The Truth About Being a Real Estate Agent

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Who wouldn’t love a job leading tours through gorgeous homes? That sleek stunner with the skyline view or the charming Victorian with canyon sunsets will definitely make buyers go wild. Fill out the paperwork, pocket that commission, and spend a week at the beach, right? Well, it’s not quite that easy. The day-to-day truth about being a real estate agent is far from the carefully edited scenarios on TV shows.

In real life, an agent might be selling a three-bedroom split level with a worn-out roof, a 1980s kitchen, and owners who refuse to declutter—or at least take down the decrepit old deer head. The truth is, many successful real estate agents earn a respectable income, whether they specialize in aging subdivisions or mansions. But most new agents fail because they don’t know the facts about being a real estate agent.

Real Estate Is Fundamentally Entrepreneurial

New real estate agents must establish brand new businesses. It’s simple, yet equally complicated, and it’s usually a solo effort, similar to entrepreneurs in other industries.

The Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) defines an entrepreneur as “a person who organizes the means of production to engage in entrepreneurship, often under considerable uncertainty and financial risk.” The Harvard Business Review (HBR) defines entrepreneurship as “the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled.” 

Among the HBR article’s points is that an entrepreneur is “targeting an existing product to new sets of customers” and can “control only their own human, social, and financial capital.”

Real estate agents don’t invent a new product or service. Rather, they assist “new sets of customers” (the buyers and sellers) in buying or selling “an existing product.” That product is real estate, and the “uncertainty” lies in resources and capital.

Why Do Most Real Estate Agents Fail?

The truth about being a real estate agent is that it’s hard work. Many new agents fail because they skip planning and don’t evaluate their resources, including knowledge and skills. 

Here are some of the most common reasons real estate agents fail:

•          No business plan

•          Lack of funds for overhead costs

•          Minimal experience in sales and marketing

•          Too little prospecting and lead nurturing

•          Lack of knowledge about existing homes and market trends

•          Underdeveloped people skills

•          Not committed to learning

•          Lack of mentoring

In many cases, new agents fail because they don’t put in the required hours or manage their time effectively. 

The lure for some is setting their own hours and being their own boss. Buyers and sellers, however, expect an agent to work according to their needs and their schedules. On top of that, the learning curve is steep, and with regulations and strict laws that vary by state, agents can’t always do it their way. The real truth about being a real estate agent is that it’s not as easy as it looks.

What Do Successful Agents Have in Common?

A floundering new agent might think sufficient financial capital—overhead costs plus savings to live on comfortably until they’re established—is the only way to succeed. That helps, but a hefty savings account is not the secret to success. 

Successful agents treat their work as a business because that’s what it is, and they flourish for the same reasons other types of business owners do.

Successful entrepreneurs possess good communication skills, sales skills, the ability to focus, and an understanding of business strategy. Successful real estate agents have (or develop) similar skill sets as other entrepreneurs, but they also share many more:

•          Prospecting and marketing skills

•          Technology skills

•          A positive, professional attitude

•          An ability to understand and explain complex legal documents

•          Mentors, role models, and support networks

•          Curiosity and a desire to learn

Choosing a specific real estate niche can also contribute to a real estate agent’s success.

What Misperceptions Should I Know About the Industry Before I Start?

Understanding that real estate is a serious business is the first step to avoiding the myths and misperceptions that surround it.

First, the truth about being a real estate agent is that it’s not glamorous. Sure, it can be if you’re selling high-priced properties to wealthy or celebrity clients keen on maintaining appearances. But that’s not where most agents begin or end.

Second, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. The only way that happens is if new agents already have the necessary skills, they’re well known, and they have an unusually large social network. It also helps if they’re familiar with local, high-priced neighborhoods.

Other misperceptions exist, such as agents pocketing a full 6% commission, getting a steady paycheck, and receiving reimbursement for expenses.

The truth about being a real estate agent isn’t encouraging, but there’s another way.

How Much Money Can I Make?

Real estate agents’ earnings vary and depend on their commitment, hours worked, and their local housing market as well as national trends. Back in late 2008 and 2009, for example, earnings dropped drastically when housing prices dropped. Add short sales and foreclosures to the mix, and a lot of agents struggled or got out of the business.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), “The median gross income of REALTORS® […] was $49,700 in 2019.” In addition, highly experienced Realtors® earned an average of $86,500 annually while those with less than two years of experience earned an average of $8,900.

These statistics don’t include agents who are not Realtors®, as members of the NAR are called. Still, membership exceeds 1.5 million members, so it’s a reasonable assessment. 

Other estimates that include all real estate agents range from $20,000 to $100,000 and up.

AptAmigo’s Recipe for Real Estate Success

Our company is set up to give new agents the experience and mentorship that traditional career paths lack—without the overhead costs. We know it’s hard to start your own real estate business no matter how determined and willing to learn you are.

Our mission goes two ways: You bring the right attitude and level of commitment, and we provide the tools for success. By helping new agents avoid many of the potential pitfalls, we offer you the chance to achieve your goals in real estate. It still requires hard work, but the opportunity comes with a serious support network invested in your success and often brings leads straight to your inbox. 

As an apartment locator, you’ll receive mentorship in a team environment along with uncapped commissions, marketing help from a designated marketing team, tour scheduling assistance from our ops team, and even touring agents to take over some of your tours so you can spend more time nurturing leads.

Are you ready for success?

More info

Join Our Team

AptAmigo is the best place to start and build a career in real estate. If you’re ready to explore a career in the luxury rental market, learn more about becoming an apartment locator on our career blog, then check out our job board.

AptAmigo is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and does not discriminate based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, genetic information, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law, in connection with any aspect of employment at AptAmigo.

Author: Leah McClellan

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