Congratulations on deciding on a career in real estate! Being a real estate agent is an exciting, interesting, and often very lucrative career choice. Unless you’ve been self-employed before, it’s also somewhat of a leap of faith to go from a salaried job or school setting, to an entrepreneurial atmosphere where what you earn is directly related to how hard, and smart, you work. Be aware, the help you get along your journey might be a big factor in your success, too.
After passing your state real estate exam, the first thing you will need to do is affiliate with a real estate firm. As an agent and later a manager, I’ve seen many freshly minted agents stumble because they didn’t know what questions to ask of a company to make sure they were a good match.
You might not want to hear this right after taking the exam, but the most important thing a new agent needs, is more training! Your licensing class gives you the basics, but there is much, much more to selling real estate than that. What kinds of training does a prospective firm usually offer you ask? More often than not it consists of several weeks in a classroom setting with set hours at a corporate location, a mentoring program where you are paired with another agent (who will be paid part of your commission from each transaction you do), or one on one at a time convenient for you. If you like the trainer you had in your Moseley class, you should make sure to ask whether they will be the one training you if you join their firm! Each of these training styles is unique and has pros and cons, so make sure you pick a training style right for you.
Another consideration you should make is the size of the real estate firm and the particular office you’re thinking of joining. Every company gives off a vibe of some kind, whether its youthful, urban, sedate or a work hard/play hard type place. Ask yourself whether you see agents in the office frequently and are they friendly? Agents are mostly out listing and selling homes, but if there are a few there, it’s great to talk to them. I’ve had agents who have joined our firm say they didn’t feel welcome at some other offices. What impressed them at our office was that we looked like we were having fun along with having a large presence in our area. There are as many personalities in offices are there are people, so pick the one you’ll feel most comfortable with.
Depending on what you are hoping for in your firm, money can be a huge motivator or deterrent. Ask questions such as what is the commission you will earn if you make a sale? There are dozens of business models, but generally the real estate firm takes a portion of the commission, a monthly fee, or some other type of contribution to keep the doors open. Also make inquiries about what you get from them in terms of training, tech support, marketing help, administrative assistance or management. A deal isn’t always a deal if you need help and there isn’t any available. How do the companies where you’re interviewing see their role in your career?
Consider asking, what is the percentage of productive agents at the real estate firm? This number will help you identify whether joining the firm is smart and profitable and give you an idea of the average number of agents who have a transaction in any given month. Another way to figure out how well the company will mentor you is to ask how many sales the average new agent has in their first year. Some of this depends on other factors too – especially how committed YOU are to make a success of your new career, but if there are 200 agents in an office and only 20 of them consistently have transactions, maybe it’s more of a social club than a place of business.
I’ve done some research in my market area, and about 10-20% of the new agents change companies in the first year they are in real estate. Some may not be suited to the life of an agent, but I feel many are in a firm or an office that isn’t a good match. If you’re a natural entrepreneur determined to grow your own business regardless of your environment, you will probably succeed anywhere. However, it’s a whole lot easier if you have some backup from your firm, management, and fellow agents as you begin your journey!
By Pat Kline