Posted by: Kaplan Real Estate Education
Updated: November 16, 2021
If you are interested in working for yourself and setting your own schedule with an annual earning potential of $100,000 or more, then pursuing a career in real estate may be right for you. While there are many upsides to choosing real estate as your career, there are factors about becoming a real estate agent that do not appeal to everyone. We’ve laid out the pros and cons of a career in real estate, including real estate agents’ income, schedule, career outlook, leadership opportunities, and more.
Starting a Real Estate Career Is Quick and Painless
Real Estate Careers: The Pros
In most states, you can complete the required real estate courses, become a licensed real estate agent, and start your new career in just a matter of weeks or months (depending on state regulations). The process is different based on location, yet it usually takes months to complete a course and final exams and then study for your licensing exam. After the licensing exam, you will activate your license. Then, as a real estate agent, you can either work for yourself or a brokerage. However, when you are starting out, working for a brokerage is the best way to test your real estate skills and build your network of clients. For your knowledge, some brokerages do have extra training, so you learn how it operates and its branding.
Real Estate Careers: The Cons
There is an investment of time, money, and effort required to start a career in real estate. Also, it is a career that comes with no guarantees. Passing your state’s real estate licensing exam is difficult and demands a varied skill set and an understanding of complex topics. The training and tests are expensive, and you will want to dedicate some serious time to studying.
For example, in Minnesota, it is $65 for the test and $100 for the license. While in California, it is $60 for the test and $200 for the license. If you want to test the waters of the real estate industry, there are some great introductory courses starting at around $35.
As a Real Estate Agent, You Are Your Own Boss.
Being Your Own Boss: The Pros
Being a real estate agent means being your own boss, including dealing with compiling, submitting, and filing documents and lease agreements while also creating and managing the annual budget. If you transition to a career in real estate, you will be an independent contractor and control your own book of business. You make the decisions. Add in a good attitude and a solid work ethic, there are virtually no limits for your real estate business growth.
Being Your Own Boss: The Cons
As a real estate agent, you’re an independent contractor and are on your own to learn the real estate market and manage your business. You are in charge of building your lead list, maintaining your clients’ needs, networking relationships, marketing your real estate business, and handling the day-to-day office needs. It’s all in your hands. Unfortunately, many new agents fail to recognize how much work it takes to become a successful real estate agent.
Real Estate Agents Work Flexible Schedules
Real Estate Agents’ Schedules: The Pros
You don’t work a mundane 9 to 5 job. Real estate agents set a daily schedule that works for them. Much of a real estate agent’s time is spent socializing, meeting people, and building relationships.
Real Estate Agents’ Schedules: The Cons
Having a flexible schedule in real estate means being adaptable and responsive to the client’s needs. With a career in real estate, you tend to work when everyone else is not—that includes weekends. Can you drop everything and be attentive to their needs if a client calls, even if it’s time you usually spend with your friends or family?
Can You Be a Real Estate Agent Part-Time?
Real estate is one of the most flexible careers, plus many experienced realtors recommend starting out part-time as you grow your client database. This can relieve stress on your wallet while allowing you to pursue your dream career. It takes grit, determination, and adaptability to be a real estate agent while also having strategic time-management skills to balance both jobs.
Real Estate Agents Make a Good Income
Real Estate Agent Salary/Income: The Pros
A real estate agent’s income is not limited by an hourly wage or a corporate-dictated salary range. As a real estate salesperson, your income is primarily dictated by the time you invest. You can grow your real estate business by adding an assistant or get the appropriate license that lets you build your own brokerage.
Every industry has its ups and downs: in 2019, an established real estate agency was making an average of $41,200 annually, according to Andrew DePierto of Forbes magazine. However, also in 2019, the demand was extremely low for moving. It wasn’t until after the pandemic’s effects subsided that the housing market took off. According to Indeed, the average established realtor’s salary is $86,000 as of March 2021. Learn more about how much a real estate agent makes.
Real Estate Agent Salary/Income: The Cons
At first, your cash-flow direction will be out. Most new real estate agents need a nest egg to begin their careers. Getting your first sales to come in will take some time, and it will likely be a couple of months or more before you cash your first check. Depending on the market you cover and existing relationships you can tap into, it can be a feast or famine situation.
As a Real Estate Agent, You Help People With Their Largest Transactions
Managing Large Transactions: The Pros
Real estate agents receive genuine satisfaction from helping clients find the perfect home or sell their property at a great price. This is an exciting time for both buyers and sellers, and they look to the real estate agent as the expert to help them through the process with attentive care.
Managing Large Transactions: The Cons
Real estate transactions generally are one of the most stressful times of a client’s life. You will need to be confident in your skills and abilities when things don’t go as planned. If a client leaves unhappy, whether it was due to your efforts or not, word-of-mouth spreads quickly and can affect your referral network and, ultimately, your bottom line.
How Competitive Is Real Estate? What About Technology’s Effects on the Real Estate Industry?
Real estate is a competitive industry, but, just like any other sales job, networking and developing relationships are key to a successful career. However, in the 21st century, competition is not only with other realtors but with technology itself. Customers can find a plethora of information on properties before even reaching out to a real estate agent or brokerage. On the other hand, technology allows agents to market themselves and conduct business on their social media platforms. Learn how to leverage the competition to your advantage and show how you differ from the rest.
What Is the Job Outlook for Real Estate Agents?
The current climate in the real estate industry is hot—many people are looking for houses, but there aren’t enough on the market for sale. Due to the short supply, many houses are going for more than the asking price. The real estate market is stable, and as construction starts to pick up post-pandemic and shortages dwindle, the real estate industry will soar. Keep in mind that career options with a real estate license aren’t limited to becoming an agent. You can become a title examiner, property manager, loan officer, and more with a real estate license.
Is Being a Real Estate Agent Worth It?
Only you can determine if being a real estate agent would be rewarding for you. As we’ve laid out, there are many pros to a career in real estate, including salary/earning potential, a flexible schedule, and plenty of room for growth and leadership opportunities. While determining whether or not the challenges and obstacles of a career in real estate feel worthwhile is your decision to make, a career in real estate is certainly a great option if you’re looking for a new, exciting, and versatile career path.
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