Do You Want to Be a Realtor?

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During any real estate boom, real estate agents seem to make a lot of money, very fast. It looks like a great career opportunity, right? Like most things in life, there are ups and downs. When the market falls and real estate sales dry up, a lot of agents fall through the cracks and disappear.

But for those who are serious about their real estate careers, the benefits truly outweigh any market downturn. On average, according to the latest figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Realtors made $46,410 during 2016. And the job outlook is rosy, expected to grow around 6 percent annually until 2026.

This statistic may sound odd, considering the damage that the internet age has had on other industries. Wouldn’t it be just as easy and a lot less expensive to search on real estate mega sites such as Trulia or Zillow when buying or selling? Couldn’t those sites provide the same data and opportunities to list or buy property as hiring a Realtor?

Not really. According to the National Association of Realtors, agents are as widely used now as ever. Eighty-seven percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent in 2017, up from 69 percent in 2001. Apparently, it’s the same for sellers too, where only 9 percent sold a home without a Realtor, down from a high of 20 percent in 1987.

Why? The average real estate transaction is more complicated now. Due to the 2008 housing crash, mortgage companies established much tougher lending regulations. More structured sales have cropped up as well, such as short sales and foreclosures. Buyers are learning to rely on their Realtors when faced with these more sophisticated transactions and requirements. Buying a home is a big decision, and most people believe you get what you pay for, so homebuyers sleep better at night knowing their agent is working for them and handling the entire process. They don’t mind paying a real estate commission for peace of mind.
If you’ve wondered if this could be a career choice, consider these points:

Real estate agents help people buy, sell and rent properties. Most are independent contractors, but they must work with a real estate broker who is licensed to manage their own real estate business. When the market is up, it feels like the best job ever and agents are making great money. Agents are not limited on how much they can earn, so the sky is the limit. But when the market falls, competition is fierce and money is tight.

Since agents are self-employed, they often work irregular hours, but they are able to set their own schedule. This can feel liberating without a time card to punch or a desk to occupy all the time. But most real estate business is conducted after hours or on the weekends, so planning a social life can be tricky. Hours are a huge factor in this business, but most good agents get repeat customers, which cuts down on those demanding hours. The ability to work independently is key, too. Remember, agents are their own bosses, and they must be organized with planning and prioritizing their time.

Agents must pass a licensing requirement that varies from state to state, requiring real estate or college courses. The more competitive markets prefer college degrees. Remember, agents are being trusted with thousands of dollars of clients’ money. Misunderstandings or failure to follow through on contractual details is extremely costly, making education a key to success as a Realtor.

Even though educational degrees are not required to enter the profession, agents continually improve their skills with practice and training, either through their own office or outside training. Real estate can be a stressful job, and knowledge comes in handy when it’s needed to solve problems. Realtors need to be able to think on their feet when presented with problems or negotiations between buyers and sellers.

It’s a good idea to reflect upon your skill set before embarking on a real estate career. Interpersonal skills are a must. Agents interact with clients and customers all day long, so they must be enthusiastic, pleasant and trustworthy.

Agents need to protect their reputations too, because nothing spreads faster than negative reviews that affect their networking capability. But since Realtors are their own boss, there are no annual reviews to let them know if they are doing a good job or not.

All in all, most Realtors agree there is nothing more rewarding than helping families find their perfect home. It can be a great career choice for anyone who is motivated, honest, hardworking and who enjoys helping others. ■

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