I get it. You watch a couple episodes of Million Dollar Listing and the high commissions flashed on the screen have you thinking, how hard could it be? Taking buyers around to look at luxury homes all day in a bespoke custom suit whilst carrying the latest Hermès handbag? Oh sure Liane, sounds tough. Right?
1. You’ll be rich like all the agents on Million Dollar Listing. Yes and No. Mostly, no. Most Realtors flunk out of the business in the first five years. I’ve been a licensed Florida real estate broker for 17 years. My first year I made approximately $25,000. My second year was slightly more than that, maybe $32,000. It took me probably a decade to start hitting six figures. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build up your database of clients. I started out working buyers because they didn’t seem to be as discriminating about who represented them, and at the time, they didn’t know I was a newb. Once I’d closed some buyers, some of those buyers would come back a year or three later and list the home they’d bought previously with me. I loved being a listing agent. But it took time to build up the trust from my clients to get there. These days, yes, I do fine for myself. But it definitely doesn’t happen overnight by any stretch of the imagination. And to hit those really high commission levels, you’d have to be in a market with a lot of million dollar plus listings, and find a way to break into that crowd.
2. You can make your own schedule. If by make your own schedule, you mean your client will make it for you, then yes! You’re in luck! When you are new to the business, and you are working buyers because they generally come easier than sellers, then you go show houses when they can go. In a hot, barely-any-inventory market like we have right now in St. Petersburg, if a new listing hits their email, you can bet they are going to text you “LET’S GO SEE THIS, NOW!” And you’d better show it to them ASAP because if you don’t, it’ll likely be gone by tomorrow.
3. You can work part-time when you feel like it. Part-time effort equals part-time money. See above – there is really no part-time in this job. You are at the client’s mercy and schedule. I showed 16 houses this weekend to two different clients and am going on 8 straight days without a day off and won’t have a day off until next Sunday…so that’ll be 14 days working without a full day off. Not only are you working full-time, you are probably working 50-70 hour weeks when you start getting busy. Your phone never stops, people will call and text you at all hours. Glamorous, right?
4. You only show 3 houses per buyer. Yeah I’ve seen HGTV House Hunters, too. It’s fake, guys, all of it. Spoiler alert: The couple they show on TV has already bought the house they selected! Yep, it’s true. Most of my buyers look at 5 to 20 houses before they make a decision to make an offer. Even once you find “the one”, it doesn’t always work out and you have to start all over again. For instance this weekend, on Saturday I was showing a buyer 7 homes, we made an offer on one that had multiple offers. We were beat out by a cash offer. So Sunday, the search resumed and we looked at 8 more. Fortunately we found a good one, made an offer, and it was accepted. Yay! Now the fun part, inspections, appraisal and going through the loan process and hoping for no hiccups.
5. It’s EASY! I am not only a St. Pete real estate agent but the Broker of Record and Owner of Corcoran Dwellings, so I hire and train real estate agents. While we don’t always hire brand newbies to our office, there was agent I took a chance on that had great business acumen. In going through her first few real estate transactions she said to me “WHEW! I really thought this was going to be easier. I had no idea. I really did think it would be like it is on TV!” She learned quickly! It isn’t. These are complex real estate transactions that can’t be tied up in a $50,000 commission bow in 30 minutes. Some transactions can take weeks, months or even years to complete! Back in 2008, when I was a foreclosure queen, I had a white board in my office of short sales I had pending for clients with a close date of “someday”. They often took 6 to 12 months to close, IF they closed. Can you imagine not knowing if you are getting a paycheck 6 months from now? Welcome to real estate. Some agents get their licenses and come to us and say “I need a paycheck in the first 60 days.” That’s cute. It likely ain’t happening. We don’t recommend jumping into this business without 6 months of salary saved, because it may take that long to get your first transaction under you.
This business is risky with a high fail rate, and it’s not for the faint of heart, but I LOVE IT. Wouldn’t do anything else. After all the negatives – at the end of the day this business IS scalable and I love helping people. You get to make a difference in the lives of others, help them with what is likely their largest financial transaction ever, and you can make a good living at it. Those who dedicate themselves to full-time and constant continuing education can have long and happy careers in real estate.
Which ones would you add? And for those of you selling real estate full-time, drop some of your own truths in the comments!