Is a Real Estate Career Right for Me?

You love wandering through high-end houses, imagining you live there. You want to set your own schedule, so you can tote the kids to chess club and swim team practice. And you certainly like the idea of cashing big, fat, commission checks. Real estate, you think, is the perfect career for you.

But not so fast. A career in real estate certainly can give you this life you desire. But a real estate agent must deal with so much more — and less — of what newbies imagine their workdays will be like.

Time to get real. Let's take a look at what agents deal with every day, and then decide if a real estate career is right for you.

Flexible schedules

Yes, real estate isn’t a 9-to-5 job. It’s a 5-to-5, or 7-to-midnight, or Wednesday and Sunday job. In other words, you work when clients are available to show or view a home. And when you’re not traipsing through a house with a potential buyer, you’re on the phone mining new business or chatting with former clients to gauge when they might want to move again.

A Placester poll showed that only 22% of real estate agents work fewer than 30 hours a week; 49% work 40 hours or more. And, hours don’t shrink over time: 54% said they work the same hours or longer days than when they first entered the field, according to Plaster’s "Life as a Real Estate Agent Survey."


Here’s the bad news: Few people get rich quick becoming a real estate agent. The good news: The longer you’re in the game, the more you’ll earn. The National Association of Realtors 2016 members profile showed that the median gross income for Realtors was $42,500. Realtors with more than 16 years of experience grew their income to $79,000, while newbies with 2 years or less had a median gross income of only $9,000. Looking at the income glass half full: 24% of NAR members earn more than $100,000 annually.

Working from home

If you think you can run a real estate career from your bedroom in your jammies, think again. Most agents (58 percent according to the Placester survey) spend most of their working life at the office, usually in a brokerage, where they can expect administrative support, mentoring from more experience agents, and a chance to man a reception desk to pick up new clients. Half the agents surveyed said they spend only 1 hour a day offsite or on the road.

Meeting new people

New people are the lifeblood of real estate; so if you’d rather poke needles in your eye than talk with a stranger, selling real estate isn’t the best fit, although you can be an administrative assistant for a Realtor and never have to meet anyone new.

Constantly refilling your coffers with new people, who morph into new leads, is the way your build your real estate business. If you’re a church goer, card player, or tennis club member – anything that puts you in contact with lots of people-who-know-people, then you’ve got a ready-made social network that can be the source of new and repeat business.

Cold calling

Sooner or later you’ll run out of leads from people you know, and you’ll have to pick up the phone and call strangers. Sure, it’s not a lot of fun; but it is necessary.

You’ll have to thrive on the process of selling, not just closing a sale. If you believe that “No” is the first step to “Yes,” then cold calling will be a challenge, like climbing Everest. But if you take rejection personally, then calling strangers who are likely to hang up before you can charm them, will be like having your face slapped dozens of times a day.

Car time

Unless you’re selling condos in a single building, you’ll be spending a lot of time in your car. The NAR says that real estate professionals collectively drive 3.6 million miles each year. They drive to showings, open houses, new-seller interviews, and meet-and-greet functions to find new clients.

If you like driving, real estate is a good match. In fact, the more successful an agent, the nicer car they drive — not only because they can afford it, but because they look at a car as an extension of their office and part of their brand. A Market Leader survey found that the highest-earning real estate professionals are 172% more likely to drive luxury cars, while the lowest-earning agents are 282% more likely to drive minivans.

Problem solving

Selling real estate is all about solving problems.

  • A new client needs help sprucing up his home for sale and needs referrals for carpet cleaners, house painters, and floor refinishers.
  • You’re at a closing, and the title company finds a glitch in the search.
  • You’re showing a house and find a puddle in the basement — a bargain house with a grading problem.

If you believe there’s no profit without drama, and like to solve problems, you’re a good fit for a real estate career. But if predictability and routine make you sleep soundly at night, then buying and selling houses will merely fuel insomnia.

Dry spells

Like any market, real estate gets hot, then it’s not. Every bubble eventually bursts; but people have to live somewhere, so no matter what stage of the real estate cycle you’re in, people buy and sell houses. The trick is making a living during the lean times.

When sales dry up, experienced real estate agents will switch to making deals in the rental market, which often is hot when the sales market is not. Commissions are less, but there are more of them.

Be your own boss

Someday, maybe. But most new agents work for real estate brokers and, if they’re smart, join an established team that will teach them real-life tricks of the real estate trade. At first, they’ll do administrative work for the team. As they become more experienced, they’ll assist in open houses, and then start showing homes.

Along the way, new agents collect their own clients, so one day, they can start their own team.

Be your own boss

New to the game and wondering whether you made the right move? Real estate can be a difficult career to break in to. But we offer the tools to help you succeed.

Nail your listing presentation, learn how to dominate expireds, or rocket yourself to the pinnacle of success with our MyBooks program. Establish yourself as an authority by having books with your photo on the cover.

Your membership also includes customized websites and social media marketing tools. We’ve made content licensing easy for real estate agents. Your membership includes:

  • License to use 14 real estate books as your own.
  • Author website that ranks in Google.
  • Your own blog with 100+ pre-written articles.
  • Social media marketing templates.
  • Home value website for capturing leads.
  • Training strategies on how to use your books to get business.

avatar_joeJoe Nickelson is a real estate professional dedicated to helping home buyers and sellers achieve their dreams of owning property, and helping real estate agents stop using the sometimes-vicious tactics that weigh on their consciences. He believes that the Smart Agents books will, quite literally, change people’s lives for the better. Check out his full bio here

Subscribe to Email Updates