So You Want to Be a Real Estate Agent? Good Luck!

• Tip 1: There is a ton of money being made in real estate. It’s just not going to be made by you. In truth, much of it is actually going to come FROM you. The real estate companies themselves make an obscene amount of money in part by churning people through their “programs” and spitting them out with emptier pockets.

• Tip 2: There’s no salary. Make sure you have enough money in the bank to eat and pay your bills for six months. And start looking for a real job NOW. By the time you get it, you’ll be out of money. I landed a position at a company six months and 1 day from the day of my layoff. If it wasn’t for Unemployment, I would have been living in a cardboard box waiting for my real estate career to blossom.

• Tip 3: Everyone you know will feign support while questioning the decision and making fun of you. I’m serious, and you know this already. You’ve hated every real estate agent you’ve dealt with, didn’t you?

CHAPTER 2: THE INTERVIEW

Real estate offices are constantly listing open positions, so it’s easy to get an interview. Don’t be too nervous, because guess what? You’re hired. This isn’t an interview, it’s a pep talk. You could walk in and urinate in the lobby, you’re probably still hired.

Their ideal agent is someone who is divorced and miserable, sitting on a pile of alimony cash or an available line of credit, and just needs something to keep them busy. Next in line would be someone who is unhappily married, sitting on a pile of cash or an available line of credit, and just needs something to keep them out of the house and away from their spouse. If you’re not one of these two, that’s OK – they’ll take you.

CHAPTER 3: LICENSING

How do you make things better? You get the state involved!

This company that “hired” you will now send you to a training “school” (these are companies that, for a price, teach you all about the real estate industry and help you pass the state required test). This is 2 weeks of classes that have very little to do with the actual career.

There are laws that say that even though your licensing training is taking place in a Real Estate office, that no one from that office may “recruit” you. Expect to be recruited. One of the instructors was a Company X manager and took a special interest in me. He took me to open houses at expensive homes during the weeks of training, introduced me to everyone in the office, took me to lunches and took me out for beers after the training was over. The entire time, he talked about how Company Y (who had sent me to this training) was horrible, and why Company X was far superior, and definitely the place for me. Ethical? No. Fun? Yes. I still went with the company that sent me to the training because it was the right thing to do.

CHAPTER 4: FEES, FEES and MORE FEES

You didn’t think anything was free, did you? Here’s the rundown on fees:

• Licensing. If you talk to a real estate company before you take the class and get licensed, they’ll pay for the class. Well, sort of. They’ll pay for it, then take the fee back out of your first commission. Wait, who paid for it then? Yes, you did. You didn’t think that was free, did you?

•The Multi-List System. You simply cannot be a real estate agent without access to the MLS. It must be free right? No.

• Cardkey. You need this to get into any house that’s up for sale. Yes, you have to pay for it. And they can’t ship it; you need to drive 30 miles to pick it up.

• Associations. The County Realtor Association. You have to join it. It costs money…every year. The State Realtor Association. You have to join it. It costs money…every year. The National Realtor Association. You have to join it. It costs money…every year. Join this organization. Join that organization. You’ll get a magazine, and maybe even a pin. It’s all mandatory, and it all costs money. Sometimes they have free cookies at the meetings though.

• Signs. Small signs, big signs, plastic signs, metal signs, name signs, for sale signs, open house signs. You have to have them, you have to pay for them, and they cost hundreds of dollars.

• Business cards. They’re free! Well, kind of. The basic, crappy versions are free, the ones that scream “I’m new to this!” To get nice ones, with a picture, you have to pay, and you have to pay for the picture.

• Automobile. They’ll pay for your car! No, they won’t. If you’re one of the top 2 producers, and are willing to put a God-awful giant sticker on the sides and back of your (correctly colored) car, they’ll pay a nominal amount to you. Why shouldn’t they? It’s the cheapest advertising they could get.

• Free trips! 5 years from now, if you beat ALL the odds, work ridiculous hours and sell everything you get near, you might get a free trip. Don’t hold your breath.

• Name tag. Good news, the name tag is free. The bad news, you have to wear a name tag. Back when I had a real job, I knew a gentleman who always said “If a man has to wear a name tag during his job, he’s not very successful.”

• Realtor fees get you the “Realtor” pin. This is the most expensive pin you’ll ever hate wearing.

CHAPTER 5: THE “OLD-TIMERS”

They hate you.

When I say “old-timers”, I’m referring to the agents that have been working in the office for more than a year. They will rarely make eye contact at first because they expect you to be gone in a few months and they don’t want to waste their time. Once you’ve been there for 2 weeks, they’ll start offering you the “opportunity” to sit in their open houses for them. What they’re actually asking you to do is sit in a house for three hours that no one will visit, and basically sell it for them, on the off-chance that you could get a client out of it.

When there aren’t enough newbies in the office, they’ll fight over your house-sitting efforts, and may even offer you cash (don’t get excited, I’m talking about $20.) Get paid FIRST, I never did get paid for helping someone out.

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