I am a real estate agent (Realtor®) in the city of Los Angeles.
How would you describe what you do?
This is a mixture of sales, marketing, being internet savvy and a social media guru, psychologist. And you need the patience of Job.
What does your work entail?
In the old days agents used to start out by knocking on doors in a neighborhood they selected. They would drop off some kind of marketing material, usually a market report of some kind, a calendar or some other piece. They used to work their sphere of influence to see if someone was ready to buy or sell or knew of someone who was. Some used to advertise in the papers. Now it is mostly online marketing and social networking. People find me online.
The idea is to find people who want to sell or who want to buy. Also, we are getting more into rentals, which can be a lucrative business in a city like Los Angeles.
What’s a typical work week like?
There is no typical work week in real estate. You may be extremely busy with listings or buyers and your week is taken up with those two activities. However, you must not ignore your online presence because that is what is going to keep you in business.
I spend a lot of time blogging on my own website and networking on others. Social networking is huge in this business. You need to be found by people entering a particular search term. That in itself can be a full time activity.
If I have buyers then I am making appointments to show them properties. If I have a listing I am arranging for people to view the properties, and until the home is sold I will be holding an open house each Sunday. If the properties go under contract then there is a lot of work to do. Inspections have to be arranged for buyers. Negotiations continue between buyer and seller over repairs. There are certain requirements to be met by sellers, etc. Again, all this while keeping up the blogging.
How did you get started?
Generally an agent will start out at a large brokerage with good training, which is what I did. That is most important, and they will be mentored through the first few deals before going out on their own. I was heavy into door knocking each month and cold calling on the phone and that’s what got me going. Nowadays, most of my business comes from my online presence. Many agents in business for a while do get referrals.
What do you like about what you do?
I love the freedom and the social aspect of this business. You meet so many people and it can be an exciting lifestyle. And there is nothing like seeing a deal through from start to closing. The buying and selling of a home is sometimes the largest transaction a person will make in their lives.
What do you dislike?
Living for the next deal. This is an up and down business and it can be nerve wracking when you are in-between. Also, you do meet some extremely difficult personalities which can make for some stressful situations.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
This is totally a commission-based business. Once you are established you need to shop around and find the best situation for your needs. If you don’t need the office environment then find a brokerage that offers the best commission split. In most cases it does not matter whom you work for in this day and age. You clients will hire YOU for what YOU can do for them.
How much do you make?
Every year varies. Your salary is limitless. You really should not be making less than $100,000 a year when the market is good. Make sure you save for the years when it isn’t.
How much money did/do you make starting out?
Not that much. My best year was $130,000 and I am just an average agent. The good ones make a ton more, and the not so good a lot less.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
Just a real estate license. You can attend a school or do an online course. Then you take the exam which you have to renew every four years.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Being motivated and disciplined. You are working for yourself, and often out of your home. This is not a 9:00 to 5:00 job and you really have to be available for your clients, especially on weekend when they are available.
What is most rewarding?
The fact that you are your own boss. And there is nothing like finding a buyer their dream home or getting a home sold for a seller at a price they want.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Have some kind of cushion to keep you going for at least six months. This is a commission-based industry. Learn the business inside and out. Be a social media expert and website/blog guru. People are online looking for homes. You need to be found.
How much time off do you get/take?
You can take as much time off as you like if you can find coverage. I don’t like to take more than a couple of weeks off at a time, but you certainly can, especially when you are connected to the internet.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
Our industry has a bad reputation, and there are certainly bad agents. But overall we work hard for our money. It is a very stressful business and people don’t know what goes on in the background. We don’t just show homes, we live the entire process, sometimes for months on end and it can take a lot out of us.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I am at the end of my career, so would just like to continue on with the business I have had over the past few years and be able to remain in it as long as possible.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
I think if you are an A-type personality, self-motivated and disciplined, then there is nothing like the rewards of a career in real estate.