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Frankly, Instagram has brought us a ton of new students. So many of our students enroll because they have seen social media posts from agents about how much money they make. Programs like Million Dollar Listing have contributed to this perception.
While some of these stories are true and many agents do make a lot of money in our business, I wanted to write a quick article about things you should know before starting a career in real estate. I wrote a few pieces of advice - I thought the title was catchy - before anyone takes the first step in entering our business.
You Are the Boss
It may seem obvious, but people who have spent the majority of their lives working for a manager or supervisor are often surprised by how much discretion they have over their daily schedule. There aren’t any wake up calls in our business. No one complains if you show up 5 minutes late - or don’t show up at all. Worse yet, if you work for a “virtual brokerage” there might not be a person available to bounce ideas off of or to get advice from when you find yourself in a rut. When a decision needs to be made, you are often the person who has to be decisive and take action.
You Need a Business Plan
Being a self-employed person means that you need to come up with a business plan that provides a roadmap for your real estate business. How much money are you setting aside for marketing and advertising? How many transactions do you plan to close in a month, or in a year? Does your business plan call for you to work from a real estate office or work from home? How much time are you setting aside for your business if this is part-time work?
In addition, you also need to understand your tax obligations. You will have to pay quarterly taxes and budget for this. You'll need to track your business income and deductions to ensure you pay enough every year. Most agents have a CPA or other tax advisor that they lean on regularly for this.
It’s Useful To Have a Cash Reserve
What social media posts and television rarely show are the slow periods. There will be a time when you don’t close anything and your pipeline isn’t progressing as quickly as you would like. This period can especially hold true for the brand new licensee that will have a minimum 90-day window to get a handle around the business. Always have at least a small cash reserve built up before starting, and keep adding to it little by little. By having a nest egg, you'll be able to weather slow periods and continue to build until you are at the point where you have a steady pipeline of closings.
Your Schedule is Flexible... Sort Of
It's true that you can work whenever you want. So if you are a night person who loves working at 2am because it is quiet and calm, you can do all your paperwork and get your online marketing accomplished during those hours. On the other hand, remember that you will have clients that can and will contact you at unpredictable times. A certain property may show up that a client wants to see right away and that showing may not have been “in your schedule” but you may feel the need to drop everything and pivot.
If you become a residential real estate professional you will likely have clients that work 9-to-5 jobs. The only times they have to look at a house or arrange for a showing are evenings and on the weekends. Are you accounting for this in your plan?
Somehow Differentiate Yourself from the Rest of the Pack
You have a real estate license. That is an accomplishment not to be undermined. Remember, however, that you were in a full classroom of other people who also obtained their licenses. They’ll likely be working in the same neighborhoods as you. Additionally, you will also be competing against established, veteran Realtors which will be an even more competitive field.
Establishing your personal brand and differentiating yourself is absolutely mission critical. Figure out what makes you unique, whether it is your marketing skills, market knowledge, or negotiating techniques. Then let people know about your skills so that they each out to you first.
Start Your Real Estate Career Today
Are you ready to make the move into real estate and gain the education you need to succeed? Visit our website to learn about how you can gain your license and start this exciting career.
Side note - My intention with this article is not to discourage anyone from starting in our business. It’s simply to pepper a little bit of realism in the basket of fake Instagram and YouTube videos. I have many students that make into the 6 and 7 figures annually. It is possible, but everyone is looking for the secret sauce that’s going to make them successful.
The truth is that there is no secret - it’s just hard work.