A career in real estate offers flexibility in scheduling and earning potential that’s hard to find in most 9-5 jobs, but those benefits must be balanced against some unique demands.
“People who want to become real estate agents are attracted by the potential for a substantial income and the ability to set their own schedule and be their own boss,” said Dennis Miller, a real estate broker who educates aspiring brokers at schools in Winston-Salem and Greensboro. “Those things are all possible, but they cannot be viewed in isolation,” he added.
Brokers have to be prepared to put in long hours and some seven-day weeks to be successful, Miller explained, but that level of commitment is offset by being associated with what he considers “the best industry there is,” as well as the opportunity to help clients make one of the most important decisions they will make in the lifetimes.
Miller, who teaches at Triad Real Estate School in Winston-Salem and Elliott Real Estate Academy in Greensboro, vividly recalls a meeting he had in 2006 with a young single mother.
“She wanted to become a real estate broker and came to our meeting with her 3-month-old infant,” Miller noted. She dedicated herself to becoming the best real estate agent she could be and, as a result, made nearly $120,000 in her first year as a broker.
That level of immediate success is possible, but unusual, Miller said. “Most committed brokers can expect to earn between $60,000 and $80,000 after about two years,” he noted, “but even that degree of success requires a willingness to engage in ongoing education, acquiring solid sales skills and becoming an expert on the communities where you are selling.”
Miller explained that brokers must be able to accurately answer questions about many things that are important to potential homebuyers, such as location, financing options and the current health of the local housing market.
Once all the necessary skills are acquired and mastered, substantial incomes are possible, he said, noting that some of the best agents he has worked with have earned between $300,000 and $400,000 a year.
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of a career in real estate, Miller said, is helping people to negotiate the many hurdles that stand between them and finding the ideal home that meets their needs. He recalls working with a young couple in their 20s who had been trying for months to purchase their first home. Miller was able to help them obtain financing, often the biggest hurdle, and find a home that met both their needs and their budget. “They were so happy with their new home,” Miller recalls, “that we stayed in touch after they moved in and they invited me to join them for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Asked about what other advice he would give individuals considering entering the real estate business, Miller suggested finding a mentor who is already successful and shadowing that person for a year or two. “Go with him or her to sales presentations, closings and other meetings to learn the ropes,” Miller said. “There is only so much you can learn in a real estate class. Most of your education will take place in these real word situations.”
Christopher G. Cox is publisher/managing editor of realesavvy.com.