Like a lot of people hooked on those HGTV renovation and real estate shows, many wonder if taking the plunge into a real estate career is the right move for them. If the answer to that question is yes, they dive right in with both feet.

Duane Donaldson is doing just that.

Duane has worked in sales, insurance and as a public school teacher, among other things. But he’s always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Now that he’s pursuing a career in real estate, he says he’s finally found just the right fit.

“I’ve always liked homes,” Duane said. “I used to go and look at homes with my mother. It was something we did together. I’ve always liked architecture, looking at décor, and the structure of property. That has always appealed to me.”

After talking with other people in the business, he decided he was definitely on the right path.

“In my case, it started with a conversation I had with an agent right before I started my training. She told me I’d be good at selling homes, that I had just the right personality for it, and the right mind set – being organized and tenacious.”

Duane started out by doing the training online, but quickly decided that he was missing something by not taking the training in person.

“I realized the online training just wasn’t working for me,” he said. “I like personal instruction, interacting with the teacher and the other students. You don’t get that interaction and feedback when you take the online classes,” he added.

He’s now enrolled in a class in Sandy Springs, and gave praise to his instructor, Joi Bostic.

“Joi is a great teacher. It’s been great to hear her perspective on what the business is really like.”

Once he obtains his license, he’ll be looking to affiliate with a brokerage firm.

“I plan to start off selling homes, and then get into property management – being an agent for a homeowner or a corporation with properties to rent.”

I asked him what the training is like, and if it’s what he expected.

“There are a lot of terms you have to learn and you have to know how to use them properly. There were things I knew, but I didn’t know how much I didn’t know until I started my training,” Duane said.

As a homeowner himself (he and wife Sheneka – also an entrepreneur – purchased a new construction townhouse in Decatur just over a year ago) I asked him what some of the mistakes people make when they’re searching for a home.

“A lot of people aren’t prepared when they first start off,” he said. “They don’t have their financing in place, or have all their documents organized. If you’ve made large purchases recently, or made large withdrawals from your 401K, a lender might need you to explain that. If you have everything you need in place before you get started, the process goes a lot more smoothly,” Duane said.

He added that people who are looking to take advantage of the numerous loan and grant programs available to Atlanta residents should do a little research on their own to find out what program might be right for them based on their needs, financial situation and what kind of place they hope to buy.

“Some people want a move in ready home with top of the line finishes. Others want a place that they can completely remodel to their exact tastes. And a lot of people want something in between – a place that needs just enough work for them to personalize it, but not so much work that it becomes overwhelming.”

His advice for prospective real estate agents?

“Talk to as many agents as you can. Research what the training is like. And know what kind of learner you are,” he said.

But Duane’s passion for the real estate business goes beyond financial considerations, or even his entrepreneurial spirit.

“A lot of people get into this business picturing themselves selling million dollar properties. Of course that sounds appealing,” he said.

“But what I really see myself doing is being able to sell a vision. I want to make a person look at a house and see a home. I want someone I’m working with to see a West End fixer and envision a place on the French Riviera. I’m prepared to work hard, grind and give others what our real estate agent gave us – a perfect home buying experience.”

Interested in becoming a real estate agent? Here’s a resource to help you get started.

 How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Georgia

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