So, You Want To Be a Real Estate Agent? Here’s Five Things You’ll Need to Know

It’s no secret that the mortgage crisis put a serious dent in the dreams of those aspiring to become Real Estate Agents. But now that the dust has settled, things are really starting to pick up in the industry, and that dream that seemed so far away, isn’t so unattainable anymore.

In the wake of the housing crash, Real Estate Trainers cut its staff 80 percent and used its reserves to keep the lights on. With home sales plummeting, hardly anybody wanted to become an agent anymore. And real estate schools like Anaheim-based RET were feeling the pain – big time.

But since the housing market started getting back on its feet in late 2012, the number of Californians signing up to become agents is up 77 percent, state figures show. And schools like RET are back in the black. RET’s classes – lucky to have two or three people per session during the downturn – now have 15 to 20 students per session.

…How hard could it be?

Hold onto your refrigerator magnets, friends. The reality of the real estate game isn’t so rosy. Even for industry top guns, selling is hard work. Very hard work.

And even after working nights, weekends and holidays, there’s no guarantee of a payday until the escrow closes. And escrows have a way of falling through.

Here are five key things every prospective real estate agent needs to know before getting into the business, according to brokers, agents and real estate schools.

  1. Have a cash reserve

You need a bundle of cash before you start because chances are good you won’t make a lot of commissions in the first year.

Once you’re career is underway, real estate can be an avenue to a decent living without the kind of capital needed to start other businesses like, say, a small restaurant.

Still, you need to have something to live on – enough to cover three to six months of living expenses.

In addition, you need to pay business costs such as broker fees, errors and omissions insurance, lockbox rentals, business cards and buying real estate signs.

  1. Get your “A” game on

Being a real estate agent is not a cushy job. And while the possibility of riches exist, it’s not a quick-rich scheme.

Just a fraction of Orange County’s “active” agents – those with at least one sale a year – get the bulk of the business, according to a report by real estate consultant Pat Veling of Real Data Strategies in Brea.

  1. Do your homework

Before you can sell real estate, you need to get a California salesperson’s license, then find an “employing” broker.

First order of business: Go back to school. Prospective agents must complete three real estate courses and pass the state licensing exam.

  1. Get more training

A license is not enough, unfortunately.

The courses that helped you pass the test don’t really prepare you for selling real estate.

“It’s easy to get a license,” said Mike Eagan, director of admission and marketing for Allied, a national real estate school based in Laguna Hills. “But you need to work for a good real estate company that can train you and teach you how to do the job.”

  1. Develop a business plan

An agent is his or her own boss.

That’s cool.

But you better know what you’re doing, or it’s back to waiting tables, selling shoes, teaching, or processing mortgage applications.
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