Ever notice that some folks have a skewed view of life as a real estate agent? Considering how agents are depicted on some reality TV shows, that’s understandable. Agents with big incomes and lavish lifestyles undoubtedly bring in higher television ratings than your run-of-the-mill agents.
And while those shows are entertaining, they can create a lot of misconceptions about real estate agents. We’re ready to clear those up right now.
Misconception #1: This job is easy.
Consider a few of an agent’s daily challenges: marketing “not-so-marketable” properties, managing a huge client database and supervising heated negotiations. Add in the stress of a commission-based income and an unstable market, and you can understand why few agents say their jobs are “easy.”
“People have this image that being an agent is easy, that all you have to do is show apartments,” says New York City agent Gretchen de Chellis in a New York Times interview. “This is an undervalued job for all the work that goes into it! And real estate is a really fickle industry.”
Misconception #2: I get paid a lot.
Real estate agents drive around in flashy cars, live in mansions, and are up to their eyeballs in million-dollar deals, right?
Wealthy agents are definitely out there, but 7-figure incomes are not the norm among agents. The average gross income for members of the National Association of Realtors who worked 40-59 hours a week was $45,800 in 2014, down from $47,000 in 2013. That’s a solid income, but not enough to support a warehouse full of Ferraris or a palatial vacation home.
Most agents quickly learn that a comfortable income is certainly within reach, but that real estate isn’t the quick and easy road to riches.
Misconception #3: My schedule is super-flexible.
Most real estate agents aren’t held to the “Monday-Friday, 8-5” routine. Agents have some flexibility to work at the times and locations they see fit.
But that doesn’t mean agents can abandon the office for days on end or vacation at a moment’s notice. Clients have demands and busy lives as well, and many expect agents to cater to their schedules. Buyers may want an immediate showing of a new listing. Sellers expect listing agents to constantly monitor leads.
At the end of the day, agents can choose how flexible and responsive they want to be. But as success follows hard work, so too must agents follow their client’s needs.
Misconception #4: I don’t need any training to do this job.
We’ll counteract that myth with a simple statement: Agents are a well-educated crowd.
Every licensed agent must meet their state’s training guidelines before starting a practice. Plus, more than 53 percent of NAR members have some type of college degree, and 58 percent hold licenses as sales agents. In addition, a third of NAR members have at least one professional designation, such as GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) or ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative).
It’s true that most universities don’t offer a bachelor’s degree in real estate. Don’t let that tidbit obscure the fact that agents undergo rigid licensure training and continuing education to succeed.
The reality is…
Just like any other profession, real estate has its highs and lows. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, or an easy career for someone without the proper training.
But if you love personal interaction, marketing, and being self-employed, working as a real estate agent can be incredibly rewarding. Connecting buyers with their dream homes or helping sellers move on with their lives is a wonderful calling.
And you get to look at houses all day long. (Better consider a different career path if that doesn’t excite you!)