It seems like such a glamorous profession – showing clients luxurious and elegant homes with the hopes that one will be perfect for them. Many people have at one time or other thought about a career in real estate. There’s a good bit to know about becoming a realtor and we’re here to walk you through the process to help you gauge whether this might be a good career decision for you.
First things first, you need to get educated and in order to do this you’ll need to enroll in a real estate program. It would be best to find out where you can take classes locally. It should be noted, however, that each state has slightly different rules and regulations and you will need to become certified in each state you plan to sell. For example, in Connecticut you’ll need 60 hours of classroom time and in Colorado you’ll need 168 hours of classroom time before you can take your real estate test. (Your particular country may differ still.) How well you do on this test is a pretty good indicator as to how you will do on the national and state test which you’ll need to get your license. It’s important to pay close attention to the classes and do your reading. The questions asked on the test are very specific and those who try to cut corners and skim the work often find themselves needing to retake the test. Study hard and get it right the first time! In these classes you will learn about the following topics as they pertain to the real estate market:
- Law/legal matters
- Paperwork needs
- How to put a deal together
Once you’ve passed your class test and your state test you are free to hang your license with a broker.
I’ve passed the test, now what?
Once you’ve passed your test you will need to start to make connections and start marketing yourself. In some cases the real estate teachers are brokers themselves. If not you will shop around – it’s important that your style meshes with the broker’s style. You’re interviewing these people as much as they’re interviewing you. You will pay your state to receive your license and you will need to join a real estate board.
Spread the good news
Tell everyone you know that you’ve now got your real estate license and you’re ready to start selling and buying houses (representing buyer and sellers, or helping people transition). You’ll need to work hard to get the leads that will land you your first contract client. You’ll need to work hard throughout your career in this fast moving, ever changing industry by staying educated and working long hours. What you put in to it is what you get out of it. Don’t go into Real Estate thinking it will be easy, you will learn quickly that it is not.
While it would be lovely start out showing and selling million dollar homes, that’s not reality. It takes lots of experience, hard work and dedication to get to that level. Success does not come overnight, but in well planned steps. It might be wise to to work as a service agent. This is someone who works with and for an agent in the office.
You will get paid a small stipend to get and manage listings, manage marketing – both print and online, and to continue with your learning. There’s a great learning curve in this industry, and earn your experience with someone’s greatest asset.
Gaining more experience and your first a client
Try to find a mentor in the field – perhaps partner up with a senior Realtor, learn from them and work for and with them. You can assist them with their open houses and their marketing. All this experience becomes firsthand knowledge. Much of your learning will be hands-on – watch, listen and observe.
Offer to take on floor duty as often as possible – this is a fancy term for working the phones. By answering and fielding phone calls you can create your own connections from these leads. Go to as many public open houses as possible. People often wander into these blindly. You will then have their contact information which could become a lead.
You’ve got a client and a potential sale, now what?
Congratulations! But let’s not count our eggs before they hatch. There’s still a good bit to be done before you’ve actually got the sale. You’ll need a pre-approval from the bank for your client. This shows that your client is serious about the purchase and financially able to make the purchase of the new home.
After you’ve gotten the approval you will have to submit a binder. This will protect your clients, the buyers, should something fall through. The buyer is based on any contingencies set by you and your client, should something suspect arise during a home inspection. This allows the potential buyer, your client, to walk away from the deal without losing his money – save for what was spent on the home inspection.
Before the sale the following are an absolute must to have:
Before the sale the following are an absolute must to have to present your clients offer to the Realtor who is representing the seller.
- A “Right to Represent” – this is basically a document stating that you represent your client and acts as a binder to you – protecting your back should your client want to back out and find another agent. (needs to be re-worded. More to tell you about this. It is the law and that needs to be stressed)
- A Copy of the check – usually 1% of the agreed price
- The pre-approval letter I spoke of earlier
- A Copy of the lead disclosure – only needed in homes built and painted before 1975
- A signed copy of the property disclosure
- An attorney
From here you are free to submit your offer. And wait. And wait… there could be a game of counter-offer ping pong being played while the two sides battle it out (while both sides try to reach a negotiation). You’ll need to be there for your clients, and (help them) tell them to manage their expectations. This time is often excruciating to wait through. Meanwhile hopefully you will have a back-up home or a second choice.
Sometimes this is to your favor and can help with the negotiations. If the sellers know you’re willing to walk away they may be more willing to strike up a deal. (the advice here needs to be how an agent helps in the transaction… this is not advice to the potential buyer/seller – it’s to someone who wants to be an agent.)
If you’re selling a home
If you’re selling a home you will need to take care of the following steps on behalf of your client.
- You’ll need to work on staging.
- You’ll need to find a good price-point that will sell the house quickly and for top dollar. It is important not to over or underprice your client.
- You will need to perform a CMA, a comparative marketing analysis.
- You’ll need to have the house and property properly assessed based on the current condition, recent and possible future upgrades. You will attend both broker and public open houses.
- You will keep an eye on the price, and if the house is not moving after a certain period of time you will need to reassess whether the price needs to drop or sit and wait it out a little longer before it does.
- When accepting an offer from another agent you will need to be clear about what the offer entails (and communicate this with your client) – what is included or not. For example do the owners want to bring their washer and dryer with them? Will the newly replaced chandeliers stay or go? All this must be disclosed up front. And most importantly, perhaps, when is the closing and when will the buyers want to move in by?
- When an offer is agreed upon, you can for the most part take a deep breath of relief. Occasionally, however, problems can arise last minute. This is often the nature of this beast.
What makes a successful Realtor?
A successful Realtor has a great knowledge of the industry and is always learning and keeping up with the changes. The best Realtors have seen the worst and survived. The best realtors are strong and tenacious. They are fearless and hardworking. They are personable and very involved with the community. They are active and generally love to be with people and are very social. They’re passionate about what they do and they stay on top of the laws and trends and they never stop educating themselves.
Do you have what it takes to be a successful Realtor?