Can you work part-time and still be successful in real estate? It depends on your considerations.
Rick, a Realty Times reader, wants to enter the real estate business. He writes Realty Times for advice:
I have been in the advertising/media industry for 15 years. I would like to explore real estate. A few of my associates over the years made this change, and they love it.
My biggest problem is that I'm the sole income for my family. Can I transition from my current career to real estate, part-time? A few brokers say they will let me. I have very flexible hours in advertising. Can this work? Until I get some listings/buyers, etc.? I can work on marketing during this time, and when thing start to click, I can then move in full-time. This is really a tough one. Can this be done, or not?
Realty Times responds:
The short version is -- Yes, you can, but you have to know what you're getting into. The biggest reasons people fail in real estate, is lack of planning and capitalization. Starting a new career takes a lot of preparation. Think of it as going back to school to get a degree, and then reentering the work force as a rookie, because that is exactly what you'll be doing. However, unlike most graduates, you will also have the benefit of years of previous experience and contacts to help you.
Here are some steps to help you get started.
- You'll have to conquer the educational, and testing requirements by attending real estate classes and passing your state's licensing exam. See ARELLO for the requirements in your state. To find local educational classes that count toward licensure, contact your local association of Realtors. See Realtor.com for local associations, and email the one in your area for a list of schools.
- Most states require that you have a sponsoring broker, as you will not be allowed to practice on your own, without the supervision of a broker. That means you'll have to research, and interview different brokers in your area to "sponsor your license." Each will have very good reasons why you should join his or her brokerage. You will want to know about training programs and support. Ask to meet the people who will be training you, and providing technical support, so you can get their recommendations about what tools, you'll need to get started.
- Brokers don't supply laptops, PDAs, and other cool stuff, so listen carefully to what these people tell you as far as marketing tools, programs, and other stuff you'll need. Add it up, and add it to your real estate budget.
- When you join a firm, start whatever continuing educational courses you'll need, including MLS software classes, so you can hit the ground running before you actually start contacting potential customers.
- Get a customer database ready. Buy the best customer management software you can afford, if your broker doesn't supply it, as you will use it multiple times a day. Learn to use it so that you are fast. Put everyone in it you have ever met. It's a good reason to call people, to let them know what you are doing, and to make sure you have the latest contact information for them. Everyone you have ever met is fair game because they all have two things in common -- they need shelter, and they know you. Don't forget service people, like your dry cleaners, your doctors and nurses, and the policeman who patrols your block. Contact everyone and keep them informed about what you are doing, and ask each one if they know anyone who is thinking of buying or selling a home.
- Start budgeting for marketing -- marketing yourself, as well as listings you may acquire. See Realty Times Agent Publicity Package for exposure to Internet buyers and sellers. This is useful because you don't have to have listings to get in front of consumers. All you need is your opinion of your local marketplace.
- Create a schedule. You'll only have so much time to accomplish everything, so you have to budget time to make calls, see the housing inventory in your farming area, meet new people and network, and attend more classes to learn even more. Stick to it as well as you can. Just like running a farm, you have to be reaping and sowing all the time. Every day you fail to farm and market yourself, is a day you won't have business to close, weeks and months from now.
- Think about a niche. You're going to be a generalist when you are licensed, but specialists make more money, so what are you passionate about? Golf? Helping senior citizens? Are you bilingual? Do you love old houses, historic homes? Like the flash and dash of urban renewal communities? Condos? There are lots of ways to specialize: types of consumers, types of houses, types of communities, and so on.
- Start with what you know. If you've bought a home -- what was your experience? How would you want it to be better for your customers? This will tell you a lot about how much work will go into your new career.
- Be willing to hire a coach and/or mentor. Other agents shouldn't be expected to answer all your questions, and many won't. Hire someone whose job it is to help you be successful. See Agent News columnists for the best selection of trainers and coaches around.
- The main problem people have working part time is inflexibility. They have to stay on site and can't leave to meet clients, or answer calls, or take care of problems. You indicated that you can still pull down part time income while you do this, and that your hours are somewhat flexible. That's good, as you may need the money. Make sure you don't lose business by being willing to pay other agents or a partner, to take over for you and do the things you can't do. Some people call this teaming. Maybe you can work at night while someone else prefers to work the day. You can do the data entry stuff while your partner shows the houses. That's a good way to double team, and still have a life.
- Separate your real estate and marketing monies as soon as you can, so you'll know which is more profitable for you in the long run. Have some reserves, but tell yourself you are going to sell a house a week, so you'll get up and running quickly.
- Return frequently to Realty Times archives of news and advice for agents. Use the search feature for topics you would like to know about, like how to defend your commission, or work with difficult clients.
These are just a few of the things you should consider. Hope these suggestions help you. Best of luck to you from Realty Times.