- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

It is about that time of year when people start reviewing their professional lives to determine if they want to continue down the same vocational path. That thought process leads a lot of people to sign up for real estate classes.

Many real estate agents I’ve talked to say they made the decision to get into real estate after having purchased a home and seeing a seemingly easy job performed by someone with as much intelligence as they have and then walking away, it seemed, with a big wad of cash.

Now that they have started selling, they realize that while the job of an agent is not difficult, it does require very hard work.

The challenge of agency involves working days on end without any pay; having to fund most of your own business expenses; burning up a lot of gas and spending time with people who eventually don’t buy anything; and questioning why you got in this business in the first place when the time between deals — paychecks — is weeks and months at a time.

The average agent in the U.S. in 2003 made about $45,640, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the agent’s broker brought in about $74,100.

The funny thing about averages in this field, however, is that the rule of 80/20 definitely holds. While you might have a market selling $15 billion, about 20 percent of the agents sell 80 percent of it. Meanwhile, more and more people want to get their hands on the money, so more people are getting into the business every day and that means the pie is getting cut into smaller pieces.

As you seek out your new career in real estate sales, you’ll invariably come across want ads in your local paper that read something like this:

“Real Estate Sales. Your destiny has come knocking! Entrepreneurial challenge, creative passion, economic oppty. Outrageous splits and training that create super earners. New approach. Technology-driven advantage. Ongoing mentoring. Free software.”

This is a real ad I saw in New Jersey.

The subtext should read something like this:

“Work as long or little as you want. Go ahead and quit your day job, leaving behind health insurance, the matching 401(k) plan, paid vacations and sick leave. Earn commission-only income while working long hours, including nights and weekends, with fickle clients and people who are also using another agent without telling you. Create your own fliers, marketing materials and promotional stuff. You only get paid if you come in first place. The income is unlimited, meaning there’s no maximum you can make — but there’s no minimum either.”

Inevitably, the training consists of pointing you in the right direction, then letting you do all the work. For “New approach,” and “Technology-driven advantage,” read “we have a new Web site.”

“Ongoing mentoring” likely will be provided by a really busy, successful, but tired agent, or a new agent who’s had a few deals under his belt.

Yes, my comments are tongue-in-cheek, but I’ll bet agents who read this are nodding their heads in agreement.

The best thing about a career in real estate is the flexibility. The worst thing about it is — you guessed it — flexibility. To be a six-figure agent requires hard work, business planning, consistent prospecting and learning how to close the deal. If you have these skills or are willing to learn them, then a career in real estate may be right for you.

M. Anthony Carr has written about real estate since 1989. He is the author of “Real Estate Investing Made Simple.” Post questions or comments at his Web log (https://commonsenserealestate.blogspot.com).

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