The Truth About Real Estate Careers

You may have heard that real estate agent careers guarantee easy money with little training or skills. Thousands of people enter the field with these assumptions and leave a short period later severely disappointed. In reality, real estate agents earn a wide range of incomes and require an exceptional amount of people skills, versatility, organization and legal and technological knowledge. Let’s examine five of the most popular real estate myths so you know what you are getting into.

Myths About Real Estate Agents

1. Real estate agents make buckets of money.

Real estate is one of the few fields where people performing the same job can have a vast range of incomes.

The good news is that if you are good at your job and live in an area with high property values, like San Francisco, you can make several hundred thousand dollars a year. However, the average real estate agent is less opulent. In January, 2008, the national average salary for a real estate agent was $34,606. Real estate agents earn a respectable median salary and have a high income potential, but it would be a mistake for people to enter this field because they want to get rich quickly.

2. Real estate doesn’t require any real skills.

This stereotype exists because the training required to get a real estate license is shorter than for many other professions in the same income bracket, however, buying and selling houses requires more than finding pretty houses and signing contracts. Real estate agents work with clients to find eligible properties, find serious buyers, act as intermediaries in price negotiations, arrange for title searches to verify ownership, make sure the terms of the contract are being followed, keep track of radon and pest inspections, be on top of finance options, make sure environmental regulations are followed, and lastly, guide buyers/sellers emotionally through the process, many of whom are going through divorces or relocations. How’s that list for a supposedly “skill-less” profession?

3. Real estate agents only care about making a quick commission.

An established real estate agent hardly has to advertise because he receives so many return clients and new ones through references. Beginning real estate agents dream about getting to this point. Thus it is in a real estate agent’s best interest to make their clients feel happy and well cared for so they will keep coming back. Of course real estate agents are eager to close a deal (wouldn’t you be if your income depended upon it?), but most real estate agents truly care about helping people find the right home. They know that it’s often the biggest financial decision that people will make, and won’t pressure clients to make decisions they aren’t ready for.

4. You have to bend ethics in order to succeed.

All sales professions have a bad rep for being quick to take advantage of clients. Real estate is no exception. An example of a dirty trick is to show the worst houses within a client’s price range and beautiful homes for just a little more. But as described in the previous answer, real estate agents hope to see their clients again or at least work with their client’s friends. Being dishonest and manipulating clients are not required to make a decent income, and guarantees to hurt an agent in the long term.

5. Real estate agents control their own schedules

This is only half true. Real estate agents don’t work 9-to-5 behind a desk or have to punch in a timecard.

If they have a doctor’s appointment or feel like taking a vacation, there is no boss to get approval from; they can get a colleague to cover for them and take off! However, real estate agents must be willing to work some evenings and weekends, as this may be the only time that their clients are available to look at houses. There is a sense of urgency when deals are being made and this requires real estate agents to be at the mercy of their cell phones, ready to take phone calls or meet clients at the “dream house” at moment’s notice.

“Sorry, I am preparing to watch a Grey’s Anatomy marathon right now; let’s hope your house will be available at noon when I get out of bed” won’t cut it in this field. So while there is flexibility with work schedule at times, real estate agents must learn to be flexible with their day as well.

Now that we’ve cleared up some common misconceptions, let’s figure out what real estate agents actually do on an average workday.


Sign up for our newsletter!