The Truth About Working in Residential Real Estate Sales: Five Things You Should Know Before Becoming a REALTOR

Congratulations!  You just decided to get your real estate license and you are ready to start selling homes, making money and living the high life!


Well, not to be a downer, but there are a few things you should know before rushing out to purchase a brand new Lexus prior to taking your first sales appointment.

Getting Your Real Estate License Is Not a “Get Rich Quick” Scheme.

The majority of REALTORs are not “rich,” though the most successful agents typically earn well above minimum wage.

Note #1: The minimum wage in residential real estate sales is zero minus office fees and dues, association fees and dues, and all of the costs associated with actually operating a business.

Top producers can earn well into the six-figures per year and some are pulling down seven-figure incomes, but the majority of agents earn between 40K to 60K dollars per year with only one in five earning more than $100,000 annually.

This is not to say you won’t be in the top 20% making 80% of the money!

But to make it big, you’d better have big goals and specific plans on how to achieve those goals.

As my father often told me when I was young, “Son, you can ‘spit’ in one hand and wish in the other. Tell me which one fills up faster.”

If you are fortunate enough to have one or two prospective clients who are planning to buy or sell real estate as soon as you get your license, that is fantastic.

But you will not “get rich” off a couple of sales and the entire world is not going to knock down your door begging you to represent them.

Never Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

Do not count on the couple of “easy” early leads you have until your “clients” are pre-approved for a loan, have signed agency agreements (thus becoming your actual clients), are under contract to buy or sell a house with you as their representative, are beyond inspections and repair negotiations, successfully through underwriting, have signed papers at the closing attorney’s office, and are handed the keys to their new house after the deed has been recorded at the County seat.

Note #2: “Easy” clients, such as family or friends, should be treated the same as those clients who are more difficult to come by. People you are close to can be among the most challenging clients to work with if you cannot speak frankly and separate the emotions of your relationships from the business at hand. As long as everyone is aware that you are a serious business person operating a serious business, everyone can relax and have fun. Always treat your clients fairly and honestly, regardless of your personal relationships, and you will be just fine.

Promote Thyself and Thy Business

In order to earn people’s business, you have to let them know you are in business. And you have to be persistent!

You have to work your sphere of influence. You have to market where you live and play.

You have to hold open houses. You have to knock on doors and talk to people.

You have to speak to people in the grocery line and at the gas pump. You have to wear a name tag everywhere you go.

You have to ask everyone you know and meet who they know that needs to sell or buy real estate.

In summary, you have to shamelessly self-promote. You don’t have to be annoying about it, but you actually least just a little bit.

In person. Online. Through the mail. Over the phone.

You have to have gumption to make it in the business of real estate sales. You have to let people know that you are in the business.

And you have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, no matter how big or small.

Live and Work to Serve Others

Real estate sales is a service business.

Though there is (hopefully) a transaction that results in the transfer of the ownership of property, real estate agents do not actually sell a product. We sell a service.

Home owners sell houses.  REALTORs sell knowledge, experience, guidance, expertise, and a helping hand.

REALTORs should care about their clients’ well-being and generally enjoy helping people.

And not just during the fun parts like chauffeuring clients in that shiny new Lexus you just purchased.

Note #3: Do not take buyer clients out to “look” at houses. Take them out to “buy” a house.

But also during the difficult parts, like negotiating repairs and conflict resolution.

To truly succeed in residential real estate sales, an agent must have a passion for helping people through one of the largest and most life-altering purchases and decisions they will make in their entire lives.

You should probably have more than just a moderate interest in houses, too, but the most important thing is your desire to help others.

If you help enough people and if you truly have your clients’ best interests in mind at all times, you will be rewarded infinitely.

Happy clients with whom you form relationships and keep in touch before, during, and in-between transactions are not only a source of future business, but the main reason you should be in this business.

To Be or Not To Be (a REALTOR)

Hopefully my statements will not dissuade anyone who is truly passionate about helping others, making a fantastic living, and building personal wealth with nearly unlimited earning potential through commissions, investments, and residual income from pursuing a career in real estate.

I believe wholeheartedly in pursuing dreams and serving others through a career that is more of a mission and a calling than just another job.

Business takes off for some agents more quickly than it does for others, but anyone who is persistent and who is committed to helping others has an opportunity to be successful.

Real estate agents are entrepreneurs operating small businesses which help drive our economy. Being a REALTOR requires discipline and flexibility, but it also offers tremendous freedom from being on an employer’s schedule.

Earning my real estate license in my thirties was the best career decision I have ever made, and I believe I needed the work experience earned in my twenties to be successful in my career as an agent. I look forward to growing my real estate business, helping good people find good homes, and putting food on my family’s table and in the pantry for many, many years to come.

But maybe I will save one or two people from thinking that real estate sales is nothing more than a highway to a quick buck and they will choose a different path. Perhaps they will choose to work in commercial real estate.

If you have any questions about working in residential real estate sales, feel free to contact me directly via email, social media, or a good old fashioned phone call or text.

And if you know anyone considering buying or selling a home, please send them my way!

See, I have no problem with shameless self-promotion.

About the Author:
Jimmy Grappone is a Virginia native living in Charlotte for nearly a decade. His hobbies include fishing, playing golf, walking the dog, and writing articles about things that interest him. Jimmy sells real estate for a living with Allen Tate REALTORs in North and South Carolina and he is passionate about helping his clients find shelter and having a good time along the way.  

Contact the Author:
Social Media: @jimmygrappone
Phone:  980-298-9385


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