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One of my long-term buddies, Ed, has been a part-time real estate agent for about a year. He also has a stable job working in the government’s IT department. When we were having a drink the other day, he asked me whether he should quit his current job and go full-time into building his real estate sales business.
I told him that some people are risk-takers. They tend to burn all the bridges and go full speed toward their goal. On the other hand, some are risk-averse. They would test the water one step at a time.
So should you quit your job and become a realtor? Yes, although you could quit your job and become a realtor, this is only given if you have already weighed all the pros and cons of this decision carefully. And that you came to the conclusion this is the most beneficial and rational choice to make for your career.
In this post, I’ll go over the different critical factors you should consider before deciding to go all-in and become a realtor.
12 Must-Considered Factors Before Quitting your Job and Become a Full-Time Realtor
1) Is it necessary to choose between the two?
Before you decide to jump the ship, you should ask yourself whether it is necessary to do so. I’ve known many agents who have another job – for example, a teacher, firefighter, IT consultant, investment analyst, beauty consultant. Some have these dual occupations for pretty much their entire career life, and they were totally fine with it.
So what are the reasons why you need to quit the current position?
- Is your employer not allowing you from being a real estate agent?
- Is there a conflict of interest between the two professions?
- Did you maximize all your available time and resources, so the only way to grow your real estate business is by going full-time?
(Here’s another article you might be interested: Can a Teacher also be a Real Estate Agent?)
2) Do you REALLY like being a realtor?
Doing something once in a while versus doing something 40 hours/week are two totally different experience.
Yes, I agree it is nice to have a big commission every time a sales goes through. But let me remind you of the nature of being a real estate salesperson.
You’ll be doing tons of:
- prospecting, networking, and follow up work.
- handling the advertising and marketing campaign.
- getting to know new clients and seeing different properties
- driving between properties
- handling client’s concerns and objections
- managing their expectation
- negotiating sales for clients
- drafting the purchasing&sale offer and coordinate the signing for all parties
- keeping up to date with the real estate laws and fulfill the continuing education requirement
No doubt that being a real estate salesperson could be a great career choice for some people. But if you do not like constantly dealing with people or driving around, this could be the worst profession to get into full-time.
3) Do you like your current job?
Besides the income consideration, there could be other aspects of a job that could bring you an irreplaceable sense of fulfillment. Some people could hold a very strong sense of mission in their work.
For instance, a teacher could feel incredibly joyful when they see the growth of their students. A medical physician may only find the purpose of a career in saving lives. On the other hand, an athlete could be dedicated to enjoying every moment of his professional games. There isn’t anything that could replace this sense of fulfillment.
A while ago, I contacted the Tattoedagent, Brian O’Neill. In addition to being a real estate agent, I noticed that he also has another job. Below is a snippet I got from his website.
“As a firefighter it’s my job to pre-fire plan structures, train, educate and protect the citizens of my city. As a real estate agent, my fiduciary duty to you as a client, is obedience, loyalty, disclosure, confidentiality and accountability and reasonable care. So I’m a protector in both industries!”Quote from thetattooedagent.com
I know that you definitely would have a sense of accomplishment when you can find a dream home for your client. Or when you can sell their property at a reasonable price so that they can move on to their life. But is there anything unique from the other occupation that you would regret in giving up?
4) What is the most important aspect of a career to you?
Although everyone has different priorities, some common considerations could be critical when it comes to evaluating your career choices.
Is having flexible work hours important to you?
If you are working at a typical 9 to 5 hours job, you probably don’t have much of a say over the work hours. Being a real estate agent could bring you this flexibility. I know of several agents who would hustle hard during the peak season, then take a long holiday after that.
Furthermore, I know a realtor who is a father to two young children. He values highly of his family time, so he would not arrange appointments during important family moments. He proudly told me that since he started in the real estate sales business, he never miss any celebration with his wife’s birthday, anniversary, body checkup during pregnancy, his children’s school concerts, or graduation ceremonies.
Do you require income stability?
When you are working as a salaried employee, you will get paid regularly as long as you remain in the position. The pay could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. But regardless of the payment mode, you know that you are going to get compensated.
On the other hand, there is no guaranteed that you would make a sale even after you have done tons of work for your clients. There are just so many factors that a deal could turn south. The client changes mind, their situation changes, or they cannot get approved with a mortgage.
Furthermore, you could be bringing significant sales volume during peak season, but there could also be months with very slow business activities. Therefore, you need to account for those downtimes and save accordingly.
Do you desire full ownership of your work?
Some people are unemployable. I’m not saying it because they lack work ethics or skills. Rather they prefer to run their own business. Most real estate sales professionals are self-employed.
Since you are the business owner, you have a high degree of control in how to run the real estate practice. You could decide on the type of niche to specialize in and ways to service clients that are effective for you. But of course, even with such flexibility, you still need to comply with the regulatory rules.
Furthermore, if you set up your own brokerage, the firm could be a valuable asset that you could sell to another business owner. This could be a nice way to supplement your retirement savings.
5) What is something that your current job has over to being a realtor?
Employee benefits: To reduce the turnover rate, many corporations would offer benefits such as medical insurance or pension savings to their employees. This benefit could be a huge perk for people who cannot get health coverage elsewhere. This could be due to their pre-existing medical conditions or family history.
But if your spouse also has coverage through their workplace, then you might be able to get covered through the spousal plan. You could ask your spouse to check with their HR personnel.
Job protection: Yet, no job is guaranteed to be secured for a lifetime. But some occupations do offer greater security than most others. For example, if you are a public school teacher protected by the union or you are a government staff, then your employment could be relatively safer. This is especially true when you are in a system that counts into seniority, and you have been in the position long enough.
Paid education: To enhance the skill set of their staff, some companies would finance the tuition for them. I have a close friend who works at a major financial institution. Her firm fully paid for all the courses and exam fees for her to become a licensed accountant.
6) What is something a real estate sales profession has over your current job?
There is less office politics!
In many traditional office settings, you are pretty much stuck with the same colleagues every day. If you like them all, then that’s terrific. But chances are there could be someone who always gets you into your nerves that you do not enjoy working with. Things could get more bizarre when it turns into office politics. If the person that you do not get along is your boss, then work life could be a nightmare.
On the other hand, this scenario is a lot less likely to happen when you’re working as a real estate agent. No matter how much you dislike a client, you only need to deal with them for a short period. In extreme cases, you could even refuse to take them on as a client.
As with the colleagues in your brokerage office, the interaction could be minimal. I talked to several agents before writing this article. They said that they rarely would go to their office because most of the activities are done at the subject property. The only time they would go is when there are training sessions, they need to pick up a property key, or they need a place for a preliminary meeting with new clients. Even when there is a need for document submission, it can be electronically transferred to the office.
Your income is truly based on your performance.
In a corporate world, the effort that you put into work might not totally get reflected in your paycheque immediately. According to the famous 80/20 rule, 20% of people are actually doing 80% of the work. 80% of the profit is earned by 20% of the people. However, the people who complete all the tasks do not necessarily be in the same group who makes the most.
Sometimes the payout could be limited by the structure of the company too. For instance, I have a friend who is a part of a union. He is very hard-working, brilliant, and contributes significantly to the firm. His supervisor once told him that he wishes he could increase his salary and provide him with a big bonus. But unfortunately, in the unionized setting, all workers must have equal pay, despite the performance difference.
Whereas it is totally different when you are running your own real estate sales business. Your earning is purely subjected to your sales performance and the effectiveness of operating the business. There is no excuse and no pointing fingers of why things turn south. The success or failure of the business lies entirely on you.
7) What is the outlook of your current job?
Instead of merely focusing on the current moment, it’s better to look beyond three to five years. Will there be a lot of staff retiring in your workplace? Is it likely that you’ll get a promotion by then? Is that something you are looking forward to?
On the macro level, how is the trend of your working industry? Some businesses could be going through downsizing, while some could be completely replaced by advanced technology. As much as everyone loves working in the “Office,” the closedown of the “Dunder Mifflin” paper company is unavoidable.
8) What is your plan of actions in being a full-time real estate agent?
If you jump ship, you better know where you are jumping to. What is your plan in running the real estate sales business when you quit your current job?
Will you allocate the extra time in closing more sales on your own? Over time, will you be hiring an assistant to handle the admin duties? What about getting your career to the next level and start your own brokerage firm? This way, you could build up a team of sales associates and make your business more scalable.
9) What does your family think?
The best teammate you could have in life is your family. Especially when you have a spouse, this is an important discussion you must have. After all, the changes in your career do not only affect you but the entire family.
Before you take any action, let them know what you think. For example, why do you want to become a full-time realtor? What is your plan? Do you have any backup plans? Will there be any financial changes to the family in the short run? Since you could be spending more time in the real estate business initially, do you need help from your spouse to take up more household responsibility?
Never assume your spouse would fully understand and take action without a thorough discussion. Remember the episode in the “Office” where Jim quitted “Dundee Mifflin” to start his business, but didn’t talk to Pam first. It really created a lot of unnecessary stress and conflict. This could be prevented through an honest and open discussion at the beginning.
10) Are you financially ready to make a move?
Most businesses fail because they do not have a backup plan. In the real estate sales industry, you need to account for the days of slow business activities. Typically speaking, you should have savings that are good enough to cover 6 months to 1 year of mandatory expenses. Below is a list of common household expenses.
- Property tax
- Car payment/lease
- Home & car insurance
- Phone bills
Furthermore, before you quit your current job, you may consult with the HR personnel whether there would be any severance package. Although, to my understanding, severance is usually available when you are being laid off rather than quitting, it still worth to find out.
11) Are you emotionally ready?
As mentioned earlier, doing something occasionally versus doing something full-time are two different beasts. If your financial well-being relies entirely on the real estate commission, this could be quite stressful. In fact, some people do not perform well under this level of stress and end up having fewer sales.
I have a friend who has another full-time job. She can make good real estate commission as a side gig. She expressed this setup allows her to act the most confidently and genuinely in front of her real estate clients. The reason is regardless of whether the deal goes through or not, it wouldn’t be a massive impact on her financial well-being.
12) Do you have adequate real estate business to justify the move?
As much as we all want a prosperous future for our business, if you are not generating significant profit, then you only have a hobby rather than a real business.
It’s okay that to think optimistically, but can that view by justified by your previous track record in the real estate business? As Mr. Wonderful always says in Shark Tank, you need to look at the numbers.
If you only do a couple of deals every year, and they are mostly from your friends and family, then you should think twice.
The Bottom Line- Should you Quit your Job and Become a Realtor?
This is only the question where you can answer for yourself. Many business gurus might suggest you should follow your heart and do what your guts tell you to. I believe a wise business decision is to take calculated risks only when the potential reward can justify them.
Do you remember the formula from the Statistics class 101? To find out the expected reward, you need to figure out how likely it is going to happen and the value of the actual return.
Keep in mind that if you have a family, then it is not just you who is taking risks. Instead, the entire family could be taking with you. Therefore, you must weigh all the pros and cons carefully.
So what are some considerations you would have before quitting a job and become a full-time real estate agent? Please let me know in the comment section below.
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