Haus Schwatz: Cati's DC Real Estate


So You Want To Be A Real Estate Agent? Some Unsolicited Advice

Erzsi--this one is for you!  I couldn't have said it any better.  I know you've made up your mind (and I do remember the tremendous excitement), but this is a great list not scare you but rather to help brace yourself with.  I find the most important advice given here is to learn to "move on" from abusive situations and set backs.  For many of us--and especially those who care the most about their clients--this is one of the hardest parts.  Good luck!

AdviceSo You Want To Be A Real Estate Agent?  Some Unsolicited Advice

So you're thinking about becoming a real estate agent?  You really enjoyed looking at houses when you bought yours.  Your agent made it look like a ton of fun, and you saw that HUGE paycheck she got at closing!  You want a piece of that action don't you??

You'll find the barriers to entry amazingly low.  If you've got about $1000 in cash, the time to take four mandatory classes and the ability to pass a two part exam, you too can call yourself an Ohio real estate agent.  Notice I said agent, NOT REALTOR®.  You may not realize it yet, but they're not exactly the same thing, but that's a topic for another day.

Now there are many things those four classes will teach you, but bottom line what they're priming you for is TO PASS THE EXAM!  That's ALL! 

They are NOT going to truly teach you how to be an agent, the pros and cons of the trade.

You won't find a single minute spent on (in no particular order):

  • How to prospect for clients.  What do you do after you're worked through your friends and family?
  • How to set a budget.  It's a business, not a hobby.

    It costs money to make money

  • That it takes money to make money!  You'll find there are a tremendous amount of people, companies and organizations with their hands out.  It starts with your broker, your state and local organizations, MLS, sign companies, lock will NEVER stop, so you better plan for it.
  • Your broker may or may not train you!  As a new agent, your broker selection might be the most critical choice you can make.  Don't just take the first broker you talk to.  Interview them.  Check out the different models.  Find the right one for you.  There truly IS something for everyone.
  • You're going to get yelled at!  And it won't always be your fault (although sometimes it probably will be).  You're dealing with big money here.  Buyers and sellers get stressed, and you're the closest target.
  • Your fellow agents may not be your friends.  This is a whole topic in itself, but you may be friends, but you may also be competitors.  Some will NOT play nice in the sandbox with you.  There are some HUGE egos in this business.  Despite this, DO find someone you can trust.  Get  a mentor.  Get a back up agent that can cover you when you take a vacation. 
  • Your fellow agents are under no obligation to cut you slack or point out your errors.  Their FIRST AND PRIMARY obligation is THEIR clients.  That's their job.  They shouldn't be pointing out that you


    forgot to ask for closing costs, that you didn't get the inspections done on time....they're just going to enjoy the benefit of your mistake.
  • This life will eat up EVERY hour of your life if you let it.  It will take away birthdays, kids ball games, church services, you name it, IF you don't set boundaries, your life will be consumed.  SET THEM!
  • Be prepared for the unexpected.   Some drunk teenage idiot in a golf cart WILL run over one of your signs at 2 in the morning.  Sellers will change their minds about selling their homes.  In happens, roll with it and move on.
  • Be prepared to be used.  You'll get called to a listing appointment where they have absolutely no intent of hiring you.  They just want to pick your brain.  You won't always know it at the time, but you'll realize it later.  It happens.  Vent here if you need to, but move on.
  • Prospect, prospect, prospect.  Yes I know this is the second time we mentioned that....but without it, you're toast.  You've got to have new business coming at all times.  If you're going to pay someone for leads, do your homework first. "Old school" things like postcards still work if done properly.


  • Get active in Social Media.  Blog.  Tweet.  Facebook.  Foursquare...whatever works for you.  It's mostly cheap, and it evens the playing field with all those that have MUCH MORE experience than you....but aren't present.
  • Get the right tools for the trade.  Smartphone & Laptop/tablet at a bare minimum.  Get the software you need.  Get a website.  Ditch the hotmail email address.
  • Have cash reserves, or don't give up your day job.  We're in a business where today's success doesn't pay you for 30 to 60 days out or more, and DON'T spend that check before it's in your hands.
  • Understand your local market conditions.  Depending on how good or bad it is, NOW may not be the best time to enter the market.  That said, if you can survive this, you'll be toughened and skilled beyond anyone who's ONLY sold in an up market.

We could go on for pages like this.  Bottom line, before you commit to the classes and the time, talk to a few agents and get the real skinny.  Your agent may have made it look easy when they helped you find that house or sell your home, but agents are like ducks on a pond.  We'll make it look smooth and calm on the surface, but we're paddling like maniacs out of sight!  So do your homework. 

We're NOT saying to not try this profession, just come in with your eyes wide open.  There's huge reward in doing the job well, finding that JUST RIGHT home for someone, selling that home and letting someone move to the next chapter of their lives.  It's NOT just about the paycheck :)

We hope you find the advice helpful in making your decisions and planning your future!
Liz and Bill aka BLiz

The Liz Spear Team
Elizabeth & William Spear
RE/MAX Elite
Two locations: Lebanon & Mason, OH
Office direct: 513-248-3660
Liz direct:  513-265-3004
Fax: 866-302-8418

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© 2012, Catarina Bannier


Comment balloon 8 commentsCatarina Bannier • May 02 2011 11:22AM


Great catch for a re-blog. This post is really filled with useful information for all of us in the business.

Posted by Vickie Nagy, Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate) almost 8 years ago

Catarina, great post. Another thing they need is thick skin. You are going to get rejected. It not always your fault. Some people are high maintenance and will call you constantly. Learn to handle it.

Posted by Kathy Denworth, Realtor in the Florida Keys, Islamorada, Key Largo (Century 21 Schwartz Realty) almost 8 years ago

But... you didn't mention how fun it is to work 24 / 7, and to take our work on vacation with us!

On the other hand.... this is one of the only industries where you can work as hard as you like, and see the results of your efforts: or go on vacation whenever you like, with no one to tell you No.

Love it!


Posted by Ken and Leslye Huebsch, Realtors - Harrisburg Homes for Sale 717.514.1793 (3x Individual Agent of the Year, Luxury Homes, First-Time Buyers, Residential Resales, New Construction) almost 8 years ago

Catarina, Thanks for the reblog!  Appreciate the extra p.r.   And hope it helps Erzsi know what she's getting into! :)

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 almost 8 years ago

Thanks - this is exactly what I expect and we've been told in the pre-licensing class. And still I think it's the right "thing" for me. Let's talk, Cati

Posted by Elisabeth Gelos almost 8 years ago

Vickie--that's so true.  Even for those of us who have been doing this for a while it helps seeing such a list every now and then.  It's a good reminder that we're all in the same boat with our little grievances, and with the good parts as well!

Kathy, I can deal a lot better with the constant callers and those that need extra hand-holding than with those that reject me!  Maybe it's a mommy thing :-)

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) almost 8 years ago

Hi, Ken or Leslye, yes, that's what we all love so much about it... but you can't always have it both ways. 

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) almost 8 years ago
Just to comment on your post, I am a real satete agent in the state of nj. And in this area the builders are suffering because they are not selling there properties. So they are slashing prices just to get the property sold. If you are going to use an agent, it's best if you use your own agent and not the builders agent for obvious reasons. If you really want the property just place the offer you want (minus the 3% off you were looking for) and see where it takes you. You never know builder might just want to get rid of the property to break even on his investment instead of having it sit on the market.Good Luck!
Posted by James about 7 years ago