Making a career out of Real Estate

Making a career out of Real Estate

by -

061207CAREER copy.jpg
Put those endless 9 to 5, pencil-pushing, desk-sitting doldrums to an end by taking a step beyond the desk into a new job opportunity: real estate.

Many professionals are drawn to real estate because of the freedom, excitement and – if you’re good at it – hefty pay. “Your own dedication affects your paycheck,” says Meghan Ferguson, agent with Coldwell Banker West Shell. “If you’re a go-getter, you get paid accordingly.”

Agents are also drawn to the opportunity to set their own hours – making their own appointments, days off, etc. Ferguson chooses to work every day, unless she’s in another city: “I’m out of town a lot more than I used to be,” she laughs.

Others become agents because they have the disposition for the business. Ferguson was one of these: “My father was a salesman and always pushed me toward it, but I was always like, ‘Ugh.’ I thought it was all corporate,” Ferguson says. “But then I realized that sales was just building relationships and helping people. I’d already been doing that my whole life. It seemed like the perfect fit for me.”

Aside from the monetary benefits, selling real estate can be a positive experience, Ferguson says. “Every time you go after a sale or project, you set a goal for yourself and your client. Helping them in a very important step in their lives is very rewarding,” she says.

Real estate is generally acknowledged as a fast-paced profession, so one thing to keep in mind before committing is deciding whether you can juggle the rest of your life (family, hobbies, etc.) with the market. “It is possible,” Ferguson says. “You end up having to schedule that time. Put your family commitment first, and schedule your appointments around that.”

Training to become an agent takes six weeks if the classes are everyday, but you can accommodate it to your lifestyle, Ferguson says. “Some people who have another job can still keep that job. It’s pretty flexible in that sense,” she says. Some real estate companies will pay for future agents’ training, once that prospective agent is officially licensed and under contract with that agency.

The first integral step to real estate is getting a mentor, someone who’s been in the business for a long time, Ferguson says, since the fast-paced market can be scary when you’re starting out. “It’s better to team up with somebody who knows their business, and then change their technique to work for you,” she says.

Although newcomers to the market can get started fairly quickly, Ferguson advises future agents to put money aside before beginning training. “Go in expecting not to make money your first year. And if you do, that’s fine. But if you can stick to it for a full year, your second year will pay you back,” she says.

According to Ferguson, by the second year, the agent has forged connections with clients, which in turn yields referrals, some of which Ferguson says she had no idea how they’d heard of her. “I don’t have to go out and actively pursue leads, but in the first year, that’s all you’re focused on.”

More experience also brings a specialty, whether an agent’s expertise is in selling condos, homes, land or property. Ferguson recommends trying them all, and then going with the one you feel most comfortable with.

Another decision to consider in real estate is which company you should become a part of. Different companies offer different benefits and programs, so finding a company that fits your needs is essential.

Cincinnati-based Huff Realty is very agent-centric, says Joy Amann, chief operating officer of the Ft. Mitchell location.

“The ability to facilitate and manage it to its final success is all provided for our agents and clients alike in a manner that just really gives them a competitive advantage,” Amann says.

Huff also pays for continued education classes, says Angie Sabet, an agent with Huff Realty for nine months. “I interviewed with three managers before I chose Huff,” she says. “During training, I followed my poor manager around for weeks before I felt comfortable enough to be on my own.”

Chuck Thompson, owner of EXIT Realty’s Cincinnati branch, says EXIT differs from other realty companies in many ways, namely in different programs set up to reward exemplary agents.

The way an agent’s commission is split is one of EXIT’s benefits. Most agents start out with 50/50 at other companies, Thompson says. EXIT, however, splits commission 70/30 no matter what, but agents who have earned $100,000 in gross commission in one year earn 90 percent of profits for the rest of the year.

EXIT agents are also rewarded for referring other agents for the company, Thompson says. If an agent refers another agent to EXIT, he or she will receive 10 percent of the gross commission every time the referral closes a deal, with a maximum of $10,000 given per agent per year, just for sponsoring.

This referral percentage is rewarded to an agent even after the agent has left the company (as long as the agent doesn’t join another real estate company) at 7 percent of the commission, and after death, 5 percent of each referral’s commission is given to the agent’s beneficiary.