Looking for a Great Career? Consider Real Estate

The pandemic has caused a fair number of people to reconsider their career options, either out of necessity after a layoff or because the disruption of COVID-19 has given them a new perspective and their current job just isn’t doing it for them anymore.

Although the published unemployment rates suggest there are not many jobs out there, I see help wanted signs all over town. At some point, the extra-generous unemployment checks from the government will stop and people will have to go back to work. Are you ready to make a change? If so, you might consider a career in real estate.

I once had a Realtor tell me, “Real estate is the easiest low-paying job you can find. Of course, if you’re willing to work hard, it’s also one of the best high-paying jobs there is.” If you want to come to work, drink coffee, chat with colleagues, and wait for your phone to ring, you can make $5,000 a year (half of which you’ll spend on your coffee habit). If you don’t actually need to make a living, this is a fun way to pass the time.

On the other hand, becoming a Realtor can be a good way to make a great living. Depending on the market, your income is largely up to you. If you want to make closer to $250,000 a year, be prepared to start work early and finish late. Sometimes you’ll need to work in the evenings and on the weekends. Occasionally, you’ll have to smooth things over with unpleasant vendors or frustrated clients. But if you genuinely like people and are interested in helping them achieve their goals, mostly you’ll get up every morning excited to go to work.

To sell real estate, you don’t need a college degree, but you do need a license. On average, taking the classes and passing the license exam takes about six months. For more on that, visit any real estate office in town and they can point you in the right direction. Getting your license is the easy part. Finding a real estate office that will hire you is also easy. However, finding an office that will support you as you convert the memorized facts required to get your license into useful information and a path toward success is harder.

Not all offices have the resources or inclination to support new Realtors. Because getting licensed is relatively easy, real estate brokers see a lot of people come into the profession. However, we also see the majority of those people leave after a year or two. I admit, if I see a chatty coffee drinker who comes in late and leaves early, I’m less inclined to serve as a mentor.

However, when I see a new agent asking questions, doing research, and putting in the time, my management team and I get to work supporting that person. In any transaction, agents must sort through hundreds of documents. Having someone who can point to the right one saves time and builds confidence. Knowing the ins and outs of a successful listing presentation, knowing which questions to ask prospective buyers, knowing which inspectors to call, knowing a lender’s timetable, and so many other issues are far easier with the help of a mentor.

And, an experienced Realtor knows how to convert a listing into a sale and how to streamline the buying process so buyers only see the properties that fit their needs. Finally, experienced Realtors can help new ones promote themselves. Successful Realtors aren’t bashful about telling friends and family what they do for a living. Relationships are everything. As it turns out, helping people get what they need is not only the right thing to do, but also the best strategy for a successful business.

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.

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