So you’re thinking about becoming a real estate agent? Congrats! This is an exciting and busy industry with lots of opportunity for growth. The housing market has certainly seen its shares up major ups and downs in the past several years, but the fact is that there will always be someone in need of a realtor. Job transfers, marriages, and new babies happen all the time, regardless of how the market is going. Even though there may never be another housing boom like what we saw in the early 2000s, the buying and selling of homes never stops. That is where you come in.
Some of the overall job requirements are obvious. You will probably be on your feet as often as you are at your desk, so be prepared for lots of walking and stair climbing. A bright, positive personality is a must as well, since you will be meeting all types of clients and homeowners. A strong drive to close sales is key, but it is equally important to have a good sense of realistic expectations. Sometimes, you will need to talk someone out of buying a certain house (possibly one they can’t afford, or one which requires too much work), even though that quick sale would mean commission for you. Building good client relationships are just a part of a real estate agent’s job description. Let’s take a look at some of the other aspects.
First and Foremost – Fiduciary Duty to Your Client
When I was looking for a new home after our second baby came along, I remember seriously considering one house in particular. It was nicer than other homes we had seen, and in foreclosure, which meant we might actually be able to afford it. It was in a very affluent area, with award winning schools, and it had plenty of space for our family. The problems were that it was in dire need of some major renovations, and the fact that it was in such a high-end neighborhood meant the taxes were incredibly steep. Even though I might have reacted emotionally in the moment, and put an offer in on that house, my agent talked me out of it. She knew this was to much for us to undertake with two young children, and still being relatively new in our careers.
I alluded to this in the intro, but it is vitally important that you are working in the best interest of your client at all times. Sometimes, there will be situations where it seems tempting to put your own interests, or even those of a third party first, but keeping your clients in the forefront is going to lead to a much more beneficial relationship. The more they trust you, the more likely they are to continue working with you, and the more likely they are to return to you when it is time to buy or sell again in the future.
Finding Houses and Showing Them to Your Clients
This one seems obvious, but it may be more of a chore than you think. Many times, your clients are going to have these pie-in-the-sky dreams of four bedroom houses on 3 acres of land, when in reality, their budget is really only going to afford them a condo. It will be your job to search high and low for the best possible scenarios, and show them to your clients. You will have to be flexible, and creative in your choices. Maybe they can’t afford that large single home in the middle of town, but what if you can find them something comparable, with more of a commute? Maybe they want three bedrooms, but you found them a great two bedroom house with a finished attic. Help them see the potential in homes, and not just look at them as they are.
When you take your clients to these homes, you might know in the first few seconds whether they love or hate it. It is important to show them every aspect of the property anyway, so they can make a more rational and less emotional decision. They may have fallen in love with the staging and presentation of the house, but didn’t notice the electrical problems. Your expertise in knowing the ins and outs of home buying will be tremendously helpful in guiding your clients to the right home for them.
Also, make sure you are comfortable driving all over the area. If you have a good sense of direction, you’re all set. If not, make sure you have a reliable navigation system. You will be showing houses that are sometimes over an hour away from where you live and work.
Remember that you are not just a buyer’s agent. Your sellers will need your help every bit as much. Homes are hard to sell, so make sure you have some skill in staging, photography, and copywriting. Make people want to come see this house, even if it’s not the house they think they want. This system works both ways. Follow up on any showings, and keep interested parties engaged. A realtor who can sell a house at a good price for their clients has just earned a customer for life.
Disclosure and Negotiation
Certainly, there will be confidential information that you are privy to as a part of a real estate transaction. While it is your duty to keep those matters private, it is also your ethical responsibility to disclose any problems you are aware of. If this house has had issues in the past with flooding, or mold, those things need to be said. If the house is for sale as the result of a divorce, that is not anyone’s business except the seller’s. More on ethics and conduct can be found here.
Once your clients have come to the decision to buy or sell, negotiating on their behalf is another large aspect of your job as a real estate agent. You want to get the highest price for your sellers, and the lowest price for your buyers. Then, you get to hand over the keys to your happy clients – the reward for a job well done.