Real Estate
- Tough Career Choice

Real Estate Investing

Real Estate - Tough Career Choice

Set your own hours, spend a lot of time outdoors, make lots of money. Sound good? With a career in Real Estate it is possible to have those things. But free lunches are hard to come by and this is no exception. Being a Real Estate Broker or Agent is a tough career choice.

Realtors (Agents, Estate Agents, Brokers and other legal categories which vary by state, country and license or experience level) all face many of the same challenges every day. Since property transactions are complex, filled with legal requirements and human factors, and usually involve significant amounts of money, agents have to negotiate a labyrinth of often murky details when closing every deal.

Part businessperson, part psychologist, part friend and always far too busy, an agent participates in every phase of a transaction. He or she needs to know the local and larger market, have at hand an encyclopedic knowledge of related law and oversee dozens of details on several simultaneous deals. And all this while sometimes working from early morning until late at night, any day of the week.

Sales, of course, is central to any successful agent's career. The ability to initiate, negotiate and close a deal that's acceptable and fair to all parties is a skill with many facets. Enthusiasm and the desire and ability to work with people is a paramount.

But a sale starts before a property is listed and doesn't end when the agreement is reached. Before properties are listed they're discovered, appraised and compared. When agreement is reached, a new phase begins involving escrow accounts, title companies, insurance requirements, inspections and a host of other complex undertakings. In between, properties have to be prepared for sale and advertised and potential clients sought and brought for showings. And you thought brain surgery was complicated!

Since real estate transactions usually involve large sums, individuals involved can and often do get very upset when things don't go exactly as planned. And things rarely go exactly as planned when so many things have to happen just right, many of which are interdependent. Keeping everyone satisfied, or mollifying them when they can't be, and moving the process forward requires a very special set of skills.

There are also definite slow sales periods, sometimes a particular month, sometimes longer, where there may be lots of activity and a hundred things to do but few sales to show for the effort. This is especially true given the continuing amount of fierce competition from the large number of agents in the same geographical area. In 2004 in the U.S., brokers and agents numbered about 460,000, many of whom worked only part-time.

And all for a commission of a few percent. Although the potential for a high income is definitely present, particularly in the healthy market of the last few years, many agents make much less than many think. In the U.S. the middle 50 percent earned between $23,500 and $58,110 per year.

But on the upside, and there assuredly is one, there are those attractive features mentioned at the outset. For the entrepreneurial type, the freedom to set one's hours, to take risks and reap rewards consequent with one's own efforts and the varied locations and kinds of activity can be extremely gratifying. And sometimes the money isn't bad, either.


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