Is becoming a real estate agent in California worth it? It’s a question that every licensed real estate agent has considered before taking the plunge, and it’s not an easy one to answer.Sure, the money can be good, but if the market is slow and things are not going your way, it can be disappointing as well. As for the nature of the job, it’s a perfect fit for some personalities and a complete mismatch for others. It’s ultimately a very personal question and arriving at an answer is a case of weighing up the pros and cons and then seeing where you stand.That’s where this guide comes in. Over the next few pages, we’ll highlight the best things and worst things about being a real estate agent while also looking at the challenges and potential pitfalls.
Potential Benefits of Becoming a Real Estate Agent in CaliforniaThere are numerous perks to being a real estate agent, including a respectable salary and a certain level of freedom that you don’t get with many other professions.The most notable benefits include:
Income potential and commission-based earningsIn California, real estate agents make an average of $90,000 a year. It’s far from the highest-paid profession in the state, but therein lies the beauty, as it can be.Agents usually collect a commission of between 2 and 3%. The more clients they have and the more houses they sell, the more money they make. What’s more, if the houses are in affluent areas and the agent can attract the right buyers, they’ll secure a sizeable payoff.For instance, imagine that your client has a $2 million house. It might take you a few months to find a suitable buyer, as buyers with multi-million dollar budgets are hard to come by, but when you do, you’ll walk away with between $40,000 and $60,000.That’s just one house. Do that a second time and you’ve already hit the average annual salary. Do it a few more times and you’re sitting at around $200,000 a year.Of course, it takes time to build the trust of wealthy homeowners and get those kinds of properties on your list, but that’s something that you can build toward.
Flexibility and independenceYou can be your own boss as a real estate agent. You must work under a real estate broker, but you still have a lot of freedom and can choose when you work. If you need to schedule your hours around picking up your kids from school or studying part-time, there’s nothing stopping you!Of course, as any freelancer, business owner, and self-employed individual will tell you, just because you can set your own hours doesn’t mean you will. You’ll often feel pressured into working long hours to ensure you know where the next paycheck is coming from and to keep your clients happy. But that’s the name of the game, and you certainly have more options.
Opportunities for professional growth and advancementThere are a lot of opportunities to grow yourself and your business. You can enter new markets, increase your list of clients, and focus on more lucrative areas.You also have easy access to one of the best investment opportunities in the world. Everyone wants a piece of the real estate industry, whether it’s to buy and flip an old and dilapidated house, buy to rent, or start your own project. As a real estate agent, you’ll have the connections and knowledge to get a head start.
NetworkingYou will meet a lot of people during your real estate career. You’ll encounter fellow agents and business owners, as well as buyers and sellers from all walks of life.Real estate agents are often well-connected to their communities. They get their faces out there using marketing materials, they use their people skills to meet people at events, and they do business with a lot of locals.It’s a great job for networking, which is especially beneficial if you ever want to get into local politics or just expand your business.
Helping clients with real estate needsA house is the biggest purchase that most people will make. It’s also the most important. Whether they’re buying an apartment to prepare for their first job in the city or a 5-bedroom home in the suburbs to start a family, that purchase will shape their lives. And as a real estate agent, you’re part of it.You can help them to find the perfect home and make the right decision, and when you close on a property, you do so with the knowledge that entire generations could be raised there.It’s a big responsibility, and if you take pride in your work and feel a sense of satisfaction after helping others, it could be the perfect job.
The Downsides of Becoming a Real Estate AgentA real estate license isn’t a golden ticket that will make your life complete. It takes a lot of hard work to succeed in this sector, and there are a number of downsides to look out for.
Success Isn’t ImmediateIt could be months before you close your first deal and years before you settle into a steady rhythm of clients. It’s a long and slow process, as you need to show the community that you’re good at what you do, and while modern marketing methods can be applied, real estate is still largely reliant on word of mouth.
You Will Experience Difficult TimesYou will be rejected. Sales will fall through. And there will be times when it seems like everything is conspiring against you. Such is the life of the business owner.You have to learn how to roll with the punches if you want to make a success of this career. Not everyone is capable of doing that.
It is a Highly Competitive SectorIn an ideal world, you would acquire your real estate license, announce yourself to the world, and then wait for the clients to call. In reality, it’s not that straightforward.The real estate business is fiercely competitive. There are thousands of agents in California and dozens in your particular region. Many of these will have more experience than you, many will have more clients, and the majority will be willing to work just as hard.If you want to have a successful career, you must differentiate yourself.
Some People Are Hard to Work WithAny business that puts you face-to-face with customers is going to be challenging. You will encounter people who frustrate you and anger you, people whose goal in life seems to be annoying you. As a real estate professional, you must keep your cool and remain pleasant, and that’s not always easy.
What to Consider When Evaluating the Worth of Becoming a Real Estate AgentAfter considering the pros and cons, there are a few other things to factor into the equation:
Licensing and educational requirementsTo become a real estate agent in California, you must be at least 18 and need to have completed 135 hours of real estate education. This is something that you can do online, with several schools offering affordable tuition and preparing you for your real estate exam.License Solution for instance, contains packages that start at less than $100, while 360training and Aceable can teach you everything you need to know for a similar price.You will learn about real estate practices, regulations, rules, and more. Upon finishing these courses, you can apply for an exam, the completion of which will grant you a real estate license.
Financial investment in training and marketingAlthough the aforementioned real estate schools are very reasonably priced, they are not the only educational expense. The best agents arrange continuing education to ensure they can improve their skills and knowledge.There are also marketing expenses to consider. You must market your services to sellers, promote open houses to potential buyers, and then ensure that everyone in the area knows your name and contact details.
Market competition and saturationAs noted above, the real estate sector is highly competitive and that’s not changing anytime soon. If you can’t make yourself heard above all the noise, it will be very difficult to make a name for yourself.
Fluctuating real estate market conditionsYou’re a slave to market conditions. Sure, everyone needs somewhere to live, and there will always be houses to buy and sell. But as we have seen in recent years, world events and major economic shifts can drastically change the market and make life very difficult for even the most experienced of agents.
The California Real Estate MarketCalifornia has one of the strongest and biggest real estate markets in the United States. Here are a few trends worth noting about the current and future state of this sector:
Fewer Homes for SaleAlthough there are still a lot of new homes being built in the state, there has been a notable drop in the number of homes for sale in the last few years. Between 2021 and 2022 for instance, resales dropped by nearly a fifth, and those rates have continued through 2023.
Mortgage Rates are HigherIncreasing mortgage rates are concerning many buyers and causing them to bide their time. This could continue in the months ahead, but they are expected to stabilize before long.
Remote Workers Could Influence the MarketIn years to come, remote workers will constitute a larger share of home buyers, which should add some interesting variables to a market typically driven by proximity to major cities and workplaces.
Anything Can HappenThere is no telling what the future holds for the real estate sector. It could climb, it could stabilize, or it could collapse. What we do know is that people will need homes regardless and there will always be work for real estate agents.
What Skills and Traits Do Real Estate Agents Have?Money and time—those are the two things that people focus on the most when considering a new profession. It’s all about how much they can make, how much freedom they will have, and whether it’s easy for them to take time off.But while these things are important, what you should be asking yourself is whether you have the skillset needed to make real estate work for you. If your people skills leave a lot to be desired, you strive for job security, and you don’t have a passion for property, it’s definitely not worth being a real estate agent.The best agents usually have the following traits:
- Self-motivated: As your own boss, you don’t have anyone to force you to go to work or make sure you’re pulling your weight. That’s all on you.
- Problem Solvers: Real estate agents are great problem solvers and can deal with an array of issues that come their way.
- Great Work Ethic: Every lead should be chased and every chance should be taken. It is a crowded market and competition is fierce, so you’ll need to work hard.
- Engaging Personality: Having a likable and engaging personality is key to being a good agent.
- A Love of Property: Finally, it should go without saying that you need to have a passion for property to make this work.
- Always Learner: Your passion for homes should also extend into education, as there’s always something new to learn.