Know Why People Fail Before You Choose a Real Estate Career

Real estate agent greeting couple at a house
••• Noel Hendrickson/Blend Images/Getty Images

Being successful in a real estate career—or any career—is more likely to be a success if you start out with realistic expectations. An understanding of what is involved in a realtor career will help you be better prepared and able to plan for overcoming obstacles that will come up.

Average Income of a Real Estate Agent

According to the Department of Labor, the median real estate agent income is $56,730 gross, meaning business expenses still need to be paid. Even if you're with a broker that provides an office, phone, business cards, and some prospect leads, you'll still have expenses for your car, personal marketing, client gifts/entertainment, and more. 

The Competition Is Fierce

With over 1.18 million members in the National Association of Realtors, and record numbers entering the field each year, it's imperative that new agents understand their market and the competition. Learn everything you can about your market and where buyers and sellers come from. Then plan your marketing to capture them at the best value.​

Are Your Expectations Realistic?

Many times new brokers say, "I'm good with people, and I've got a huge number of friends and family. They'll give me enough business to carry me through my first year or so." But these new brokers generally overestimate the number of actual transactions all those friends lead to in real estate. Only a small fraction will buy or sell property in any given year. Also, they don't owe you the business, and you may find that they don't remember you when the time comes.

Prepare for the Lean Years

Not entering the business with adequate financial resources is a common reason for failure. It's not just having enough cash on hand to make it to the first commission. It's also making a plan, and a budget that is realistic in estimating expenses allows for the unforeseen and hopefully includes a budget for marketing. Don't rely only on your broker for prospects and business. Make a marketing plan and develop a budget to fund that plan through the first year. Debt may be a viable vehicle for a good plan.

Avoid Real Estate Agent Burnout

Many new agents take any prospect that comes along, hoping to close a deal, but that often leads to showing large numbers of homes with few deals.

You can avoid this by assessing your customers' motivation and buying schedule. Develop a list of tactful questions that can help you to do this. Better marketing for better prospects can go a long way toward avoiding burnout.