I find the recently (republished) article “Three Reasons to Forgo your Real Estate License” upsetting. This is the kind of irresponsible, sensationalist journalism that is so frustrating. There’s just enough truth to the article to give it a little value, but only has the headline to grab your attention. The majority of it only plays to the reader’s emotion, offering no real substance. The reasons provided to not get a real estate license are horribly flawed.
The Job Problem
It is a job for many. It’s a side business for more. It’s considered a “hobby” for too many. Like many industries, the Pareto Principle applies (80/20 Rule). The majority of the deals are done by a fraction of the agents. Most professional real estate agents are REALTORS® and it is their job. They work far more hours than most people out there. They do it because they love it. They do it to help people. They do it because they want to control their career.
Real estate licensees choose who their broker is. If they’re “forced” to answer phones and they don’t want to, it’s their choice to stay or go to another brokerage. It’s their choice. If they don’t think they’re getting a fair deal, they can leave. Sure some brokers put penalties in their contracts to make leaving painful, but you should always read before you sign. There’s always another out there who wants another quality performer on their team.
Don’t compare real estate agents to car salesmen or copier salesmen. I know several of each and, while I know some good ones and some bad ones, the effort and business the good ones do far outweighs that of the bad ones. I have a mental list of both whom I never heard from again after the ink was dry. Then again, I wouldn’t hesitate to refer the ones I’ve worked with that provided a stellar service before and after the contracts were signed.
Yes, the author of the previously referenced article is right, there is a stigma appearing regarding real estate agents. But it is due to irresponsible articles like his and too many people wanting to cheat the system.
Laws & Regulations
Yes, we have them (most industries do, too). Some are archaic and we either deal with them or we work to get them updated. Believe it or not, there are areas around our country where the municipalities and state governments support growth. The folks who are passionate about correcting the archaic laws get involved with their respective government affairs teams or at least support the professional organizations who lobby for the needed changes.
One of the few things this article got right was the fact that licensees are held to a higher standard; we have ethical rules we are required to adhere to. In Texas, we are bound by the rules of the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). As REALTORS®, we are bound by the National Association of REALTORS® code of ethics. Those who specialize are typically bound by even more rules and codes—this is a good thing. For example, as a manager of single-family investments, we are members of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM)—that’s another code of ethics. We’re also members of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), that’s yet another code. We’re even members of the National Apartment Association (NAA)—another code. Why? Because we are serious real estate professionals.
Everything done right has a price. Cheat the system, and take shortcuts, you’re only cheating yourself. Others may still suffer for your ignorance.
No, real estate is not a cheap profession to enter. Anyone who tells you otherwise should be seeking used cars. There is a process to doing it right, and doing it quickly can cost more. Go to a fast-paced school, take the test, get your license. In Texas, that runs about $1,500 and takes 4-5 weeks, start to finish. If you want to join a board of REALTORS®, that’s another several hundred dollars a quarter in dues. This is not a profitable part-time job for many.
It can be lucrative, though. Do your job well and take exceptional care of your clients, the career will make itself.
There are bad apples out there. There are also a lot of good people who want to help others. Many of them specialize in specific areas: specific areas or neighborhoods, luxury homes, buyers- or sellers-only, commercial (several specializations in here), property management (several specializations in here, too), investors (even more specialties…).
Find a professional who specializes in what you’re looking for. If you want single-family investment property, don’t work with a general real estate agent. If you have a brain tumor, would you want your family doctor to operate on it?
If you’re serious about investments and want the best representation, get a license. It comes with the training and respect a serious investor deserves.