Can I Make Good Money as a Real Estate Agent?

Here is the big truth about making money as a realtor – yes, it’s possible to make highly profitable as a realtor, but not every realtor does.

Both my wife and I are licensed real estate agents so I understand the allure that comes along with it. Walking around houses with people looking to drop six figures, and you get a piece of that? What’s not to love? But, as with all things real estate, it’s not as simple as it seems. So what’s the truth? Can you make good money as a real estate agent, or is it just too good to be true?

The answer to this question is somewhat complicated and depends on several factors specific to your region and experience. Generally speaking, if you have strong marketing and sales skills, good negotiating skills, and a network of other real estate agents and clients, yes, you can make a good living as a real estate agent.

However, like any other profession, there is risk involved, and if the market becomes volatile or regulatory pressures increase, it could be difficult to make a living. So let’s get into the life of a real estate agent, the things you need to know, and a few tips for ensuring your success. Ready? Let’s dive in. 

How Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid?

Real estate agents typically receive a commission, which is a percentage of the sale price. In some cases, the agent may also receive other fees, such as closing costs. The commission varies, but you’ll rarely see anything higher than 6% – 7% and is typically paid by the home seller. However, like everything else, this can be negotiated, and sometimes the buyer will end up cutting the check.

Commissions are split between the buyer and seller’s agents, so you can expect to get half, 3% – 3.5% of every sale unless there isn’t another agent. If that’s the case, you can expect to get the full commission.

There’s another way some agents get paid: referrals. When a client hires the agent as their real estate agent, the agent earns a commission on the sale. Typically 25% of the earned commission is paid back in referral fees.

How Much Money Do Real Estate Agents Make?

Here is the big truth about making money as an agent—yes, it’s possible to make this business highly profitable. However, if you check out the statistics, few agents earn very good money. The majority of them either earn modest sums or even nothing.

Real estate agents typically make anywhere from $40,000 to $200,000 per year. The amount of money an agent makes depends on various factors, including the size and location of the market they work in, the amount of work they do, and the number of properties they handle.

What Goes Into Making $200k a Year?

If you want to hit multiple six-figure income levels, you need to know how the numbers work for (or against) you. In short, the more houses you can sell, the higher commission you can make. This works for any market, though locations with higher selling prices obviously mean you’ll get to $200k sooner.

Zillow broke down the average number of homes a real estate agent can expect to sell every year:

What Should I Do to Become a Good Real Estate Agent?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to become a good real estate agent depends on your region and experience. However, some basics include working hard and networking, having a good marketing and sales strategy, and handling difficult negotiations. And, of course, always be honest and ethical in your dealings with clients and other agents.

A few tips for becoming a good real estate agent:

  1. Work hard – Look, there’s no way around it. If you want to make a successful career in this field, you’ll need to be willing to put in the hard work. Dedicate yourself to learning about your market, networking, and knowing all you can about successful selling, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful real estate career.

  2. Network – One of the best ways to become a successful real estate agent is to network with other agents and professionals. Get involved in your local chapter of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) or the American Society of Real Estate Lawyers (ASREL). These organizations can help you meet other agents and learn about the industry.

  3. Get licensed – Becoming a licensed real estate agent is essential and will often be a requirement for your market. Don’t think you can skimp on this; the fee and time are well worth the peace of mind they give to your clients.

  4. Learn to negotiate – Negotiating is essential in the real estate industry. If you can get a good deal for your clients, they’re going to be more likely to refer you to others. As always, be honest and ethical in your dealings with clients and other agents.

  5. Learn how to market –  Marketing is one of the most important aspects of being a successful real estate agent. You need to know how to find potential buyers and sellers and how to create a positive brand for yourself. Use effective marketing techniques such as social media, listings updates, and signage.

An Easier Way to Get Started: Become a Buyer’s Agent

The odds are that you will start your real estate business as a buyer’s agent instead of representing the seller. Most people start this way because it’s hard to find someone who will list a house with you until you’ve got more experience and testimonials. A buyer’s agent is a little bit like a tour guide for home buyers and takes more time than being a seller’s agent, but it’s a good experience that gets you in the game.  

You’ll spend a lot of time talking to buyers and recommending properties. You will invest effort into going from one place to another and discussing why it’s a smart deal for the purchaser. Once the house is sold, you’ll get the commission same as the seller’s agent. However, the critical difference is that you will invest much more time upfront. 

When that house is sold, start digging in and working on getting a house listed with you. Use your buyer’s testimonials and start networking in the area where your clients just moved to. Odds are you might find someone else who’s ready to sell, and you’re there, right place and right time. 

Final Thoughts

Becoming a real estate agent is like starting any other business: you start at the bottom and gain experience, then move your way up into more lucrative or less intense work. Start slowly, get licensed, and work hard on your networking, marketing, and selling skills to increase your chances of becoming successful. 

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