Real estate business has become a money spinner in Nigeria in recent times. Because a lot of people have began to understand that shelter ranks top among human needs, many people are going into real estate. While in the years past, young man builds his house (hut) and leaves his parents with his wife, today people have seen a lot of business opportunities in real estate. This is the reason many now decide to make career in the real estate.
A career in real estate can be both rewarding and challenging because while some people earn six-figure salaries, others, just a few thousand per year. While it can be a great career; challenging, flexible and exciting, the profession should not be for everyone because there are certain levels of knowledge you need to have before you get started in real estate business.
As a real estate agent, you are essentially working for yourself. Although, there may be a few jobs available that pay an hourly rate, a typical real estate agent works strictly on commissions generated from the sale or rental of a residential or commercial property. In developed economies, people pay their bills of whatever size through incomes earned from marketing estates and properties. But, just as you would before starting any business, you should make sure you have the right character traits to work for yourself before becoming a real estate agent. At least the ambition to eke a living via real estate must be high. Then you have to organise yourself to know the branch of real estate you should delve into. You should know that what you earn is your pay; call it salary, honorarium, emolument, commission or what. This therefore calls for dedication to succeed where others have failed. There could be great challenges, obstacles and distractions but you must be focused knowing you are always on your own so you must be on your toes with ears sharply open. You must persevere because, initially, the road could be very rough and unless you continue, you may not make it there. Above all, you must develop manners of approach, friendly relations; you must mingle among peers and above peers including associations, clubs and societies that cut across class.
To make career in real estate, you must set your own schedule, but you will need to be organised and ambitious enough to actually work at your business every day. Organization skills are important because you will be dealing with contract deadlines, client appointments and follow-ups with other professionals in the field.
According to Rhonda Taylor, a Realtor with Blakemore Real Estate, in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the Western region of USA, “It is so great because you are your own boss. You get to dictate everything about your work day. You get to wake up when you want, work when you want, work with who you want. The down side to that is, you have to be really diligent and hold yourself accountable because it can be easy to not work when you do not have a boss looking over your shoulder. It’s basically owning your own business. You’re not going to make money if you don’t work.”
On all these, just like any business has its gestation period, so do you, as one who wants to make a career in real estate should bear in mind that most real estate agents don’t make huge commissions during their first year. It takes time to build a client base and get accustomed to how the business works. If you go in thinking that it is something you will try out for a few months, then give up if you are not earning lots of money, real estate might not be for you.
Before you get started as a real estate agent, you should ideally have 6 months to 1 year’s worth of living expenses in the bank, which provides a cushion while you build your business.
You will need to like working closely with people, because real estate sales is all about helping people buy or sell their homes, so you will be in frequent contact with clients every day. Rhonda while discussing working with people, said, “You need to be comfortable dealing with people. You need to have a customer service mindset and be ready to help them when they need you. Whether you are helping a young couple find their first home, or representing a family who is selling their home and relocating, you have to be confident, knowledgeable and above all, absolutely willing to go the extra mile for people.
“There are so many possibilities. Your income is not limited. It depends on how hard you want to work and what you want to put into it. How many jobs exist where you can earn a six-figure income without a university degree? That does not mean that you do not need an education, though. You will have to put in lots of time learning about the business, about the real estate market and about techniques like marketing and networking. It is an education… just not on a university campus!”
The vital things you must have to get started –
To get into real estate career is relatively inexpensive, compared to other businesses. Some of the things one would need to start include;
Real Estate License: Though requirements vary from state-to-state, all require licensing. Check with your local Board of Realtors or your state’s Department of Real Estate to find out what you need to do to obtain a license. Typically, you will be required to attend training classes. Then you will take a state exam. Once you’ve passed, you will pay a fee and receive a license. Most states also require continuing education and license renewal.
MLS Access: The MLS (Multiple Listing Service), is a comprehensive online tool that allows agents to find properties for buying clients, and list properties for selling clients. The MLS charges a monthly fee for access.
Board of Realtor Dues: If you choose to join the Board of Realtors, you will pay annual dues. Though it is not mandatory that you join, most real estate professionals do. Visit the National Association of Realtors site for more information on the benefits of becoming a Realtor®.
Computer: Ideally, a laptop that you can take with you to the office and to client meetings.
Smart Phone: You will be on the phone a lot as a real estate agent, taking calls from clients, getting updates from appraisers, home inspectors and loan officers, and setting appointments with potential new clients. Get a model with GPS so that you can easily find addresses when taking buyer clients to look at homes. You will also be able to stay in contact via email and text, and can look up properties in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).
Car: While you do not need a fancy car, it should be in reasonable working condition. Keep it clean and clutter-free; you’ll drive clients around occasionally.
Business Cards: While many people don’t use these any more, they are still a staple for real estate agents.
Signage: You will need signs to advertise homes for sale, open houses and other events. Design your own signs using your broker’s logo (in most states this is required). Check with your state’s Real Estate Division for other things to include on your sign that may be required by law.
Invest in a mix of signage: directional signs to help people find your listings, vinyl banners for larger-format advertising and car magnets to alert people that you are a real estate agent. Some signs can be designed to work for every property (such as directional signage). Others should be designed specifically for one listing (list the features, price and address of a home, for instance).
Clothing: Dressing professionally is important in the real estate business. Invest in some nice suits, quality shoes and accessories so that you’ll look nice and feel confident.
Stories by Maduka Nweke