Updated: Sep 5, 2020
Pros and Cons of a Real Estate Agent Career. Is it for you?
Many people assume that being successful as a real estate agent is easy.
Part of this misconception stems from the relatively short real estate salesperson course required to get a license compared with other professional fields where years of study are required.
On top of that, survivorship bias means that only those who do well in the industry are remembered and sensationalised while drop-outs are soon forgotten.
But there is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to succeeding in a real estate sales career.
Although there are countless perks that a real estate career can offer, there are always two sides to a coin, and this industry is no different.
Here are some of the pros and cons of a real estate agent career.
When You Manage Your Own Real Estate Business
You don’t have to report to anyone and you are in control of your own style of business.
This appeals to those who hate to be micro-managed and love to be in control of their own activities.
Independence is arguably one of the precious intangible benefits of the job.
Most of the time, being a real estate agent means a one-man-show.
You are in charge of sourcing for your own leads (Prospecting), maintaining relationships with your clients, marketing your business and managing all the nitty gritty administrative work such as invoicing, following up on renewals etc.
When everything is on your shoulders, it can get stressful.
Many new agents who join the industry fail to realise how much work and discipline it takes to become a successful real estate agent.
Experienced agents too get to a point where they have to learn about outsourcing and delegation of work in order to grow and maintain their business.
When Your Schedule is Flexible (Oh.. isn’t that nice?)
One of the main reasons why real estate agents join the industry is because they yearn for a more flexible schedule that gives them the freedom to prioritise their family or personal goals.
If you hate being tied down to a desk from nine to six and enjoy meeting and serving people, then a real estate career might be an ideal fit for you.
You get to control your day-to-day schedule and plan your time according to whatever is most important to you.
During holidays or busy periods, you can also call on your partner or team mates to assist you with viewings.
If you are not the morning kind of person, you can also choose to work a little later each day and it's alright as long as your tasks are productive and completed!
A real estate career rewards you on your effectiveness and not on your hours clocked. I have seen how even part-timers who dedicate 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, do much better than some full-time agents!
Having all the flexibility to plan your working hours does not mean you will have a lot of free time.
If you are a workaholic like me, you could end up finding yourself working alot more than you would as an employee. = )
But that is not necessarily a bad thing if you are passionate and derive joy from building your business!
On the other hand, be prepared as you will find yourself working at normally off-peak hours (after work) and on weekends.
Most real estate agents work outside of the typical office working hours because viewings and meetings take place during evenings or weekends in order to accommodate their clients’ schedules.
So you might find yourself arriving later than your kakis for gatherings or having to leave midway during a family lunch for a viewing.
Having the freedom to decide your own working hours also means you need to have strong self-discipline and not take time off from work every now and then, despite the temptations to just laze around and watch funny cat videos for the day.
When It Comes To Your Monthly Salary
When the market is booming and people are queuing up to buy properties, real estate feels like the most wonderful job ever.
Nope, there are no basic monthly salaries but real estate agents can make a monthly income that even surpasses the annual salary of their working peers.
There is a possibility that each commission you get from a successful deal surpasses the monthly income of an average desk bound job in Singapore.
This “No ceiling in income” factor is the reason why some real estate agents get to live in beautiful houses, drive luxurious continental cars and afford the material luxuries in life.
A real estate agent’s income is based on commission which means that you don’t have a fixed income or lifeline.
The higher risks of this job is the reason why we get to enjoy greater rewards too!
If you do not close any deals for the month, you could end up having no income despite all the hard work and costs you've put in.
Is this possible even if you are very hardworking and really hustling everyday?
While the chances are low, yes it is definitely possible.
I have experienced this and witnessed how some of my top agents who gross more than half a million income each year can still end up having dry spells once in awhile. So it's really just the flow of the job. Everyone experiences this from time to time.
But fret not too, as some months, you will end up having a “diarrhoea of deals” when every deal starts closing within a short frame of time.
You just need to ensure that dry months do not demoralise you so that you can keep yourself productive, positive and your activities, consistent.
To add on, when you first start off as an agent, you will have to spend on lead generation platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, sign up for property marketing portals such as EdgeProp.sg, 99.co, PropertyGuru.com.sg, launch project websites, buy domain names and much more.
Property deals take time to complete and it may take weeks for a rental deal commission to be paid out or even 6-9 months for a project or resale sale completion before you receive your 1st commission payment.
Hence, managing your cash flow like a business is also one of the skills you will need to have in order to succeed!
When You Are Deemed As The Expert
This is your opportunity to showcase your expertise - Using your knowledge and expertise to help your clients find their dream homes and investments.
You get to be part of your clients’ major chapters of their lives and you will receive great satisfaction from helping them find the perfect home, selling their property at a great price and/or fulfilling their investment objectives.
Through this process, you learn to be a valued adviser to the people around you and are able to see through the market hype, and employ many creative financing and property holding strategies to help them save on taxes, expenses and make the best investment decisions.
In all likelihood, you will eventually become an investor yourself and make savvier decisions that will help you prepare for financial freedom and retirement as an investor yourself.
The beauty about being a real estate agent is that there is no compulsory retirement age and our team has agents even in their 80s who continue to serve their family and friends as they enjoy being active and able to contribute to others even when building wealth is no longer their priority in life.
Selling and purchasing a property will most likely be the largest transaction in everyone’s life and can be somewhat stressful at times.
Your clients are literally putting their lives and lifetime savings in your hands and based on your advice and insights.
Hence, not only will your clients feel the need to be reassured often, you will be facing tremendous amounts of pressure as well.
Your ability to cope with stress is an important factor to your longevity in this business.
Being able to handle worried clients, allay their fears well and reassure them is a skill that will help you gain trust, appreciation and help you in getting referrals down the road too.
When You Have To Wear A Lot of Hats
Being a real estate agent means you may have to deliver services beyond that of marketing, selling and purchasing a property.
Apart from executing real estate tasks, you may have to be your clients’ adviser on mortgage and stamp duties related topics as well as they might trust you more than their banker or have no one to turn to for trustworthy advice.
Hence, your role as an agent expands to more than advising clients on timeline planning, processes of a transaction and into a more holistic end to end advice and solutions provider.
Since you are a valued and trusted adviser, you can sometimes be expected to solve your clients’ problems even if there are no financial benefits or have access to the right people who can solve it for them.
For example, clients may ask you to help take a look at a property that their relatives or children are purchasing as they trust your “non-vested interest” point of view.
You may not earn anything but it is a great gesture to help them out as it shows that you have a genuine interest in watching their backs.
To summarise, a real estate career can be a great choice but it may not be suitable for everybody.
If you are looking for a career with a stable income, fixed working hours, medical benefits and guaranteed days off, then being a real estate agent is definitely not the right job for you.
Evaluate these pointers and consider clearly whether you are able to take both the good with the bad.
Every job has its pros and cons and it is all about learning to love what you do and adopt a mindset of serving those whose path you will cross.
Our regular career open houses might also be a great platform for you to meet our veteran leaders and agents who can share much more with you.
Need a 30 min new agent career consultation? Schedule one right now.
If you would like to attend our Career Seminar or are looking for great real estate career mentorship to shorten your learning curve, drop me a message!
Stuart Chng, Senior Associate Executive Director of OrangeTee & Tie, is a renowned leader and personality in the real estate industry.
He adores music and can play a few instruments decently without upsetting his neighbours. When not doing so, he enjoys pillow fighting with his son and coming up with silly puns which barely amuses his wife.
Professionally, he is a licensed real estate agent, investor, team leader, speaker and columnist for several property newsletters and blogs and is often quoted in media interviews on 938FM, Channel 8, PropertyReport, PropertyGuru and other publications.
Throughout his career, he has helped many clients grow their wealth through selecting great property investments and managing their portfolios actively. Read his clients' reviews here.
P.P.S. Passed your RES Exams? Find out what steps to take next to quickly reach your goals!
P.P.P.S. Find out which real estate agency to join after passing your exams!