Pros and Cons of being a Real Estate Agent

Would you like a career with a stable and steady income, guaranteed days off and a five-day workweek? Then being a real estate agent is NOT the job for you. Real estate is an unpredictable industry where the stakes are high. You’re responsible for the biggest transaction of someone’s life, so there is a lot of pressure not to screw up. On the flip side, there’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone find their dream home, especially in a competitive housing market. If you’re thinking about becoming a real estate agent, consider the following:

You’re your own boss

Pro: You have control over your own hours and the freedom of time and movement. You’re not chained to a desk all day and there’s no time card to punch. It can feel very liberating. I tend to work from home, which gives me more time to spend with my family.

Con: You’re working when everyone else is off. Most of your customers have 9-to-5 jobs, so they’ll likely sign a contract or do a walkthrough in the evening. And don’t forget those weekend open house tours. Planning a Saturday brunch with your friend? Forget it. Your new bestie is your client, especially on the weekends.

You’re the expert

Pro: As a real estate agent you know the ins and outs of your community. You can recite neighborhood comps in your sleep. You know what areas have the highest-ranking schools. And you have more specific knowledge, like whether that newly listed bungalow is in a flood plain, which would require costlier insurance. Your clients can rely on you to be their trusted advisor because you’re the expert.

Con: You’re being trusted with someone’s life savings. The stakes are high and even a small error can cost your client thousands of dollars. For example, if you put an offer on a home and then miss a deadline for an inspection contingency, your client could be contractually obliged to buy the house or lose their earnest money if they decide to walk away.

You wear a lot of hats

Pro: As an agent, you’re asked to do a lot of things that may fall outside your purview. You’re an educator, a counselor, a babysitter, a financial advisor and a life coach. Real estate purchases and sales are often prompted by life changes, such as marriage or divorce. Buying or selling a home is an emotional experience, so it’s your job to counsel your clients and guide them in the right direction. The job requires a personality that is flexible and adaptable to the needs of the customer. As an agent, you gain life skills, such as multitasking and learning how to work with different personality types. And there’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone finally find the home they’ve always wanted.

Con: You put out a lot of fires. Problems come up at the last minute, and you have to think and act quickly. The day before a closing, my colleague took his customers for a final walkthrough on their new home only to find water gushing down the hardwood stairs. (Apparently a plumber had left the water running.) When last-minute issues come up, your clients may panic. But you can’t panic, too. You have to be the stable presence that allays their fears and solves problems. Real estate is a stressful business, so if you can’t solve problems — without having a meltdown of your own — then it’s probably not the right job for you.

Real estate is dynamic

Pro: When the market is booming, all is great in the world. Real estate feels like the best job ever. You may be so flush with cash that you’re finding $100 bills in old jacket pockets. You’re busy and not worried about where the next lead is coming from.

Con: The employment outlook, the stock market and the time of year all impact the housing market. During the slow season, the job starts to feel like a grind. Agents are all scrambling for the same clients and the competition is cutthroat. The job requires someone who can adapt quickly to a changing market.