Six-figure incomes don’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean they are impossible to achieve. One of the most lucrative opportunities is to become a real estate agent -- if you are willing to jump through the right hoops. The top challenges you will find as you launch your career include finding the right market to sell in, establishing an educational relationship that’s worthwhile, and adapting to the ever-prevalent digital landscape.

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Photo by Tierra Mallorca / Unsplash

Understand the Requirements

To launch your career as a real estate agent, you must fulfill the necessary requirements. First, you should note that every state has a different set of requirements and restrictions, meaning you may potentially want to get licensed in more than one state. The challenge in this regard is choosing a state that has potential.

Emerging Markets of 2020

Annually, Urban Land produces an Emerging Trends report, which outlines the upcoming markets in real estate. For 2020, Urban Land has cited Austin, Texas as the top U.S. real estate market. It was followed by:

  • Raleigh/Durham metro area of North Carolina
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Seattle, Washington

It would be most beneficial to pursue a real estate license to become a real estate agent in one of these emerging markets, although competition may be high.

Getting the Job

After you choose where you want to get your license, then you must complete the minimum required hours of education for the state. Depending on the state, the requirement can be as few as 40 hours or as many as 300. Once you complete your minimum instruction hours, you will be eligible to take and, hopefully, pass your license exam. Your state will determine what the minimum score is to pass, and your license will cover working with clients, negotiating, closing a deal and following real estate law.

You must have your real estate license to be able to work for a licensed broker. Contrary to what you may have heard, you will not be able to start your own real estate agency from the moment you procure your license. Rather, you will need to become a real estate agent and work under an established firm to gain experience and build clientele.

The good news is The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of real estate sales agents and brokers will grow 7 percent between 2018 and 2028, faster than the average for all occupations during this time.

Earning Your Maximum Salary

Most brokerage agencies will have you work off commission, meaning your beginning salary won’t be huge. That’s not to say that there isn’t money to be made.

Per the U.S. News Money, real estate agents rank #4 in Best Sales and Marketing Jobs, #16 in Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree, and #24 in Best Jobs Without a College Degree. Real estate agents made a median salary of $45,990 in 2017. The best-paid 25 percent made $71,950 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $31,180.

If you are wanting to reach the maximum end of the salary range within your first years of becoming a real estate agent, then you will want to look for continuing education opportunities to expand your knowledge and, therefore, your client-base.

Use a Mentor to Get Through the Challenges

No matter if you are brand new to the industry or a professional with several years under your belt, engaging with a mentor relationship can have several benefits for your career as an agent. However, finding a great mentor isn’t as easy as you may think. There are certain aspects your mentor needs to be aware of and able to work with for them to be a benefit to your career.

Your Mentor Can Help Propel Your Goals

When looking to invest in a mentor relationship, you want to be sure they understand the various paths you can take to achieve your goals. A mentor that understands finances and the investment side of real estate can be a huge benefit to you as you become a real estate agent and grow your business. It’s also a plus to choose a mentor who understands real estate tax laws and who has a mutual interest in the neighborhoods you pursue.

Patience and having time to spend with you are two traits you should also look for in a mentor. It will do you no good to pair up with a mentor who has zero interest in taking time to educate you. You want to find a mentor who has a deep-rooted passion for helping other agents excel.

That said, it is equally critical to choose a mentor who has passions beyond your personal interests. If you align yourself with a mentor who thinks, acts, and invests the same way you do, then you won’t expand your knowledge beyond what you already know. Finding a mentor whose passions align with yours but whose efforts in the industry expand into new verticals you have never heard of or tried before will enable you to reach your maximum potential.

In this comprehensive article of mentor characteristics, Benilyn Formoso points out that “good mentors will encourage action while keeping a steady hand and unemotionally helping their students proceed with caution”.

Invest in Quality Technology to Propel Your Efforts

Possibly the best way to boost your career as a real estate agent - without going over budget - is to utilize social media networking opportunities. Many agents make the mistake of investing all their revenue into paid advertising opportunities on sites like Zillow, hoping they will get a lead. This gets expensive quickly and can be somewhat unnecessary when there are so many free tools at your disposal to raise awareness of your brand.

Top real estate agents have made an increasing effort to invest in quality technology, including social media networks, to put their names in front of the right prospects. In fact, many agents have created an entire career through their online presence. Yard signs certainly have their benefits on a local level, but social media allows for an interactive, global reach.

Urban Land noted in their Emerging Trends 2020 report, “Real estate is manifestly advancing along a steep technological curve. Our discussions with industry professionals seem to indicate that—at one and the same time—technological change is underestimated and yet over-hyped. The property sector is considered a relatively slow adopter of emerging technologies, and nevertheless prone to consider the threshold to the 'brave new world' no more than a short step away.”

Real estate may have been an industry that took baby steps toward technological advancement and is therefore behind the curve, but that only leaves ample room for an online opportunity for real estate agents to make their careers bigger and better.

Save Time, Make Money

While many agents recognize the influence and reach they can have through social media, they often argue that they don’t have time to keep up with channel maintenance. This is a valid claim, as social media success is primarily based on being active on the social channels of your choice, consistently engaging with your network.

Rather than risking the many leads that social media can bring forth, agents have begun to rely on third-party social media marketing agencies to establish and grow their social media channels. This enables you to sell more without the added effort of managing your brand online.

When it comes to choosing whether to spend hundreds, if not thousands, on paid ads across various housing websites with no guarantee of procuring any leads, you are better off spending the money on a group of high-level digital media professionals. Most social media growth agencies provide services that not only manage your social media but the entirety of your online presence, including your website or portfolio.

Where Does True Success Originate?

As you begin to launch your career as a real estate agent, it is crucial to remember that true success originates from your personal drive, passion, and patience. Success will not happen overnight. You may be able to guarantee better success through education, mentorship, and an established online presence -- but it will take time.

That’s why pairing your first years as you become a real estate agent with (a) a great brokerage agency and (b) a phenomenal digital growth agency are not only beneficial but necessary to reach the higher end of the salary data pool.