I hear from a lot of folks that are either considering going to real estate school or are already taking classes and have started looking for a brokerage. They have decided that their next venture in life is to be a New Orleans REALTOR®.
There’s a whole speech I generally give, but I’ve done it so many times that I think it’s the right time to put it all down on virtual paper.
Why do you want to be a New Orleans REALTOR?
If your only answers are “I love houses” and/or “I love people” we need to talk. Seriously. Being a REALTOR is a profession. It’s being a business owner. Houses may be the product we sell, but we aren’t actually salespeople. We are advisors, educators, therapists, and cat/dog wranglers. Ask an experienced agent why they continue to be a REALTOR and you’ll get a wide variety of answers, but none of them will be that they love houses and people.
Things to think about before you decide to be a New Orleans REALTOR
Have you ever owned your own business before?
Make no mistake, this is not a job, it’s a business. And you are the owner. All of the concerns that any business owner would face will be waiting for you. Marketing, advertising, client care and retention. It’s all on you, and it ain’t easy. As a matter of fact, 87% of REALTORS leave the business in less than 5 years. If you don’t plan to be a statistic, keep reading.
Do you know what the start-up costs are?
- Real estate school in Louisiana is an average of $300
- Louisiana licensing fees are $45
- E&O Insurance starts at $136
- Joining the REALTOR associations (national, state, and local) is approximately $500
- Joining the MLS is $320 plus a $150 initiation fee
Do you know how agents get paid?
Surprisingly enough, many people considering real estate as a career don’t understand how agents get paid. The bottom line is you don’t make any money until a deal is closed. For sales, you’ll generally be paid within 2-5 days after turning in your closing check and paperwork. For rentals, you’ll generally be paid within 2-3 weeks of the tenant paying their first full month’s rent. All commissions are paid to the broker, who then pays you after taking their cut of your commission.
Even if you write an accepted contract your first day in business, it will likely be anywhere from 30-60 days before you close a deal and get paid.
Do you have money saved to cover your expenses until your first closing?
In addition to your start-up costs, there are plenty of ways that real estate costs you money. Monthly fees for lockbox access. Money spent on marketing and advertising. Gas in your car for driving to and from the office and showings. Depending on what brokerage you join, there may also be the cost of office space, copies, business cards, signs, posts, and riders (those little signs with agent contact information on them).
Having enough savings to cover your monthly expenses until you’re up and running is mandatory unless you’ve got another source of income.
Are you detail-oriented?
The ability to write an iron-clad contract that protects your client, addressing inspection and repair issues with specificity, doing deep research into property values…these are some of the detail-oriented tasks that make up a big part of a successful agent’s business. Being loosey-goosey with someone’s largest purchase ever is just not allowed.
How are your communication skills?
You’ll spend a lot of time communicating with people over the phone, via text or email, and through your marketing and advertising. Spelling and grammar count just as much as they did back in grade school when it comes to making a good impression on potential clients and communicating to the other agent that you’re a professional.
As a bonus, we’re experts in having difficult conversations and you need to be too. Whether it’s gently letting a potential seller know that their house smells like dog or informing a buyer that their offer was rejected, the ability to clearly communicate issues to your clients is imperative.
How’s your sphere of influence?
Or, more to the point, how many people do you know that would recommend you as a REALTOR to their friends and family? This is a tough industry to get started in if you don’t have a circle of people willing to not just cheer for you but actually refer business to you.
Do you have any marketing experience or design skills?
We provide lots of marketing templates to our agents, but most agents are out there recreating the wheel every time they need to post on their social platforms, create a listing flyer, or even just produce an open house sign-in sheet. Are you comfortable creating your own marketing or do you still have Comic Sans as your default font?
Are you proficient in using social media?
Let’s be real. Whether you love or hate social media, it’s the preferred medium of communication for just about everyone. Being proficient in using multiple social platforms is a necessity, although every agent has their favorite that works best for them. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn…whatever floats your boat, but you better be good at it.
How are your time management skills?
I hate the term multi-tasking, but agents do need to have the ability to deal with a jam packed schedule and still leave time to grab a bite to eat and to return calls, texts, and emails. Many of them time block specific hours in their day so nothing falls through the cracks. We live and die by our calendars and if you’re a fly by the seat of your pants kinda person, this might not work for you.
Are you prepared to work evenings, weekends, and holidays?
Although people come into real estate with the idea that our schedules are flexible (and they are), they don’t realize that we are at the mercy of our client’s schedules as well. If they work all day and can only see homes in the evening, we make it work. If they are out of town and need someone to do a Facetime walk-through of a new listing, we make it work. If they are off from work because it’s Columbus Day, Labor Day, or any other minor holiday, you can count on your buyers asking for home tours.
Do you think it’s the broker’s job to provide leads to you?
This one gets down to the brass tacks of which brokerage will be the right one for you. You either need to know how to generate business or rely on your broker to generate it for you. Leads are not free, so whether your broker pays for them and then charges you a referral fee or you decide to purchase them yourself, be aware that at the end of the day, it’s going to cost you in some form or fashion.
None of this is meant to scare you away from choosing to be a New Orleans REALTOR.
In fact, the best agents are the ones who are informed up front and come into the business with realistic expectations of how things will work. If you’ve made it all the way through this and haven’t run away screaming, give me a call or shoot me a text. Coffee is on me.