Jobs and real estate licenses

It is during times of high unemployment that people decide to start businesses or become real estate agents. In the last couple


of weeks, I have been getting inquiries from people who want to get a real estate license. Normally I get those inquiries in January.

The articles I have written about how to get licensed in Minnesota are among the most popular articles on this site.

There isn’t now nor has there ever been a shortage of real estate agents in the Twin Cities. The failure rate for agents during the first two years is high.

Real estate agents have a lot of expenses and it takes a while to start making money. Competition is fierce and there are several qualified agents for each person who wants to buy or sell real estate.

Often when agents quit it is because they can not pay their personal bills and business bills on little or no income as they startup.

Most new licensees get some business from friends and family. The income range for a real estate agent is large. Many make less than $30,000 a year and some make more than $200,000 a year.

I got my real estate license in early 2002 after having been laid off during a recession.  I got my real estate brokers license in 2007 just in case.

Getting a license isn’t hard. A person has to be 18 years old and has to take 90 hours of classroom or online training. There are three 30 hour courses called “pre-licensing” courses.

The applicant has to take a test, pass a background check, and find a broker to hold the license. Real estate licensees are regulated at the state level. Find more information on the department of commerce web site.

Most real estate agents are 1099 independent contractors who get paid on a 100% commission basis after the home sale closes.

People with real estate licenses have to work under a broker. Real estate companies have at least one licensed broker who is the “broker of record” and that broker is responsible for all of the agents and their sales. Most brokers will take on any licensee who can fog a mirror.

Brokers also get to keep part of each commission before paying the agent.

It takes additional hours of training and another test to get a brokers license. To be eligible the applicant has to have had a salesperson’s license for three years. See the Minnesota licensing guide

I think that is why we usually don’t ever find out who the responsible broker is in each company and there isn’t any way to look it up. I digress.

Once licensed a person can become a REALTOR by joining the National Association of Realtors.

It takes more than a license to be a successful real estate agent. Agents usually work with little or no supervision. Being self-employed means paying for health insurance and paying income taxes several times a year. Taxes are not withheld from commission checks.

Some budgeting and money management skills are required. Those for sale signs cost money and so do the lockboxes and we pay to use the MLS.

It is necessary to have a laptop computer and tablets are very useful. Highspeed internet access at home is a must. A reliable car is essential and your car insurance may go up.

There are business expenses every month even if there are no sales. The real estate broker will keep a percentage of all commissions. At some of the larger companies that percentage can be more than 50%.

Right now home sales are unusually low because there are not as many people putting their homes on the market because of the pandemic. That may change yet this year and maybe it will all balance out. If not this year 2021 should be a good year.

The real estate market will do well until it is affected by the high unemployment rate which will cause people to buy less stuff and will ultimately affect those who are working from home with secure jobs dreaming of a larger house.

If you would like to be a real estate agent you need to understand that competition is fierce and the hardest part of the job for new agents is finding a steady stream of clients.

It seems as though anytime is a good time to become a real estate salesperson. I know people who started during the great recession and housing market crash who did very well while experienced agents dropped out.

Related articles:

How many real estate agents in Minnesota

What is a real estate broker

Realtor Demographics

Realtor isn’t a job title


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