Being a REALTOR® is expensive AF. Yep, I went there. We are all thinking it but I don’t know too many that will talk about it. Going in you know that you’ve gotta pay for your pre-licensing classes. You’ve got to pay for your actual license, your memberships to the board, application fees. Then, there are the post-licensing classes. Let’s just break this down…
- Pre-licensing classes. You may or may not have already taken them. Those can run you anywhere between $200 to over $1000 depending on where you decide to take them. I took mine online, a 90 hour Broker course (required in my state.) I loved how I could take the classes whenever I had time, it fit into my schedule quite nicely. It’s a lot of keeping yourself motivated, though. And ya know what? There’s generally no financial assistance for this one. It’s all on you.
- The TEST. $300+ I actually had to drive 3 hours to Indianapolis to take mine. If you don’t pass the first time, you have to pay to take it again. No discounts. So, study hard and pass the first time! If you don’t pass the first time, make a mental note of stuff that you didn’t feel confident on and study even more.
- FEES GALORE! Whoo hoo! You’ve passed! Now you’ve got to pay more money to become a realtor! Locally I have to pay a bi-monthly MLS fee to the board, I have to also pay to become a member of the local board (because you honestly cannot be an agent in the area without being a part of the board and nor would you want to be an agent and not part of the board). There’s the fee to your state association and of course, there’s the fee to NAR. Our local board requires membership to NAR. Some boards do not, but ours does. So, for easy math, look at $700+ per year for NAR/State/Local Associations.
- E-Key. How else are you going to access those wonderful keyboxes? Here it’s like $20 a month for keybox access. You’re looking at $240 a year. (Note: I pay the $20 a month).
- Brokerage Fees. You may have to pay a brokerage or office fee. This varies, but estimate maybe $100 a month. Sometimes you can have this taken out of your commission checks, but be careful because you can rack up the fees and then when you get your commission check you’re like “WTF?! Where’d my money go?”
- Advertising Costs. Most of us are independent contractors and there is only so much our brokerages are going to help with. It’s up to us starting out to get our name out there. There is a term that you will learn very quickly – SOI. This means Sphere of Influence. I’ll talk about marketing to your SOI without driving them nuts in a later blog. Long story short – you’re going to want to market yourself and that means, generally starting out, buying leads. You’re going to go onto Realtor.com, Zillow.com, etc. and sign up for one of those fancy packages that give you zipcodes for marketing and then when people do a search for a home, your picture pops up and you get to fight over the lead with other realtors. That’s another blog post. Estimate $1000+ per year.
What have we learned? This shit is expensive!! There are going to be times when you’re like “What the fuck am I paying for?!” You absolutely WILL feel like giving up. There are some of you who have day jobs and you’re like “I have to have the day job to pay for the whole real estate thing.” There are people that can actually balance that.
But if you’re a newbie, sometimes you can’t. I know a lot of newbies that can’t answer the phone and talk with clients because they’re at their day job. And you can miss out on a lot of clients that way.
Me? I was lucky. I was doing the stay at home mom thing, my youngest was in pre-school for half the day when I started and the minute my oldest (who was 15 at the time) got home, I was out the door and showing houses. I was always able to answer the
phone, but that first year was super difficult.
Being completely honest – I only made $8000 dollars my first year. When we did our taxes that first year, my account said that I lost money on the whole first year and she said that if I continued doing that horribly that I would have to call it a hobby and not a career. She was not necessarily supportive. Thankfully, my hubby was supportive as was the rest of my family. I am now happy to report that I’m a full-time REALTOR® and support my family of 5. You’ll have to come back and read that story when I post it.
If you want a more of an idea of costs, Real Estate Express, an online real estate education site, has an awesome download that goes more in depth. They also offer continuing education courses (because you’ll have to take those too!).
If you want to ask me a direct question about my first year, feel free to hit contact and send me a message!