Some people thrive with careers that ensure they will have steady, weekly incomes. Others like to have a bit more freedom and are less concerned with a regular paycheck and more concerned with loving what they do. For the latter, a career in the real estate business might be the perfect option, because it offers so many benefits to those who don’t want to work at a traditional nine-to-five job. But, as with everything in life, there are pros and cons to consider before getting into this line of work.
If you have been considering a career in real estate, it's time to do your research and learn both the good and the bad sides of the business — here are a few of the top pros and cons.
Setting Your Own Hours
The good: If you have ever dreamed of being able to set your own hours and not be tied down to a desk all day long, real estate may just be the ideal career choice for you. It offers flexibility and freedom so you can do things your own way. This is appealing to many people, especially those who tend to be free spirits and don’t thrive in a typical nine-to-five setting. If you prefer working in the afternoon or evening, you will be free to do so.
The bad: Just because you have the freedom to set your own hours, it doesn’t mean that you are going to have a lot of spare time. In fact, you could end up working at some pretty strange hours and working more hours than you would if you had a traditional office job. You could end up showing houses later in the evening, but still have to get up early in the morning to take care of the business side of things, such as dealing with banks, lawyers, etc.
Being Looked to as an Expert
The good: This is your opportunity to really shine, and use the skills that you have to help others find their dream homes, commercial property, etc. You will have specific knowledge that your clients are going to greatly rely on. You will be able to tell them which properties are closest to schools, whether the properties they are interested in are in areas that are prone to flooding, and many other things that only the best real estate agents know.
The bad: Your clients will almost literally be putting their lives in your hands (or at least their life savings). If you make a mistake, you could end up costing them a lot of money. For instance, you might get them to put in an offer, but then you miss the inspection contingency deadline, so they have to buy the house because they are contractually obliged to do so. They will be taking some great risks based on your advice, and this can be pretty nerve-wracking for many agents who only want the best for their clients.
A Prosperous Career
The good: If you are good with numbers and enjoy the process of creating value through renovating properties, then working for real estate investment companies such as High Return Real Estate and Flipping Houses 101 would be a perfect fit. You will have an exciting career that will require many different skills including negotiating, design planning, and construction management. This type of position is generally more lucrative than one as a conventional real estate broker. There is much more work than acquiring and selling the property. Extensive research and due diligence are necessary along with the ability to see value in properties that have some type of limitation or problem holding them back from their highest and best use.
The bad: You aren’t going to become a top seller at a top real estate company for a long time. You really have to pay your dues, and prove that you have what it takes to be successful, which can take many years. Taking a course in real estate is just the beginning. You won’t know everything you need to know overnight, and you are going to have to put in a lot of hours at the bottom before you can start climbing to the top.
Wearing Multiple Hats
The good: As a realtor, you will be taking on a lot of jobs and wearing many different hats. This means that your work is never going to get boring. One minute, you might be working as a financial coach, the next, a babysitter or a life coach. You will basically be filling the needs of your clients in order to make buying a home easy for them, so that you can earn great commissions.
The bad: You will likely find yourself in many positions where you have to think on your feet. Sometimes, you might feel like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to take care of all of the things that your clients need. For instance, there may be last-minute repair issues that need to be taken care of before your clients can move into their new homes. There are a lot of issues that can arise in real estate, and many of them are completely unforeseen.
The good: When the real estate markets are booming, agents can earn a very comfortable income. If you are really good at what you do, you will have cash on hand, live in a nice home, drive the nicest cars, etc. The world will be at your finger tips because you will have the income to be able to do most of the things you have always dreamed of doing without having to worry about whether or not you can actually afford it.
The bad: When the real estate markets are down, there aren’t as many opportunities to make money. You might start to feel like you are working for nothing. This is why it is so important to save some of the money you make when the markets are good — to help supplement you during the lean times. Unfortunately, many people who get into real estate don’t plan for the days when the housing market is low, and then they don’t have anything to fall back on when they are not selling enough houses to make ends meet.
The real estate career path certainly isn't for everybody, so it's worth thinking long and hard about what you value most in a career and what you hope to ultimately get out of it. But now that you know some of the top pros and cons, you will hopefully be able to make an informed decision.
Jane Hurst is a content manager from San Francisco. She is a business writer and writing coach. Find Jane on Twitter.