Reader Question: I am considering getting my real estate license. Is it better taking a course by a real estate company in hopes of getting hired by them or take a course online? Do the companies hire as many people as they can (to bring in more commission) or are they selective? How does that work? Patricia S.
Monty’s Answer: Hello Patricia, and thanks for your question. To obtain the license, take the course at the school that is convincing they are the best teachers. There was no mention of independent real estate schools that offer a classroom setting. Shop around and compare prices, classroom settings, instructors and other factors that may influence your decision. Are costs comparable? Do any of them allow a re-take at little or no cost if the exam defeats you? How many students pass the test on their first attempt? If they do not know how many pass, it may be a concern. Some people prefer to learn in a classroom environment. It will make no difference to your new broker which school succeeded in helping obtain the license.
There are several factors to consider when interviewing real estate companies. What are your expectations in a working environment? There are many different kinds of real estate companies with different operating philosophies. Some companies are selective and other companies not so much. There are companies that prefer experienced agents and others that prefer rookies. There are the different commission splits and different types of support systems. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. What technical and administrative support does the company provide agents? I do not mean an initial training program, but an ongoing support system to assist your activities? Do they have a high quality support staff? Is there high turnover in support staff and agents? Do they have a vision? Do they invest in technology that allows agents to work more efficiently? Do they furnish leads? How are the leads distributed? Are they involved in giving back to the community? Do they have products or services for customers that provide a competitive edge in the market place over the competition?
2. Do they offer financial support of some kind? Some companies may have a draw system while others are straight commission.
3. There are advantages and disadvantage for starting with a smaller company and having the owner mentor you, versus the large company with 30%-50% market share where you may, or may not find a mentor. Whether the company is large or small, the sales person can use either to their advantage in the market place. Ask the big guys what they do to compete with smaller companies, and then ask the smaller players how they win against the big guys.
4. Once licensed, you may want to consider the different ways to use it. The residential sales associate is obvious, but consider commercial, property management, appraisals, new homebuilder sales or cemetery lot sales, to name a few. When exploring your options, pay, working conditions and the customer requirements will change in these different environments.
5. Trust, but verify. Check out what was said in the interviews. Some real estate companies are revolving doors, but it is unlikely that information would be shared in an interview with them. One way that works well requires a trip to the public library. Check out the old newspapers for classified or display real estate ads from 2-3 years ago. Check the list of agents then and now to calculate the turnover. The trip will be insightful.
Talk with inspectors, appraisers and other services (like real estate schools) that interact with agents. They can offer insights as they work with many different companies. Most candidates have their own creative ways to check companies out, but these will help get you started. Take your time and talk with many people.
I hope you find value in this information, Patricia. Ask me if there are other questions.