Perception vs. Reality
With the turnaround in the San Carlos market you are going to hear more and more about different people you know who are thinking of getting their real estate license. Perhaps the thought has even crossed your mind. It did for me back in 2004. While it was, without question, the single best career move I have ever made, it’s not for everyone. The goal of this post is to give you a realistic picture of what to expect in a career in real estate.
First, let me say that I feel very fortunate to do what I love in a town that obviously means a lot to me. One of the aspects that I appreciate most is that many of my clients who move to or within San Carlos end up being friends well after the transaction is complete. Real estate can be a rewarding career, but it is also not exactly “as advertised” to the general public. Consider the “perception vs. reality” items below as you consider a career in real estate:
Perception: Getting a real estate license is not difficult.
Reality: I would agree. While you need to complete the state required courses and pass a 150-question multiple choice test, the barrier to entry isn’t exactly tough. I have had to study for two licenses in my life, (1) my law license; and (2) my real estate license. I can tell you without hesitation that the barrier presented by the California State Bar is exactly that, an exclusionary barrier with passage rates falling around 50% for law school grads.
Perception: Many new realtors feel that by the end of their second year, they should be completing in the neighborhood of 8 to 10 transactions a year.
Reality: Here are the most recent statistics from the San Mateo County Association of Realtors: 0-50% of all realtors in SM County did not complete a single transaction in the last 12 months; the next 25% completed 1-3 transactions. Stated another way, 75% of all realtors in San Mateo County have closed only 0-3 transactions in the last 12 months.
Perception: Realtors are self-employed, so they can make their own schedule.
Reality: This one couldn’t be further from the truth. I do not make my own schedule, I fit into openings of the schedules of my clients. You are basically on call 24/7. Unfortunately, the easiest time for many clients to meet is either after normal working hours or on the weekends.
Perception: Many realtors feel that the field as a whole is easier to break into than other career fields.
Reality: You may get a few different answers from established realtors on this one, but this is what I can tell you from my own experience: I practiced at very well respected law firm in Palo Alto with over 800 attorneys. The corporate ladder climbing and jockeying for different cases and promotions was intense. I am here to tell you that the cutthroat nature of our local real estate markets is worse. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it certainly took me by surprise during my first year in the business.
Perception: Being in real estate means easy money.
Reality: This one still makes me laugh a little each time I hear it. I can assure you that “easy money” does not exist in real estate. So much effort is focused on what realtors supposedly get for one transaction. What is not read into that singular view is the work involved, the amount of the realtor’s own money that went into the transaction, the split the realtor has to pay with their brokerage and all other costs and fees of being in business for yourself. At the end of the day, each realtor is a small business under the umbrella of a larger brokerage. Additionally, for each transaction that goes through there are others where you work with the buyer or seller for many months or even a year and they suddenly decide not to buy or sell.
Real Estate In San Carlos can be a very rewarding career. However, as with most big decisions, it is always a good idea to have all of the facts before moving forward. If you are considering a career in real estate, I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.
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