March 06, 2018

How to Become a Part-Time Real Estate Agent


If you have a passion for real estate, becoming a part-time real estate agent is not only a great way to live your dream, it is also a great way supplement your current income! Furthermore, it is a common practice for people who are currently making the switch to real estate from another field and are looking for part-time work during the transition period. Either way, the ins and outs of part-time real estate work are things you need to know if you plan to dip your toes into the real estate waters.

Getting Started

Becoming a real estate agent requires time and investment. Here are the requirements to get started.

Training Requirements

You must take required training courses to prepare for applying for your real estate license. You'll find both in-person and online training alternatives. These courses will cover everything you need to know to build a strong foundation in the industry.

Obtaining a State License

Each state in the U.S. has a real estate commission that awards licenses, allowing you to act as a real estate agent in that state. Fees will vary depending on the state where you're applying for a license. After you complete the required training, the process includes:

  1. Completing a real estate license application: You'll be required to pay fees for the application, as well as completing fingerprinting and a background check.

  2. Passing the state licensure exam: The training courses will ensure you are well-prepared to take the exam. This also requires paying an exam fee to the state.

  3. Obtaining the license: After you pass the state exam, the state will issue a license, and there is a license fee.

  4. Complete required continuing education: You'll need to take courses in order to earn continuing education credits to renew your license every couple of years. Continuing education rules vary by state.

Join a Brokerage

Once you have a license, you need to "hang the license" with a real estate broker. The broker oversees all of the agents in their office,  who in turn, get to operate under the name of the brokerage. Each brokerage has different rules for their agents. The commission you receive for selling a home will be shared with the brokerage, so you need to familiarize yourself with the brokerages in your area to choose one that is the best fit for you.

Join Your State and Local Real Estate Boards

Your state and local real estate boards provide a number of benefits. Among the most important is access to your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). You'll need to be a member to list homes for sale, and the MLS offers lots of information about the real estate market that will help you understand the market in your area. Fees for state and local real estate membership will vary by state.

You may also want to join the National Association of REALTORS®. With this membership, rather than calling yourself a real estate agent, you will earn the title REALTOR®, which is an advantage when you're attracting clients as it adds credibility and authority.

Tips for Becoming a Part-Time Agent

Starting a second career can be tricky, but there are things you can do to help navigate the transition.

Plan Your Cash Flow

As a part-time real estate agent, you won't be getting a steady paycheck. Your commissions will come in sporadically as you complete transactions. Therefore, you should be able to support yourself with your second job.

Find the Right Brokerage

Not all brokerages are open to becoming associated with part-time agents. The broker must allocate their resources to agents who are producing results, and you won't be a top producer working part-time. Look for a brokerage that will work with part-timers and that provides training and teams. Also, consider the commission split. As a part-time agent, you won't want to hang your license at a high-split brokerage.

You Need a Flexible Second Job

Your real estate schedule will be flexible, but there will undoubtedly be times when you'll need to handle small tasks or phone calls while you're at your second job. It helps if your second job offers you the flexibility to take five minutes for a phone call or to compose an email that is time-sensitive.

Carve Out Time Blocks for Real Estate

Scheduling and managing your time will be critical. You'll need uncontested time to spend with clients in face-to-face meetings, show homes, work with lenders, market your services, and complete paperwork. Make sure that you allot enough uninterrupted time to do these things well. The good news is that many of your clients will be working during the day and may appreciate meeting with you after standard working hours.

Find Ways to Cover Times You're Not Available

One of the biggest issues with being a part-time real estate agent is that there will be times when your assistance is needed but you can't be there. You'll need a plan for those times.

Some part-time agents make agreements with other agents to split the commission on a sale. The other agent can fill in for you at times when you can't be present.

Some agents find it more effective to join an existing team. Many new agents take this approach whether they're full or part-time. There's a lot to learn, and joining a team gives you the advantage of working closely with experienced agents. You'll also share in the team's leads and can arrange with teammates to cover for you when you're unavailable. Keep in mind that you will share commissions in this scenario as well.

Is Real Estate For You?

Being a part-time real estate agent is an excellent way to determine if real estate is for you. Whether you eventually decide to go full-time, or opt to remain as a part-time real estate agent, you'll learn a lot about real estate as a career. You'll also determine if you enjoy real estate without making the decision to leave the safety of a regular paycheck behind.