Start as a Real Estate Assistant to Begin Your Agent Career

A real estate assistant placing sold sign on a home for sale sign.
David Sacks / Getty Images

To enter the real estate business, the fastest way can be to work as an unlicensed assistant to a successful real estate agent or broker. Benefits are normal hours and a salary or hourly wage.

The duties performed by such an assistant do not require a license. Instead, the requirements are general office type skills, such as good computer skills, graphics design experience, people skills, and some organizational abilities. Keep in mind the limitations on job duties as stipulated by state regulations.

An Assistant With a License Can Do More

If you've obtained your real estate license, but would prefer to ease into the business, a licensed real estate assistant gets a better wage due to the expanded duties he or she is allowed to perform. The agent or broker can be relieved of more tasks this way, and also does not have to be present at open houses. You can handle many more questions from clients and prospects.

The Personal Factors

A large percentage of new agents fail and get out of the business in their first or second year. Why? There isn't any single reason, but the biggest reason is not making enough money. However, that's not just bad luck. Consider the following factors:

  • Not enough thought has been put into the transition, and there is a loss of old income at the same time.
  • No budget is developed and followed.
  • The new agent doesn't market themselves but instead, rely on broker marketing and floor duty.
  • Expenses are higher than anticipated.
  • They didn't do an income analysis and realistic plan for income generation.
  • They didn't realize that half or more of the prospective buyers would not be ready to buy or they would lose them to other agents.
  • They anticipated much more referral business than they actually got from family and friends.

So, these agents tried and failed, and they were out of business. The money, training and time spent to get their licenses are usually wasted, as they never try again.

If you have any doubt about your staying power should things not go exactly as planned, consider taking a job as a licensed assistant for a while.

Learn While You Earn

The reality about the real estate business is that much of what you learned prior to taking the license exam is good to know, but it's not going to be very helpful in the daily business practice. In fact, most of the contract stuff, transaction management, inspections, and other details are never mentioned in license exam courses.

Another reason that some new agents don't last long is that they make some big mistakes in their first few deals. Even if they aren't the type of errors that would result in some type of censure or license suspension, they can often involve very upset customers/clients. It's shattering to be new and basking in the glow of your first deal only to find that you made an error that cost your customers money.

The new agents in their first few transactions will run into dozens or many more questions, or situations where they don't know what to do. They will risk practicing law without a license by writing contingencies or other clauses into contracts. They mean well, but the experience isn't there yet. If blowing it and harming a customer or upsetting them is going to be a big problem for you, consider the idea of starting off as an assistant.

In performing the duties of a licensed assistant, you'll get to read over contracts, addenda, amendments, inspection reports and more. You'll learn what you need to know when you decide it's time to take the plunge.