Going from Teacher to Real Estate Agent FAQ
After writing my blog about Why Teachers Make Great Real Estate Agents, I started to receive quite a few texts and emails from teachers desiring to make that transition. Those people have asked some great questions, that I thought would be good to share in a separate blog post in case others out there had similar questions. As always, you can feel free to reach to me if you have additional questions or need help getting started.
What are some of your tips for starting out in real estate?
For some people who are naturally the sales type, then it’s easier for them to jump into it full time versus someone like me who sales doesn’t necessarily come natural to me…customer service is more so what comes natural. I think that could generally be the case for most teachers since it is a service based career.
With that being said, going full time does work for a lot of agents, but from my perspective I wish I didn’t jump into real estate full time right away. I kind of just quit teaching because I didn’t want to sign on a contract for another full year, but I also didn’t have a set in stone plan. I kind of was giving myself the paid Summer to figure it out a little more. And although, it’s worked out for the most part, I think I put myself through a lot of unnecessary stress by doing that.
Why and how did you get started in your career of real estate?
Honestly, it was kind of random how I came across getting into real estate. My boyfriend and I were flying back from a trip to Mexico (right after I had just quit teaching). We were watching HGTV on the plane (which is pretty cliche considering most of real estate is not like HGTV shows!) He mentioned me possibly trying real estate since I could still have a flexible schedule and “be my own boss” in a way which is why I didn’t want a regular career.
I reached out to the Keller Williams Realtor who I bought my house with a few years prior. I asked her a bunch of questions. She explained the pros and cons, how it works, what she does on a regular basis, and how to get started. It didn’t take too much thought for me to go with Keller Williams.
Where do you recommend getting your license from?
I decided to take classes through a school called GAMLS (which is a listing service for Georgia) which I’m sure for other states, there is something similar. I prefer taking classes in person versus online as I feel I do better that way. My courses were full days on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday that same Summer I left teaching, so I could finish the courses within a month. If you do the shorter classes, then it takes a little longer. That option is probably better for someone who is still working full time as there are evening class options and it makes it less overwhelming. However, if you are off for Summer as a teacher, then the full classes are manageable.
How do you choose the right place to work for?
I know some other people like to “interview” the companies to get an idea on commission splits, fees, and so on. You can always do that with different companies or offices to see what is the best fit for your. As a new agent, I highly suggest picking a company that will provide you with useful training. Keller Williams is well known for their training, so that’s why I think they are great to help new agents get started. It’s important to pick a company that will align with your personality, values, and goals as an agent.
If you are interested in learning more about Keller Williams, I’d be happy to provide further insight so feel free to reach out!
How long do you think a teacher can continue to be an agent on the side?
That really depends on you as a person. You can likely handle a few deals while teaching full time and working as a part time agent. Time conflict issues could arise as time goes on and you gain more traction in the real estate world. So if you start to serve a lot of clients and work a various deals at a time, it may be harder to remain part time. That would potentially be the sign that it’s time to transition from a part time agent to a full time one.
How do you make sure you are obtain new clients throughout the year? What things do you do to ensure your success?
I think it’s good to also be around people who are successful in real estate. Listen to how they talk to clients, watch how they handle things, etc. Going to classes can also help you feel more knowledgeable which in the long run makes you feel confident, but honestly experience is what will make you feel way better.
What is your view on losing paid vacation time like Summer and holiday breaks?
You can still somewhat have that in real estate too since it can be flexible. The challenging thing can be that it’s not necessarily designated like it was for teaching with Summers, Winter break, etc. However, if you set the right expectations with your clients, then you can still have those allotted times. Once your business gets to the point that you don’t feel you can handle the volume of business at a high level, then you leverage by hiring an assistant. So that way, your business can still flourish even if you are in another country! Of course it takes time and a good amount of achievement to get to that level. You have to pay all those people, but that’s how you can still have that flexibility and freedom.
I personally love that I don’t have to ask anyone for a day off. If I need to go to a dentist or doctor appointment, take my car to the shop, or take a quick trip to visit family, I don’t need to request off or miss out on those things. I can also spend more quality time with my beloved pets who are essentially my children.
Another plus is you don’t have to wait for Summer. For example, I was able to go on a cruise at the end of September for 7 nights. I wouldn’t have been able to do that before while teaching except during those specific vacation periods for schools. So it gives you more options as to when you can travel throughout the year. Additionally, even when I was a teacher and had those scheduled breaks, I had meetings, had to plan lessons, grade work, etc. Unfortunately you can’t really leverage those tasks much!
Do the benefits of being an agent outweigh the risks of not having a steady income each month?
I don’t like to sugar coat things for people as I wouldn’t want them do the same for me. It was challenging at first (and still can be at times) to make that big change. There are a few things I would have done differently at the beginning, but I can’t go back in time. Occasionally there are times when I miss teaching because of the the good health benefits and stable paycheck. Then I think about what came along with that: behavior management, standardized testing, 8-10 hour days coming home exhausted, leaving my dogs locked up all day, planning lessons for hours, the anxiety I would feel as the school bells would ring to release students to class… I’d prefer to take a more challenging path if it means I can gain some more control in my life.
Any insight on free lead generation and what you do to stay proactive?
I have used one source for paid leads and I didn’t like it. It was with RedX. It was for “for sale by owners” (FSBOs) and expired listings. I noticed a lot of the numbers were disconnected or incorrect numbers, so I didn’t see value in it. I think the best type of business is through authentic relationships. Now this may not be what most other agents will say. Some agents are very focused on FSBO and expired listings, but that’s just not really for me.
I am big in the animal rescue and volunteer world. A lot of the people I meet and interact with on a daily basis are in that area of my life. So naturally, the majority of my clients have come from people I met through volunteering or in the rescue world. What I have started doing recently (which I wish I thought of earlier) is adding people on Facebook who have like 40+ mutual friends with me. Then once they accept my friend request I send them a message.
Since most of them value animal rescue, I connect with them over that since I also donate 10% of my commissions to animal rescues. Since I just started doing that, I haven’t had actual business from that yet, but I have had a lot of people say they appreciate my offer and will keep me in mind. Then there have been others who may be a “one day” lead based on what they have told me.
So it’s just making sure I stay top of mind with them and follow up. I also attend different animal rescue related events and can have conversations there. So find something you do on a regular basis and have conversations about real estate. I know some people go to their kid’s friend’s birthday parties and talk to all the parents there. Some people set up vendor booths a local festivals or events. Those tend to cost some money, but if you get a solid lead it generally pays for itself multiple times! Then if you’re like me and don’t like coming off as a super sales-y person, it comes more naturally.
How do you cancel out the noise of negative people and keep a positive attitude for yourself as an agent?
I totally know about those Debbie Downers! Sometimes people place their own doubts and insecurities about themselves upon others. I just try to acknowledge what they say so I’m not rude. Then I just let it go in one ear and out the other. Then make a mental note to not hang around those people too much!
Try to hang around more encouraging people. Those are the people who push you to focus on your skills and grow.
I’m wondering where to begin since I have a mortgage to pay and student loans/tuition. I am considering starting as a part time agent, but don’t want to teach anymore. Do you have any advice on that?
I also have student loans. I actually finished up my MBA last year which added even more student loans (about $93,000 total now…yikes!) So, I totally get wanting to ensure you take care of that. Plus keeping up with your monthly bills and responsibilities is important.
I personally believe that that if you are not the sales-y type person, it’s probably better to keep another job on the side until you get more comfortable in real estate. The thing I liked about teaching was the stability. I knew at the end of the month I would always get the same check. With real estate, you have to close on houses in order to make money and you don’t make the money until you are at the closing table in most cases. For me, I think that was one of my biggest mistakes. I just quit teaching because I didn’t want to make a commitment to another contract for a year. However, I also didn’t have a clear plan as to what I was going to do next, so it made it a little more challenging for me to start.
I hope you found those insights helpful in making the transition. I’d love to talk with anyone about the process or answer other questions. You can feel free to email me at: Loretta.Kartforosh@KW.com or call/text me at 770-561-8899. Visit my real estate site here!