By Sue Styles

Being a real estate agent is soooo glamorous! Right?

Look at Barbara Corcoran on ABC’s Shark Tank. Or Fredrik Eklund in his million-dollar suit heading to his next multi-million dollar listing.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Believe me.

Every month people wanting to get into the real estate business call me asking for advice. Before giving any advice though, my first instinct is to say, “Are you sure?” Is it possible they are looking for TV glamour and stardom, rather than a business?

My second instinct is to share the truths nobody shares with new real estate agents. Here is the cold, hard truth about becoming a real estate agent – and it’s not for the faint of heart. Of course it’s not easy – nothing worth doing is easy – but you can enjoy a successful career as a Realtor if you come into the job with these five truths in mind:

1. Are you telling me 90 per cent of my time will be spent chasing leads? 

Welcome to your new career. You’re going to be working 24/7 to find your next buyer or seller. This means following up on every lead, staying in touch with them (without irritating them) and making sure you’re top of mind.

2. Wait, I have to be a social media expert?

Yes, you do. Or find someone who is…and there are lots of them out there ready and waiting to help you build your business. But you can’t avoid the reality: in real estate, you have to be “out there” on every social media platform possible. That means staying top-of-mind for that next potential client thinking of buying or selling a home.

If marketing wasn’t part of your post-grad education, it’s time to get started. Take courses, read books, get a coach. Now is the time to invest in your future. It’s an investment that will pay rewards!

3. You’re saying I have to be on call 24/7?

Maybe you thought as an entrepreneur real estate agent you could make your own “flexible” schedule. Think again.

If you want to build your business you need to respond to clients on their timetable, not yours. They’re thinking about buying or selling their next home when they get home from their workday…and good agents will be at the other end of the phone when they decide to take or make an offer. You’re part of one of the most important, most expensive decisions people will make in their lives. Be there for them and they’ll be grateful…and recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

4. But all I want to do is sell, sell, sell.

Selling and closing deals is only a small part of your job.

You will love handing over the keys to a new owner. But that’s a small part of your day. You’ll be spending most of your time doing administrative tasks: filling in forms, paying professional dues (better plan for that), navigating the technology required to run your real estate business, keeping up on zoning and new laws…you get the picture. Handing over the keys is rewarding, no doubt, but it’s the last thing you do after hours and hours…and hours of hard work.

5. Can I build my business and sell it?

The reality is you’re not (necessarily) going to retire by selling your book of business. There are two good reasons for this, but we can fix it before you begin.

Let’s start with choosing the right CRM (client relationship management) system – this is where you collect and manage your connections, leads, sales and suppliers. It’s also how you stay top of mind with your marketing. A properly built CRM is worth money to a buyer. The problem is that most agents never spend the attention to create a well-oiled machine when it comes to their CRM.

Do you have a successor in mind? You’ve built your real estate business on the merits of your personality and your relationships with people wanting to buy or sell a home. When you pass the torch will people still feel the loyalty they had towards you? Pick your successor carefully.

You’re going to spend 20 or 30 years building your real estate business and everyone has their own unique style to bring the table. Make sure you’re setting yours up right and, at the same time, think long-term.

I hope these tips help you succeed…they are things agents have learned the hard way and I’d love to see you stand on their shoulders by learning from their mistakes and reach higher in your career.

Did I skip a truth? I’d like to hear it…

Sue Styles has nearly two decades of experience coaching real estate agents and is the CEO of The Successful Solopreneurs School of Business. She guides real estate agents to maximize their potential and reach unwavering results by revealing their possibilities, challenging the status quo and setting up their systems for success. Author of three books and professional speaker. Reach out for business coaching and resources! Send her an email.


  1. You are absolutely right Sue. I would have stressed a little more the huge financial costs associated with being a Realtor. I also have young people coming to me and many older people saying they want to enter the profession to make big money. Many older people tell me they are going to take early retirement and become a Realtor so they can occasionally sell a house or cottage and make big money to supplement their pension income. I explain the large monthly costs, desk fees, board fees, advertising, licesing fees, insurance, and on & on, that they will pay out. If they sell a property occassionally, they will find their pension being eaten up by their expenses. I explain that if they are doing this just to keep busy and have something to do that may be fine if they can afford it, but if they actually want to make money they had better be prepared to work full time and all hours, evenings, weekends, when their friends and families are all relaxing from their 9-5, 5 days a week job.

    • • Realtor Costs : Your Costs

      Many agents and even some BOR offices over the years, all over the world (some even translated into their native language real estate business newsletters), have posted links to my copyright protected agent/consumer-friendly educational articles.

      Although many things have changed over the years in the real estate industry, equally many things have remained the same.

      Agents need to consider themselves as first being “business-people.” They need to understand how to use the manufacturing term COGS and how to turn that system into a real estate user-friendly system, along with acquisition and maintenance costs. If your performance shows a negative ROI, then why would you continue investing in your negative performance.

      Find something you love to do that is a money-maker unless you think real estate should be a non-profit industry. If you perform well the money will automatically follow you and some days you might wish you were twins or could produce a clone. Speaking of clones, that term definition is not synonymous with team.

      Carolyne L 🍁

  2. It is time real estate agents start being more professional and do not make themselves available 24/7. It is true that clients almost demand this, especially with people being so easily available via cell phones. It is however not a realistic demand on anyone’s life, and writing that this is how it is here, is setting the industry up for continuous burn outs. Real Estate agents are knowledgeable professionals who need to be valued for the expertise they bring to the table. Respect like that sure needs to be earned, and sometimes going out of your way to make something happen is necessary. Setting reasonable limits on availability is something the industry needs to teach new agents however, so that the industry continues to attract smart as well as ambitious people.

    • If you can take off half a day to get a tooth fixed you can get your clients to do the same . I seldom show properties past 6:00 PM and seldom show before 11:00 AM . It works for me if you ask !

  3. Spot on Sue. I tell people considering this great industry as a career basically what you do. They need to accept the right-between-the-eyes” reality to get over the feeling that any career is comes to you when in fact they must go to it.
    1. They will run out of family and friends that might help them in the beginning and they will need to deal with strangers.
    2. Some of those strangers will become their greatest supporters and advocates
    3. They will face rejection from family and friends that don’t want to do business with you because everybody has a relative, friend, neighbor or co-worker who knows somebody in real estate
    4. They will count hours as vacation not days
    5. If they put self doubt, ego and personal “needs” on the back burner they will rock!

Leave a Reply