But as my fingers glide across the keyboard behind my desk at National Mortgage News, you may be able to guess that things didn't pan out as planned. Perhaps my biggest downfall was being unprepared to take on the real estate career ahead of me. There are a number of "surprises" I wish I had foreseen before diving in. Today, I realize working as an agent equates more with being a business owner than it does working as a freelancer at your own pace.
Mortgage loan officers and real estate agents serve the same customer and play complementary roles in the home buying process. And the right partner can be a key source of referral business. But the LO/agent dynamic is often strained by a lack of understanding about the difficulties that professionals face — when the reality is that many of those challenges are felt on both sides of the mortgage and real estate equation.
With that in mind, here's a look at the six things I wish I knew before becoming a real estate agent.
It'll cost you
Upon initiation, you'll pay membership dues for state and local real estate boards, your local multiple listing service, errors and omissions insurance, and perhaps the National Association of Realtors. Dues vary by state and must be maintained annually; they may be paid in monthly installments or required as a lump sum once a year.
As you conduct business as an agent, you'll be responsible for brokerage fees, continuing education costs, your marketing expenses, and most likely your listing signage. You'll also want to provide clients with quality service by supplying a professional photographer and possibly a home stager.
Additional costs to expect include office space and supplies, client lunches, catered home tours and client closing gifts.