With the booming real estate market, especially locally, we are seeing lots of people interested in the real estate business... friends, family, & clients.
But HOW?.. well it all starts with real estate school, but those of us in the business a while know there should be some sort of personality exam first. HA! It's a very interesting and challenging business, but so much fun most of the time! Here is what you need to know before you take the first steps to become a Realtor.
Real Estate School
This is the actual real first step. My schooling was 16 years ago, WHOA! So things have obviously changed, but the goal of real estate school is to provide a framework for the industry and help you learn to pass the test. Then the real education begins. ;-) My top recommendation would be a real school like Kaplan where their sole focus is the real estate industry and surrounding fields (appraisers, etc).
There are other ways to do it, I think our local community college and probably the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) have real estate classes. Classes can be taken on-line through schools all over the country.
Real Estate Test
(Dun dun DUNNN)
- You have to pay each time
- There is one test facility in Colorado Springs (and one in Pueblo)
- There are two portions... State and National
- Plan a couple hours
- Results pretty much immediately
- I think the majority do not pass the first time
- Your license can transfer to different state with different levels of reciprocity (some are full transfer, some partial, some require taking their state test, some don't transfer and you have to start over)
Hanging Your New License
Once you pass the test!.. you will soon have a Colorado Real Estate license, but now you have to figure out where to "hang" your license. During real estate school, if you went to classes at Kaplan in person, some real estate companies will come visit your class and do some light recruiting. You may also do research on your own. What do you want? ... what do you need?
- First, the state requires hanging your license under a brokerage for minimum 2 years to be supervised by a broker.
- small or big?
- boutique or big box?
- company splits or desk fees?
- personality (yes, offices carry different personalities, and like any job, it's nice to get along with the people you work with)
- monthly meetings
- supporting staff
- mentor program
Once you pass your test, to be issued a license, you have to be fingerprinted by the state of Colorado. They do a full background check.
The Costs of Being a Realtor
It is expensive to get going; there are start-up and recurring costs:
- Real Estate School
- PPAR/CAR/NAR (see next paragraph) - monthly/annually
- Electronic Contract Software - monthly
- License Renewal - every 1-3 years
- Signage - as needed
- Lockboxes - as needed
- Education - multiple times annually
- Gas/vehicle maintenance - weekly/monthly (I drive now about 25,000 miles per year)
- Meals, expenses, client referral gifts
- I'm sure there are others I'm not thinking of!
Join a Real Estate Board
Our local board is the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. Membership here includes membership to the local board (PPAR), Colorado Association of Realtors (CAR) and National Association of Realtors (NAR). To join the board there are required orientation and ethics classes. You will learn how to use the MLS and how to handle various situations. It would also be advised to take additional classes through PPAR or local title companies for things like contracts, electronic contract software, etc. There is so much you can learn.
Required Continuing Education
As with most licensed profession, continued education is required... a certain amount of hours per 1 and 3 year period... ethics, contracts, elective courses... all to help you become better at what you do.
The industry is constantly changing, the contracts change annually, every transaction is different because of various parties involved and every home is unique.
My best advice
- work on a team or under a mentor for at least a year!
- soak up everything you can from the successful agents around you
- SAVE$$!... it can take months/years to be truly successful, and even then there are rollercoaster times as the market shifts. It may be several months before you close your first sale, and you need to still be able to pay your rent/mortgage during that time... and probably eat.
If you have a friend who is a Realtor in Colorado Springs, take them to lunch or coffee and "pick their brain". I have done this with several people in the past few years. I love helping people, so I want to talk them through if it's a good choice. Everyone thinks it's so easy right now because it's busy, but in 16+ years, this is the hardest market I think I've worked! If you are interested, jump in with both feet and prepare to be challenged, frustrated, encouraged, let-down, built-up, and grow! If you already have your license check out our mentorship program. It is a good option to get off on a good foot once you have your license.