Millions of people left their jobs in the U.S. during the pandemic, and real estate was one of the few professions that added new employees.
More than 156,0000 new real estate agents joined the profession in 2020 and 2021, up nearly 60% over the previous two years.
If Google search trends accurately predict change, more people will make that career switch this year. The top job-related search between January 2021 and January 2022 was “how to become a real estate agent.”
Colorado appeals to new agents
Stacie Staub, West+Main founder and CEO, says her agency nearly doubled its agent roster in the past year.
Alan Smith, broker-owner and one of three partners at RE/MAX Professionals, says his company welcomes new agents. “We love newbies. New blood comes in with excitement.”
Kevin Kudrna, Denver area market manager for Redfin, says more agents apply for Redfin’s senior and associate agent positions. Unlike other agencies that pay their agents a commission, Redfin provides a salary and benefits.
“The associate agent role is a great opportunity for newly licensed agents to learn the ropes while getting paid to take customers on tours, host open houses and attend inspections,” Kudrna says.
“Unlike other brokerages that try to recruit as many agents as possible, we open up positions based on actual demand, so we regularly have to turn away more applicants than we can hire.”
Matt Hudson, Colorado Home Realty CEO, says his company prefers to hire experienced agents but will consider new agents if they can show “a proven track record of doing hard things.”
A difficult job
Many people choose to sell real estate because they think the profession offers more flexibility and better work-life balance opportunities. Others think it’s a way to make money quickly.
Many new agents are unprepared for how much time they need to spend and how difficult the job can be. “Some people think they can throw some parties and make a lot of money. They don’t really know what they’re doing,” Hudson says.
He believes agents need to complete 50 transactions to understand the business thoroughly. “Too many get two done and know enough to be dangerous.”
With hard work and patience, most can become good agents. Hudson believes they should work on a team and be committed to consulting a mentor. “You have to embrace the work.”
“Top agents can make $1million plus each year and they earn every penny by delivering value to their customers.”
Real estate is a notoriously challenging profession, with 87 percent of new agents failing within five years.
Getting established is always hard but can be especially difficult now in Colorado’s competitive housing market.
“Our latest data shows that bidding wars hit a record high in February, with 83% of offers facing competition in Denver,” Kudrna says.
“In such a competitive market, it’s been more challenging for all agents, both new and experienced, to get buyers under contract because most of the time buyers are bidding against several other offers.”
And while some people chose to become agents during the pandemic, others decided to leave the profession.
“We had a number of realtors who chose this time to exit the industry, either to retirement or other life events, so our number of realtors is about the same as it was at the start of the pandemic,” says Chad Ochsner, RE/MAX Alliance broker-owner.
Smith says good agents need to specialize either in a specific area or a specific type of housing. “They need to show how they can provide value with their services.”
In addition to understanding their local markets, agents also need to recognize what “bidding war strategies are working so that you can help your customer win,” Kudrna says.
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“If your buyer loses a bidding war, always get feedback from the listing agent to make your next offer better.”
Carrie Hurich, Madison & Company Properties senior vice president of operations, says starting in the Denver market is competitive, but new agents can succeed if they work hard.
“We have one of the best mentee programs in the industry for newer agents. Regardless of your experience level, we offer all our agents first-class training and classes,” Hurich says.
Staub agrees working with a mentor is key to professional development. “At West + Main, we require our ‘new kids’ to have a dedicated, seasoned mentor for supervision, training and support. And w credit our wonderful mentors with the amazing success we are seeing come out of our new agent program.”
Ochsner says new agents need to choose where they work carefully.
“Align yourself with a reputable real estate firm. This business is tough on your own,” Ochsner says. “At RE/MAX, we say, ‘the more you learn, the more you earn!’ so seek out mentors and industry leaders and learn from them.”
Kudrna encourages new agents to take advantage of free continuing education classes offered by title companies and lenders. Then, make sure people know about your abilities.
“Take action by letting your personal network know you are a licensed agent, ready to serve their real estate needs.”