The economic downturn and housing crisis have been tough on many Americans, and some real estate professionals have been hit especially hard. I have talked to many real estate agents, appraisers, and mortgage professionals who went from busy to super slow in a matter of months.
There have been bright spots with sales motivated by the first time home buyer tax credit and a recent uptick in refinances due to record low mortgage rates, but the past couple of years have not been kind to many smart, driven, hard working, and experienced individuals in the real estate industry. Recently I have heard of more and more professionals say they have decided to or are considering scaling back their real estate work to part time and finding another part time job to help them stay afloat.
While I understand the thinking behind this, and admire the willingness to be flexible, I think it is important to really think through the following issues before wholly or partially giving up a profession you love and have seen success in.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Part-Time Realtor in a Tough Economy
- Will I be able to serve my customers well as a part-time agent?
If not why would you ask a buyer or seller to stay with you? In this market you need something that sets you apart from everyone else – for the better. If another part time job means not returning phone calls or emails promptly, being unable to accommodate a client’s schedule for showings, and not giving 100% to the homes you have listed for sale and the home search for your buyers it’s not fair to you or your clients. It will also only mean more stress and anxiety for you as you feel that you are letting people down.
- Will I be poised to reenter the market full force when it improves?
Most of us in the industry believe real estate values will begin to rise again, and that the market will pick up before too long. Call it the American spirit…or crazy optimism. When the market does rebound will you want to be right back in the thick of things? If you take a step back what will you do to keep your skills sharp, and to stay up to date on the market? How will you stay in front of your client and referral base so they know who to turn to when it’s time to buy or sell a home?
- Will my income be higher with two part time jobs?
Sometimes the allure of a steady paycheck doesn’t translate to an actual increase in income. Consider what the part time position pays per hour. Do you see any opportunity to make some changes to your current business that would allow you to increase your income or decrease your expenses by that amount? Sometimes some creative thinking or focused effort will pay off more than moonlighting as a bartender.
If after thinking it through it makes the most sense for you to seek another position, first see if you can find something that is still related to the real estate industry. Your existing skill set will make you a great candidate potentially allowing you to bypass entry level jobs, and it will help you stay connected to real estate. Some examples include leasing consultant or property manager at an apartment or office complex, sales agent for a new home builder, relocation specialist for a large corporation, or even receptionist or administrative assistant for a real estate brokerage.
If you do set your sights outside the industry watch out for employment scams that are especially prevalent in this tough economy. Be wary of any position that requires you to make an up front investment.