Can You Succeed Starting as a Part-Time Real Estate Agent?

The Pros and Cons

Estate agent showing of bath
Making a Part-Time Real Estate Career Work. Peter Dazeley/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images

A Less Stressful Financial Prospect

Keeping another job with a steady income can definitely make it less stressful to begin your real estate career. Starting out as a part-time real estate agent could mean the difference between success and failure if commissions are slow to start.

Some Are Part-Time All the Time

There are many agents out there who have remained part-time their entire career. Perhaps it's a single parent who can't devote full-time, or a business person using real estate as an adjunct to their career.

It is possible, but there are challenges that are profiled below.

There's nothing wrong with working part-time in real estate, and it doesn't mean that you're not as qualified as any other full-timer. Don't apologize for your status and don't minimize your service quality. You can be a consummate professional and make a great living part-time in real estate.  The key is in never letting your part time status diminish your service to your customers and clients on their schedules.

Can You Adequately Service Your Prospects and Clients?

Your schedule will definitely not always correspond with that of your customers, either buyers or sellers. Buyers are particularly demanding in their desire to meet with you and to view homes. Special skills will be required to try and modify their requirements to fit your schedule while keeping them satisfied and likely to do business with you again. Many others, like title companies, have set business hours.

You will need systems to get the job done if your schedule is different.

Technology and email have pretty much removed many obstacles related to business hours. You can email your questions or instructions to the title company one evening after work and pick up their email replies during lunch the next day.

Use technology to your advantage.  However, face time with buyers and sellers is something you will need to work on.  Often you can schedule for after work, as they may work as well.  In fact, some will appreciate your willingness to get together in the evenings.

Finding a Broker is More Difficult

Brokers provide services and resources such as office space, phones, computers and more. Many will not want to provide these things to a part-timer with an expected volume of business less than that of a full-time agent they could get.  Technology has changed the business a lot, with less time in the office and more time in the field with cloud services.  This is great for the part time agent.  All you really need is the conference room for client meetings.

Brokers also have prospect and sales lead-sharing procedures. There may be full-time agents that will complain about giving you full shares of leads. Any proportional system will cut your prospective success rate due to fewer leads/prospects.

Time Off Becomes a Scarce Commodity

With two simultaneous careers, it will become very difficult to get time off or take a vacation. Your regular job will be finished for the day and you'll have to go meet with a buyer and show homes.

The weekend comes, but it's filled with real estate duties. Burnout becomes a more threatening prospect.

Many part-timers find that they really must love real estate more than the full-timers, as they must spend their otherwise off hours working at their real estate business, rather than enjoying their life and families.

Income Will Likely Be Split More Ways

If you do stress customer service and meeting their requirements, you'll be getting help from other agents when you just can't meet a required schedule. Prepare to develop commission sharing plans to compensate them when they take up your slack.

Often you can give a small portion of your commission to a newer agent who will show properties just to get the experience with customers and the business.

The Crash Created Many Part-Timers

The real estate and mortgage crash that began in earnest in 2007 decimated the income of many real estate professionals.

A large number left the business altogether. Many others had to find ways to supplement their income until things got better, still not that evident into 2013. If you're one of those, don't let this get you down. In fact, you may have been forced into a situation that created new opportunities, so don't necessarily abandon them when things begin to look better.