Real Estate Assistant to Begin Agent Career

Realtor with sale sign
Getty Images/David Sacks

Starting as an Un-licensed Real Estate Assistant:

The fastest way into the real estate business can be as an un-licensed assistant to a successful real estate agent or broker. Benefits are normal hours and a salary or hourly wage.

As the duties you'll perform do not require a license, the requirements for this position are more general office type skills. Good computer skills, graphics design experience, people skills and some organizational abilities usually work fine.

State regulations usually limit what you can do. Click here for an example set of allowed duties.

An Assistant With a License Can Do More:

If you get your license but still want to ease into the business, a licensed real estate assistant gets a better wage due to the expanded duties they're allowed to perform. The agent or broker can be relieved of more tasks this way, and also not have to be present at open houses. You can handle many more questions from clients and prospects.

Click to see duties that you can perform that are prohibited to an un-licensed assistant.

The Personal Factors

Let's start by saying that a large percentage of new agents fail and get out of the business in their first or second year.  Why?  Well, there isn't one single reason, but the biggest is not making enough money.  However, that's not just bad luck, as there are reasons:

  • not enough thought put into the transition and loss of their old income.
  • no budget is developed and followed.
  • the new agent doesn't market themselves, instead relying on broker marketing and floor duty.
  • expenses are higher than they anticipated.
  • they didn't do an income analysis and realistic plan for income generation.
  • they didn't realize that half or more of the buyer prospects would not be ready to buy or they would lose them to other agents.
  • they anticipated much more referral business than they got from family and friends.

So, they try and fail, and they're out of the business.  The money, training and time to get their license is usually wasted, as they never try again.

If you have any doubt about your staying power if things don't go exactly as planned, consider taking a job as a licensed assistant for a while.  You can get a salary and earn while you learn.  

Earn While You Earn is Valuable

The fact is that much of what you learn to take the license exam is good to know, but it's not going to be very helpful in the daily practice of real estate.  In fact, most of the contract stuff, transaction management, inspections and other details are never mentioned in license exam courses.

Another reason that some new agents don't last long is that they make some pretty big mistakes in their first few deals.  Even if they aren't the type of errors that get them some type of censure or license suspension, they can often involve very upset customers/clients.  It's shattering to be new and basking in the glow of your first deal only to find that you made an error that cost your customers money.

The new agent in their first few transactions will run into dozens or many more questions, or situations where they don't know what to do.

 They will risk practicing law without a license by writing contingencies or other clauses into contracts.  They mean well, but the experience isn't there yet.  If blowing it and harming a customer or upsetting them is going to be a big problem for you, the assistant idea is a good one.

In performing the duties of a licensed assistant, you'll get to read over contracts, addenda, amendments, inspection reports and more.  You'll learn what you need to know for when you decide it's time to take the plunge.