A career in real estate does not have a single point of entry. In fact, it's more like a choose-your-own-adventure book, but with less risk of being eaten by a dragon (unless you're selling castles, in which case, all bets are off):
Adventure 1: You choose real estate as your first full-time job.
Adventure 2: You choose real estate as a secondary revenue stream — a side hustle.
Adventure 3: You choose real estate as a second career.
While all three pathways are valid, the first choice is fairly rare. Very few students step off the graduation stage, toss their caps in the air, and say, "From this day forward, I shall go forth and sell houses!" The National Association of Realtors has even put a number to this, recently revealing that the median age of its members is 52 — only 5% of whom report real estate as their first career.
So, in this article, we're going to focus on the two more popular points of entry into the world of real estate: the side hustle and second career. Who knows, maybe you’ll decide to lace up your hiking boots and choose one of these adventures for yourself.
Real Estate: The Savvy Side Hustle
According to a 2023 Bankrate survey, 39% of adult Americans have a side hustle. Half of millennials have one, and more than half of Gen Zers do as well. More side hustlers (33%) view that income as essential than those (27%) who see it as discretionary income.
In other words, it might be less of a question of whether or not you should have a side hustle than what side hustle you should choose.
With that in mind, let's dive into some of the reasons why real estate might just be the side hustle you've been searching for.
Flexibility: Unlike your 9-to-5 job that has you chained to a desk, real estate offers the flexibility to work when you want. Early bird? Night owl? Somewhere in between? No problem! Need to be there for the kiddos before and after school. That’s doable. This is a side hustle where you can schedule showings and meetings around your existing commitments and preferred lifestyle.
Extra Income: Let's face it, who couldn't use a little extra cash? Whether you're saving for a dream vacation, paying off student loans, or funding your coffee addiction (no judgment here), real estate can provide a nice boost to your income.
Networking Opportunities: Real estate is a people business. You'll meet folks from all walks of life, which can lead to new friendships, business partnerships, or even your next job.
Learning Experience: Ever wondered what escrow is or how to negotiate a deal? Real estate can be a masterclass in business skills that are transferable to other areas of your life.
Fun Factor: Let's not forget: Real estate can be fun! Touring homes, imagining the possibilities, helping people find their dream place — it's like playing a real-life game of Monopoly, but without the family arguments.
Real Estate as a Side Hustle: Low Risk/High Reward
Perhaps the biggest perk of developing a real estate side hustle is the relatively low risk/high reward ratio of the venture.
New agents who get into real estate full-time are often told to have a money reserve set aside sufficient to get them through 6 months to a year’s time while they grow their business. The side hustle approach makes that a non-issue.
Think of easing into a real estate side hustle like dipping your toes into a pool before diving in. It's a smart, low-key way to get a feel for the industry. By keeping your day job, you've got a financial safety net while you're building your real estate empire.
Making a Real Estate Side Hustle Work
If you decide to enter into real estate as a side hustle, there are a few things you’ll want to prepare for.
Finding a Side Hustle-Friendly Broker: Real estate agents must be sponsored by a broker, so before you can start selling, you're going to need a broker who's cool with part-time agents. Not all brokers are created equal, and some might prefer their sales team to work full-time. So, do your homework and find a broker who's at least open to the idea. And if you can plant the seed that this might one day lead to your making real estate a full-time gig, it’ll probably increase the chances they go along with your side hustle plan.
I Get by with a Little Help from my Friends: Your next challenge is time management. If you're already working a 9 to 5, those are hours you can't be available to your clients, right? One solution: Join a real estate team within a brokerage. Then, you can operate like tag team partners in a wrestling match, coordinating with other agents to cover for you when your schedule doesn't align with a client's needs. Just remember that while teamwork makes the dream work, it also means sharing the spoils. Be prepared to compensate your helpful agent team members appropriately.
Tick-Tock, You’re Always on the Clock: Real estate, like any side hustle, is going to add to your workload. Part-time real estate agents generally spend 15 to 30 hours on their side hustle, so you'll need to become a master scheduler. Think of it as your new superpower: Master Time Manager, able to juggle multiple tasks in a single day! And take care, superhero, to hang up your cape and take breaks and vacation days now and then. Burnout is real but can be prevented with a little self-care and planning.
Under-promise/Over-deliver: It's tempting to take on as many clients as possible, but remember, your time is already at a premium. You might want to limit yourself to two clients at a time to ensure you can give them the attention they deserve.
So there you have it, the keys to making a real estate side hustle work. It's not always easy, but with the right approach, it can be a rewarding and profitable adventure.
Real Estate as a Second Career
Two questions to ponder before jumping into real estate as a second career:
Are the perks and benefits of a career in real estate of value to me?
Am I a good candidate at this stage of my life to make this kind of move?
Let’s explore those questions, starting with the perks of the profession.
Why Choose a Career in Real Estate
There are multiple lists circulating online describing the allure of a career in real estate. Here are some of the more commonly cited perks:
Skills You Bring to Your Second Career in Real Estate
If you are coming to real estate as a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) career, your previous job titles are not critically important — but the skills you picked up along the way might be. It’s very possible that your resume is chock full of relevant experience that will speed up your learning curve and set you up for success.
So, as you review this list of skills essential to a career in real estate, consider those you bring to the table from your previous jobs, not to mention any first-hand experience you may have in buying or selling your own home. And understand that even the skills you don’t have presently can be ones you’ll enjoy developing during this phase of your career.
The skills list:
Communication: This is the bread and butter of real estate. And you'll need to be as smooth as melted butter on a hot biscuit when it comes to conveying information, listening to clients, and translating all that real estate jargon into plain English.
Marketing: Think of yourself as a movie director, and each property is your latest blockbuster. You'll need to create compelling narratives and eye-catching visuals and know how to put the spotlight on your properties' best features.
Networking: In real estate, it's all about who you know. Imagine being at a never-ending cocktail party where you're constantly making connections, shaking hands, and remembering names… It can be like that. But it’s not about being cheesy or pushy so much as putting yourself out there in a friendly, helpful sort of way.
Negotiation: This is where the magic happens. You'll need the finesse of a diplomat and the tenacity of a bulldog to secure the best deals for your clients. Assuming, of course, you have a firm grip on the facts relating to property values in your local market, you’ll do fine.
Time Management: Real estate is a juggling act, and you're the star performer. Balancing client meetings, property showings, paperwork, and your personal life requires some serious scheduling skills.
Technology: In today's digital world, tech-savviness is a must. From online listings to customer relationship management software to virtual tours, you'll need to be as comfortable with technology as a teenager with a smartphone.
Real Estate: You Can Get There from Here
Whether you’re considering getting into real estate as a side hustle or as a second career, please know that you can get there from here. Regardless of your background, with a little grit and determination, you can definitely make it happen and it will definitely be worth your while.