What’s it like to switch careers and get started in real estate? We sat down with Real Estate Express graduate, Brooke Tanner, to find out. After working in the corporate world for 20 years, Brooke decided to get her real estate license online and start her dream job in real estate two years ago. Below, she shares why she got into real estate, how her life has changed, how she chose her brokerage, and advice for new agents or people who are interested in getting licensed.
Q: How did you get interested in real estate?
A: I’ve always been interested in real estate since I was little. My dad and I would always watch the Sunday morning new listings come up, and we would drive around to different areas and look at houses and just imagine the lives of the people who lived in those houses.
I love interior design, landscaping and homes in general. Combining that with the business side of things has been a passion of mine. When people would ask me “What was your dream job?” I would say real estate.
Q: How has your life changed since becoming a real estate agent?
A: My life has changed very much for the better since getting my license. I’m really enjoying being my own boss, setting my own schedule, being busy when I want to be, and reaping the rewards of what I put into my business. I’m able to volunteer at my children’s school, attend sporting events when those are going on, and be there for my family.
Becoming a real estate agent has allowed me to grow personally and professionally by not being stuck in an office setting all of the time. So it’s really allowing me to grow and change my life. I feel less stress, and my children and my husband feel that as well. So it makes it for a better lifestyle for all of us.
Q: What’s your favorite aspect of real estate?
A: One of my favorite parts of real estate is when you meet new clients. They come into your office for a needs analysis, and you get to know them and understand what they’re looking for—whether they’re downsizing or buying their first home or looking to upgrade a little bit. You become somewhat friendly and you show them houses, and then all of a sudden you walk into this home and their eyes light up and they’re like, “Oh, this is the home for me.” I love it. It’s such a great feeling to have that experience with them. It’s pretty special.
Q: How did you go about choosing a brokerage?
A: I did this before I started my pre-licensing class, just to make sure I found the right fit for me. I would go to the different brokerages and speak with a broker and then just sit down and talk with them about how many agents they have, what type of training they have, what would be their plan for me if I were to work for them, how would I start out initially, are they looking for new agents, etc. I’d also ask about the type of marketing materials that they would be able to provide me with. Do they provide their own signs? What are the fees for the office space? What is the commission split? Etc.
There are a lot of different things to incorporate in your decision when you’re going with a brokerage. For me, my choice was picking one that provided me with training. I knew that Real Estate Express would provide me with information about what I would need to do to pass the tests and provide me with some real life situations, but I wanted to pick a brokerage that would allow me to work with somebody who’s tenured in real estate. I wanted to make sure that there was free training to help me get started on the right foot. I also wanted to have a good company that would provide me with marketing materials and copyrights and things that would make me look like a true professional starting out, especially being new.
Q: Do you have any advice for new agents or people who are thinking about getting their license?
A: I would advise a new real estate agent or somebody looking to get licensed to really think about what you’re looking to get out of the business. Do you really want to be self-employed as a self-employed business owner? Because that’s really what it is. You’re a 1099 employee. You really have to put in the work. You have to create material and send the word out to everyone you know that you’re in real estate.
You have to be comfortable with the fact that you might not earn the business of everyone you know just by walking in the door. You might have friends who choose to go with other people. You have to let that go and understand that on the back end it might be a good thing because you don’t want to hurt your friendship going forward if they do choose somebody else.
I would also say to look at the income you want to make right at the beginning. If you’re leaving a six-figure job in the corporate world, you’re probably not going to make as much as you were making before—at least not in the beginning of your real estate career.
But once you get going, you’re going to make more money—if you put all of the work into it and really do your homework and look at the market. Where I live, the average home sales are not as high as let’s say St. Louis or North Carolina or California. Around $150,000 is the average home sale where I’m from. Typically, you get 3.5% or 3% commission if you get one side of that deal.
Do the math and figure out how many deals you’re going to have to get each month in order to make the income that you want. Just really do some homework, and then look at the different types of schools out there. Real Estate Express really did a great job for me. I could study when I wanted to, look at the tracker to see how I was progressing, and then plan out when I could take my licensing exam.
Do the work to find the right brokerage as well. Find a company that works well for you with the commission split and the type of assistance and backing that they’re going to have for you.
Brooke Tanner is a Real Estate Express alum and real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Schmidt in West Michigan with over 20 years of customer service experience. She strives to be the best resource and trusted advisor for all buyers and sellers by staying on top of industry changes and trends.