Helpful Advice for Expats Who Plan to Work in Real Estate

houses, broker, expat profession

Helpful Advice for Expats Who Plan to Work in Real Estate

During my time abroad I came across many expats who changed profession and became housing experts during their time abroad. I got curious about this and want to introduce you to the profession of a real estate agent. Learn more about the profession itself, the advantages for expats, and how to become a real estate agent in the first place. 

Realtors are the heart of the real estate world. Although the job might seem like a pretty straightforward occupation, this exciting vocation actually requires you to wear many hats — from sales and public relations, to marketing and analysis. This has made it one of the most common jobs in America. In a 2017 report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that agents can earn as high as $109,490 annually. But of course, there’s more to being a real estate professional than counting your money.

To have a flourishing career in real estate, you’ll have to learn how to walk the tightrope between timing and effort. Like any other business or job, it takes a while before you are able to establish both feet on solid ground. And as an expat, there will be a little bit more research and training to be done, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the industry and country. 

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The American real estate industry can be very dynamic, especially since its requisites and success rates can vary per state. Detroit, for example, is ranked by WalletHub as one of the most challenging places for real estate agents in the country. This is because of the limited job opportunities in the state, coupled with low job growth. On the other hand, New York tops the list of most ideal places for real estate work, with a post by Yoreevo noting that NYC-based agents can earn as much as $87,000 annually. But of course, it’s important to understand that this comes with its own set of challenges, like having tighter competition between fellow agents. In general, America is a promising place when it comes to the real estate industry. On top of that, income tax is comparatively low.

So if you’re looking to pursue a new career as a real estate agent in America, we’ve outlined some essentials you need to know:

Understanding your state’s licensing requirements

Like mentioned, each state’s real estate licensing prerequisites can vary. Don’t expect to be able to practice everywhere because your license isn’t a one-size-fits-all document. Contact your state’s real estate commission to be sure, but to give you a glimpse, most states require the following:

  • You must be at least 18 or 19 years of age.
  • You must complete your required pre-license education.
  • You must pass your state’s real estate license examination.

Getting licensed

Before starting the groundwork on your budding real estate career, it’s important to get a grip on your expenses. Expect to shell out around $2,500 just to get your foot in the door. This amount will include paying for licensing classes and exam fees. Now, the first step for you is to take your state and national real estate courses. They are typically conducted in a classroom setting, but with the advent of online classes, some of them are now offered virtually. After passing the exams, you’ll have to take the state and national board exams. Once you’ve passed, you’ll be granted a number of days to find a brokerage.
broker, houses

Finding a broker

One of the most crucial parts of your career is deciding which brokerage to partner with. Don’t rush this step, as it’s important to take your time meeting brokers from the different ends of the spectrum. The Real Estate Agent’s Desk Reference’ author James Kimmons warns that too many new agents think choosing a broker should be based primarily on commission splits; but that’s not what it’s all about. Before anything, remember that you’re an independent contractor who operates as your own business.  Therefore, it’s important to study what each broker can offer in the realm of training and tools as well as how much they are going to charge you. Take note that you could be paying over $10,000 annually after subtracting association dues, insurance, desk fees, and more.
broker, expat

How commissions work

Technically, there is no ceiling to the potential earnings in real estate. It is set on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Though percentages can vary, the estimated share is around 5-6% of a home’s selling price.

This is why it’s crucial to talk to your broker to establish your commission rates. Will your share depend on total sales? Or are you dead set on taking home every penny from your cut?

Putting in the hours

One of the most common misconceptions in real estate is that you get to enjoy a highly flexible schedule. While it’s no 9-5 job, this doesn’t really mean you’ll be allowed to sit around all day. American work culture is cut-throat and highly competitive. In real estate, your hours usually depend on your clients — which, unfortunately, could mean well beyond the 9-5.

Growing your network

As detailed on a previous post here on Share the Love, self-marketing is crucial in American work culture — and the real estate industry isn’t exempt. The key to a successful realtor career is continuously fostering your clientele and network, because they’ll help you build new relationships with potential customers.

I hope you find this post useful in your personal quest to develop yourself professionally abroad. I came across many expats who got active in that field. If you have changed your career path as well during your expat journey please don’t hesitate and send me a message to info@sharethelove.blog. I would love to cover your story to inspire others!

Thanks for sharing the love and stopping by

Kate from Share the Love, expat, expat wife, expat life

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