Perhaps you’re considering a change in career, asking yourself, “Can I be a part-time real estate agent?” Yes! You absolutely can make real estate your side hustle. Licensed real estate agents can work as many or as few hours as they want. That makes this career a near-perfect choice for someone looking for interesting, flexible, part-time work with practically unlimited earning potential.

Is a Part-time Real Estate Career Right for You?

I bet you’ve got some great questions about how it all works and whether being a part-time real estate agent would be a good fit for you. Having been a part-time agent myself and coached many more, I’ve got some answers! Watch my video below or read on.

1. How much money can a part-time real estate agent make?

Your income as an agent is based on commissions earned from property sales. Typical commission rates for real estate agents are 6% of a home’s selling price, split evenly between the listing agent and the selling agent. A survey by educational institution Colibri Real Estate puts the average annual income for real estate agents working less than 20 hours a week at $24,566.

Curious how much an agent or broker makes in a year? Colibri surveyed thousands of real estate professionals, compiling the data for a comprehensive report that gives this kind of deep insight into the industry. If you want to understand your income potential, fill out the form below to get Colibri’s report and learn all the secrets of the trade. The future is bright and the numbers are there to prove it.

2. Do real estate agents earn a salary?

No. Almost all agents are classified as independent contractors rather than as salaried employees. Ultimately, your income depends on your operating expenses and the number of sales you close. Your potential income is virtually unlimited. But there’s also a real chance that you could make no money in a given month (or even be in the hole when you account for expenses).

3. What is a typical Realtor’s schedule?

There’s no set schedule for a real estate agent, full or part time. Business happens around your clients’ needs, which can mean working in the evenings or on weekends.

4. Might a client hesitate to work with a part-time real estate agent?

Real estate clients care about the value you provide, your insight into the market, and the ways you help them achieve their goals, not how many hours you’re logging. Success is all about your people skills. You might feel intimidated by having to compete with full-time real estate veterans. But here’s the secret to success: At the end of the day, real estate is a relationship business. Your interpersonal skills and responsiveness matter much more than your time on the job.

5. Is it hard for part-time real estate agents to work for a brokerage?

Real estate agents must have a sponsoring broker in order to represent buyers and sellers in transactions. Your options as a part-time real estate agent might be more limited compared to your full-time colleagues. However, there are definitely brokerages that are happy to hire energetic, talented part-timers.

Related Article
Real Estate Broker vs. Agent: A Head-to-Head Analysis

How to Get Started as a Part-time Real Estate Agent

If the answers to the above questions have you fired up to begin your new side hustle, this section is for you. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to start as a part-time Realtor.

1. Get Your Real Estate License

To legally offer real estate services, you need a license from the state you want to operate in. The length of time and cost required to obtain a license varies depending on your location. But the overall process is pretty similar. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to do:

  1. Take a prelicensing course that satisfies your state’s education requirements
  2. Take some real estate practice exams
  3. Pass your state test
  4. Register your license with your state

If you’re ready to dive right into step one, I suggest checking out our top choice of online real estate schools, Colibri Real Estate, for your prelicensing courses. They offer affordable options in just about every state. We are consistently impressed with the quality of education, their well-designed self-paced courses, and their pass-or-don’t-pay guarantee.

2. Select Your Brokerage 

Whether you’re part time or full time, you’ll need a broker to sponsor your license. A broker is someone who has met their state’s requirements in terms of experience, education, and additional licensing compliance. They are responsible for managing and supervising real estate agents. 

As you meet with brokers, be open and honest about how much time you plan to dedicate to real estate and make sure that your expectations align. There are plenty of brokerages that are happy to have motivated part-time agents, so don’t feel like you have to misrepresent your bandwidth.

How You—& Your Broker—Get Paid 

You’ll split every commission you earn with your broker until you hit your cap, or the maximum amount you’re required to pay to your broker each year. Though split and cap amounts vary from broker to broker, part-time agents should expect to pay as much as 50% of their commission to their broker.

To make your part-time real estate business profitable, you’ll need to earn more in net commission income (NCI) than your expenses. To learn more about NCI, gross commission income (GCI), and how to calculate both, check out What Is GCI & Why It Matters to Every Real Estate Agent.

Calculating Expenses

Some brokers will require you to pay a monthly fee for being a part of their organization—often referred to as a “desk fee.” Not every broker charges a desk fee, but many will expect one from part-timers. It’s important to understand these requirements upfront.

You might be tempted to go with the brokerage that charges the lowest fees, but it’s also important to consider the benefits they offer new real estate agents. The best brokers will help you get started and offer mentorship. They know that you’re at the start of your career, and they want to be sure you have the tools you need to be successful.

3. Make a Plan (or Three!)

Becoming a real estate agent means you’re essentially starting your own business, even though you’re part of a larger brokerage. As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be thoughtful and plan carefully. Here are a few of the items you’ll want to map out.

Business Plan

Start with a real estate business plan, which will help you manage operating costs and project your income. With our business plan guide and template, you can sketch out what you’ll spend, how much you expect to make, and your expenses along the way. Our article explains all of the typical operating costs (commission splits, desk fees, licensing and membership fees, technology, and marketing expenses) and how to project them. 

Marketing Plan

Speaking of marketing expenses, this is also something you’ll want to map out. How are you going to differentiate yourself from other agents? Are you a fantastic negotiator? Ultra-connected in your community? Do you have a savvy sales background? Are you skilled with video and social media? Do you have great people skills and a passion for helping others?

💡 Here’s my pro tip 💡: Real estate clients choose agents based on the skills they bring to the table. Since you’re just starting out as a part-timer, make your personal brand about the value of your skills and market knowledge, not your length of experience. This is how you compete with full-time, experienced agents and win.

The article below, which outlines the steps for creating a marketing plan and gives you a handy template, will help you put all this advice into practice.

Related Article
The Ultimate Real Estate Marketing Plan Template for Long-term Growth

Lead Generation Plan

To be a successful part-time real estate agent, you’ll need leads that turn into clients. Whether you plan to work from your sphere of influence (more here on how to build one), or from paid lead sources like Market Leader, Zillow, or one of my new favorites, Rezi Leads, you’ll need a plan to generate enough leads to make your business sustainable. 

Also be sure you have a good customer relationship management (CRM) system early on. It’s a critical tool to help manage and track all your interactions with your leads, prospects, and clients. We named LionDesk our best real estate CRM of 2023 because it’s affordable and packed with features. Plus, you can automate emails, text messaging, and snail-mail marketing tools, leaving you time for all of your other duties.

Check out our lead generation plan below and use our template to bring it all together.

Related Article
How to Create a Custom Real Estate Lead Generation Plan (+ Template)

Want more resources for successfully launching your part-time real estate business? Download our Part-time Real Estate Agent Launch Guide for detailed instructions on making your first four weeks in the industry the best they can be.

4. Set Your Schedule

Since real estate is your part-time gig, it’s essential to set some boundaries from the get-go. Here are a couple of ways to ensure that your real estate obligations don’t eclipse your other professional, familial, and personal commitments:

  • If you have a full-time job, let your boss know that you’ve got a new venture. Assure your employer that it won’t interfere with your work, and let them know you’re ready to help with any real estate needs!
  • Carve out time for real estate every single week and put it on your calendar. Make sure to share this time with your clients so they know when you’re available. You may have to be flexible, especially if a client is only available at certain times, but setting expectations early is a great way to avoid scheduling mishaps.
  • If this is your first time attempting a side hustle, you need to know that time is your most precious commodity. It’s natural to be excited about the progress and success you’re making in real estate. However, if you don’t have at least a little downtime each week, burnout will become a problem across all of your commitments.
  • Demanding clients can be a challenge when your schedule doesn’t allow for total flexibility. However, you can avoid stress by letting them know the best ways to communicate with you. Be clear about when they can expect to hear back from you, and when you’re available for in-person conversations. Again, setting expectations early helps to quell frustration later on.
  • It’s easy for your part-time real estate career to become full time if you’re spreading out your in-person interactions across too many days. Pick one day of the week for all of your showings, listing appointments, and consultations so you can spend the balance of the week working your leads.

For more tips on how to best manage your time, check out my video on productivity hacks below:

When you’re ready to launch your real estate business, that first month is crucial. We put together a guide with week-by-week breakdowns of how you should be spending your time in order to get your business off the ground.

Download Your Part-time Real Estate Agent Launch Guide

Bringing It All Together

Becoming a part-time real estate agent is a perfect next step for someone who wants an interesting, potentially very lucrative side hustle. It appeals to those who value flexibility, entrepreneurship, and helping others. Remember, clients are looking for an agent who demonstrates a commitment to them and their objectives. This is way more important than a specific number of houses sold or hours worked.

We’d love to hear what’s drawing you to the real estate field. Are you currently as a part-time real estate agent? What has your experience been like so far? Let us know in the comment section below!

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