Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - HOMES - BY JIM PARKER Metro Creative

Ca­reers geared to help­ing peo­ple buy and sell their homes can in­clude flex­i­ble work hours and de­cent pay. Still, the real es­tate pro­fes­sion may not be lu­cra­tive enough or of­fer suf­fi­cient busi­ness to jus­tify choos­ing that field. Some may want to do real es­tate part-time as a sec­ond ven­ture to sup­ple­ment their main in­come.

Agents can find it dif­fi­cult to bal­ance their time and as­sign­ments, even if the jobs don’t com­pletely over­lap.

“Start­ing a new ca­reer as a real es­tate agent can be in­tim­i­dat­ing, to say the least. Gone are the days of that ‘guar­an­teed’ pay­check that most peo­ple de­pend on to sur­vive,” said Valo­rie L. Ford, an agent in cen­tral Vir­ginia, in an on­line story on the In­man in­dus­try web­site that orig­i­nally ap­peared on the Ac­tiveRain on­line com­mu­nity of real es­tate pro­fes­sion­als.

She spells out a few tips for part-time agents seek­ing to get into real es­tate full time and for work­ers jump­ing into the field while hold­ing down an­other job.

One key start­ing point is to find a bro­ker who’s used to part-time or newer agents. “Keep in mind that bro­kers fail or suc­ceed as a di­rect re­sult of the ef­forts of the agents who work for them,” Ford noted. “Of­fice space and other re­sources need to be al­lo­cated to those who are pro­duc­ing re­sults. The lim­ited work sched­ule of a part-timer usu­ally equates to less busi­ness,” she said, while adding that some bro­kers are well-suited to work with part-timers.

One broad-based chal­lenge can be the work sched­ule. “Ob­vi­ously it’s not easy to be avail­able for your clients at a time that is good for them if you work lim­ited hours. This is es­pe­cially true of buy­ers who want to see new homes,” Ford said. Other parts of the job, such as deal­ing with lenders can be man­age­able since they can take place dur­ing “nor­mal” busi­ness hours, she says. “But if you work else­where dur­ing this time pe­riod, get­ting things done might be­come quite dif­fi­cult.”

An­other po­ten­tial prob­lem is sit­u­a­tions when it’s not pos­si­ble to meet cer­tain tim­ing re­quire­ments. Even busy full­time agents of­ten will rely on a col­league to pitch in but typ­i­cally will “com­pen­sate the other agent for their as­sis­tance,” she said.

Ford also rec­om­mended that agents “be pre­pared for the ‘long haul,’ par­tic­u­larly if they in­tend to con­tinue in their cur­rent job while also work­ing in real es­tate. “You al­ready know that evenings and week­ends are prime time for agents, and find­ing the time for a day off or va­ca­tion is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult if you want to suc­ceed.”

She said many prospec­tive agents “de­cide to ‘test the wa­ters’ be­fore de­vot­ing them­selves full time as a new agent.” Many as­so­ci­ates be­gin as part-timers and some stay that way, Ford says, not­ing that it fits “sin­gle par­ents, per­sons look­ing to sup­ple­ment an ex­ist­ing in­come, or re­tired per­sons who want to stay ac­tive and in­volved.”

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