I have an active broker, salesperson and instructor license in the state of Georgia and have had for many years. I now only offer online pre-license and continuing education courses on my website through an affiliation with The CE Shop. Many Georgia real estate licensees will contact me when they are looking for CE (continuing education classes) for Georgia real estate license renewal. My name also comes up when searching for pre-license Georgia courses through the Georgia Real Estate Commission web- site.
Here is an example of why I ask you, Is Real Estate the Career for You? Recently I received a call from a man asking how to get his real estate license. In talking with him, I asked about his present employment. He said he was currently on workman’s comp due to an on the job injury, and he wanted to use this time that he isn’t working to get his real estate license. I explained that the pre-license course that I offer is online only. His reply was, do you furnish the computer? I said the computer is not furnished, he would have to provide his own computer for my online classes and I was not aware of computers being furnished in any online class. I further added that there are in-class courses taught in several locations throughout the Atlanta area both in the daytime and at night. He said he didn’t have transportation to get to classes in Atlanta. He was a very nice fellow with a good idea for a career change, but completely unprepared to make that commitment without a solid plan of action as to how to get from where he is to where he would like to be. I hope our conversation gave him some of the items he needs to add to his action plan for a career change list.
Below are a few of the items he might put on a real estate license action plan list:
Computer and computer skills: My caller may eventually be able to get to an in class pre-license course and receive his real estate license since he was without a computer to take the course online, but as soon as he affiliates with a broker and tries to list or sell a house he will need to have access to a computer to get into the multi-listing system. Today real estate is done online and on the computer.
Car: The car doesn’t have to be new, but it does have to be uncluttered, immaculately clean and in good repair. A car is one of the most important tools a real agent must have. An agent’s car is one of the first impressions a client or customer makes about the kind of work they can expect from the agent.
Money: In order to go from working for someone else to being a self-employed real estate sales person working as an independent contractor, you need to have saved at least 6 months to a year of your current wages in order to establish your business and pay expenses until you receive your first commission check. Keep in mind that when you are self-employed you will not be receiving a regular paycheck that includes insurance and company benefits. You will have to provide your own insurance and benefits. Insurance is much more expensive independently than through a corporate entity.
Basic Income Tax Knowledge: When you are self-employed the responsibility of keeping up with and paying your quarterly income taxes will fall directly on you. You will also need a separate bank account for your business. A credit union is a good place to look for an account. You do not need to go to the bank and ask for a business account because the service charges on a business account are very high. All you need is a separate account from your personal account. All expenses for your business should be paid out of this business account. This is by far the easiest way to keep up with what your business is costing and not co-mingle your business and personal money. Your expenses for your business are deductible at the end of the year when you file your taxes. You will also be smart to hire a good real estate accountant to prepare and file your taxes.
A Job: Don’t quit your day job to take a real estate course and get a real estate license. If you depend on your job for living expenses and benefits keep it until you have gotten your license, saved the money you will need to be self-employed and put together a solid business plan for success in real estate. That is why taking an online course is so beneficial if you are currently employed. You are able to study when it is convenient for you, nights and weekends, without having to travel to the class location and commuting on someone else’s schedule. You will also have up to 6 months to complete the online pre-license course. Working part-time in real estate is a possibility and something to be considered until you see that leaving your job and benefits will be possible.
Benefits: In your current employ you probably have insurance and possibly a 401K. Unless there is a spouse in your household with benefits and insurance, you as an independent real estate contractor will have to buy your own private insurance, which is much more expensive than a group employer plan, and provide your own 401K funding plus purchase errors and omissions insurance and a good insurance policy for your car to cover taking customers out with you.
Please know, I am not trying to discourage you from getting your real estate license online through my website. I welcome you! However, after training active agents in my brokerages in years past and teaching and consulting with agents in-class both in Georgia and nationally for the past 20 years I am very painfully aware that many people come into real estate with no real understanding of the difference in being employed by someone else and being self-employed. The broker you affiliate with after you are licensed is not your boss. Many agents expect the broker to tell them what to do and how to be successful in real estate. That is not his job. His job is to give you the opportunity to work under his guidance and provide you with a place to work. He is responsible for your actions but not to give daily directions or instructions as to how to accomplish your task. You will affiliate with him through an independent contractor agreement that will say that you agree to abide by his policy and procedure manual while working in his brokerage, but you are a self- employed independent contractor in the eyes of the IRS and responsible for your own tax accounting. Unfortunately, I have seen many good agents be forced to leave real estate because they spent all their commissions and did not save a portion of every check to pay the taxes due on it.
Thank you for taking the time to ask yourself, Is Real Estate the Career for You?