Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Career Helping People Find A Place To Call Home

This is a pretty innocuous view of what a real estate career is. We need to remind ourselves of what the basics are every now and then. So much has gone into demonizing the industry and the people in it since the market explosion of the 00's.

A Career Helping People Find a Place to Call Home

By Aja Carmichael

From The Wall Street Journal Online

The job: A residential real-estate agent

The pay: Agents are paid by commission. The median annual pay for a real-estate sales agent is $37,600, according to the National Association of Realtors. In New York, an agent who's starting out can make as much as $70,000 a year -- if successful -- while in Washington, an agent could earn $80,000. Some also receive year-end bonuses.

The hours: Agents who handle the sales of luxury homes in popular markets say they sometimes work as many as 70 hours a week.

Benefits: Independent-contract agents don't receive benefits, though many pay for medical coverage through a trade group, such as the National Association of Realtors.

Related Links

Five Almost Painless Ways To Make a Career Change

Pay Table: What residential real-estate professionals earn

Other incentives: Vary -- some top-selling agents can receive complimentary trips to exotic destinations, while some offices offer treats like weekly massage services. Agents with high-profile clients may also receive invitations to exclusive events.

Career path: Many agents say starting as an assistant to another agent helped them learn the industry from the ground up. Agents, who are licensed by state, need to have strong negotiating skills and know their local housing market as well as the past of buildings they're selling. "When you're selling a home you're literally selling a piece of history," says John T. Mahshie, an associate at Tutt, Taylor & Rankin, an affiliate of Sotheby's International Realty in Washington.

Best part of the job: Helping people find a home, and making friends. "The American dream is to own a house," says Anthony Abdalla, a real-estate agent at Coldwell Banker's Town & Country Property in Clarks Summit, Pa. "It's so rewarding to help people reach their dreams."

"The nature of what I do is so personal," says Joan Sacks, an associate broker at Stribling & Associates in New York. "My business relationships with these total strangers end up as friendships. They become part of my social circle and to me that's a perk."

Worst part of the job: When a deal falls through. "It's frustrating not being able to have [complete] control of a deal," says Wendy J. Sarasohn, a real-estate broker at Corcoran Group Real Estate in New York. "Sometimes things do not work out, so I've learned to be more resilient and to find my clients better deals."

"Most people's homes are their primary assets, so some tend to be emotional about selling," notes Drew Kern, a real-estate agent at Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors in Coral Gables, Fla., a subsidiary of HomeServices of America. "To help them sell, you have to make sure their personal and financial goals are met."

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