What's it Like to be a Richmond VA Realtor?

What's it Like to be a Richmond VA Realtor?

Richmond VA Realtor, Shannon Milligan When I am working with clients, they will often ask me - what's it like to be a Richmond VA Realtor? - It is great and something I can't imagine not doing, however I think there are some misconceptions about the job in general. Let me explain... Before I was a Realtor I had a career in advertising and medical marketing. The advertising career taught me the importance of finding a unique way of getting a message to a target audience and medical marketing taught me the art of relationship building. Neither profession was a 9-5 job and, after working as the Marketing Associate for a very large real estate company, I wondered if real estate SALES was the perfect combination for my skill set. I also thought sales may provide more of a work-life balance, so I obtained my real estate license and became an agent! Was I correct in my assumption that I could dictate my own schedule and be my own boss? Yes. And...No.

Being a Realtor is More Than Just Opening a Door

Since the inception of HGTV and other real estate related television programming, many have the notion that being a Realtor is just opening a door and writing up a sales receipt. Heck, even I thought, "if they can do it, I can do it. It can't be that hard!" Well, I wouldn't say it is HARD but it sure as heck isn't EASY. To be a successful Richmond VA Realtor you have to understand BUSINESS. If one doesn't have the mindset of real estate as a business, then you are DOA. The very first thing that I did when I got my license was to purposely seek out an entry level position in the real estate industry. I knew I would be responsible for a vast amount of client's money and I didn't want to screw it up as I would be livid if someone was careless with my investments. I landed a position working with a Mega-Agent and began to learn the business from the "mail room" up. The way I see it is if you are ever going to be the "boss" then you need to know how everything below you functions. Steve Jobs didn't just sit in his office and manage Apple. No, Steve Jobs was in the thick of it all always staying in curiosity and was leading from the front. Success leaves clues and I was good at following the breadcrumbs. When I felt I hit the ceiling of my position with the team, I decided it was time to go out on my own and be a full-fledged Richmond VA Realtor. Even then the very first thing I did was sign up for a mentoring program with a very established, well respected agent in the Richmond community. The deal was I would meet with her once a week, she would help me implement a business and marketing plan, and she would guide me through my first three deals. Although no one likes to give up money, this was without a doubt the BEST INVESTMENT I EVER MADE. I invested in her, she invested in me, and the outcome is the consumer, YOU, reap the benefits of that mentoring. Getting a real estate license is simple. Go to classes and take a test. You can have your license in 2-3 weeks. Having a business and learning how to be an advocate for your clients is a completely different story.

Common Myths About Real Estate Agents

As I began my career many moons ago, I realized I had bought into some common myths about real estate agents and I quickly learned the truth. Let's take a look: 1. "You are your own boss." Um...sort of. Yes, I am an Independent Contractor with Keller Williams Realty and no corporate big wig is telling me when or how to run my business. HOWEVER, real estate agents are in the customer service business and I have many "bosses" who I have to answer to: my client, the lender, the title company/closing attorney, the home inspector, the appraiser, and the agent on the other side of the deal. Trust me, someone is ALWAYS telling me something that I must do, usually in a very specific time period! 2. "You set your own hours." MAYBE. If you are new to real estate and really want to BUILD A BUSINESS, you have to put in the time. Period. Mark Cuban has said he worked for 7 years without ever taking a vacation. He also said, "work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a day to take it all away from you." There is absolute truth to this. I can guarantee you there is always another agent who is willing to do the things you are not willing to do. If you are okay with that and don't want a high level business, then, yes, you set your own hours and work when you want. However, if you want to build it like Cuban (in this instance maybe Corcoran) then you have to pay in full upfront. 3. "You must LOVE looking at houses all day long." No, no I don't. You see, I do love assisting buyers in finding their dream home or analyzing a sellers house so we can put our best foot forward and sell it right away. BUT, there is much more to real estate than looking at houses. As a matter of fact, that is just a TINY fraction of the job. In my opinion, the real work comes in writing contracts, negotiating, and coordinating all the elements that go into a sale. I view real estate like I am a flight controller, having to navigate the airspace so everyone gets to where they are going safely! (Side note: yes, it is cool to see how others live and to observe different types of architecture. But, for full disclosure, once you have seen as many homes as I have...well, they all start to look the same. Every now and again I will come across something I find truly special and get giddy about, but for the most part buyers are often looking for similar homes.) 4. "You must make a lot of money." Depends on your definition of a lot. Yes, there is no ceiling to your earning potential in real estate. It is all based on your effort. If you sell one house a year, I don't think many would consider that paycheck a lot. If you sell 100 homes a year, many would likely find your paycheck to be substantial. But, there is one thing to keep in mind: remember when I said to be successful you have to treat your real estate career as a business? Well, with a business comes EXPENSES. So, that $10,000 you see listed on a HUD1 for your agent's commission is not all theirs. First, their brokerage takes a cut. (Every brokerage has a different "split" so I can't give you any hard numbers on this) Second, you have to pay Uncle Sam. Third, you have to deduct your expenses, such as gas, advertising, marketing, MLS association dues, key dues, monthly office payments, and the list goes on and on. Don't get me wrong, one can make a wonderful living as a Richmond VA Realtor, if you are willing to put in the time and effort it takes.

I Want to Be a Realtor

If you are searching for a career change, I think real estate is a fabulous business to be in as long as you go in with your eyes wide open. There are real estate companies who will tell you whatever you want to hear just to get you in the door to collect your monthly dues. Then there are brokerages who want to invest in you with their top notch training if you are willing to bet on yourself as well. My intentions of writing this article was not to scare you, it was to inform you...just like I inform my clients of the home buying and selling process. I want to be upfront and honest so you are not blindsided your first day when no leads are given to you and you quickly have to learn to fish for yourself or starve. If you are interested in a career as a real estate agent, feel free to give me a call to discuss your options! I am happy to assist you in carving out your own piece of the pie in the Richmond VA real estate market!

The RVA Home Team with Keller Williams Realty

Shannon Milligan, a multi-million dollar top producing Richmond VA Realtor, is the President of the RVA Home Team. She holds a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams Realty Richmond West.  

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