When I began my third year of college, I started to think about my post-graduation path a lot more. With my entrepreneurial spirit, I knew I didn’t want to pursue a traditional 9-to-5 job. My dream career included being up on my feet, interacting with people, facing new challenges each day, and maybe even being my own boss.
While doing some career research, I stumbled across a few articles about the real estate industry. My father is a commercial real estate broker, so I approached him with some questions about the business. He shared his personal journey as a real estate professional and I was instantly hooked. We talked for hours about his experiences and stories. I quickly decided that after earning my college degree, I was going to become a real estate agent. So, how can a college student be a real estate agent? That was the big question I had to find the answer to.
Shortly after I made this decision, the whole world was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. My college campus transitioned to online classes, my county mandated stay-at-home orders, and I was suddenly stuck inside with nothing to do. After being quarantined for months, I was itching for productivity and excitement. In between virtual lectures and assignments, I decided to use my free-time to explore my potential real estate career a little more.
A college degree isn’t required to become a licensed real estate professional. To obtain a real estate license, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a social security number, complete a pre-licensing course, and pass the state exam. Since the education and testing could be done online, I asked myself: Why do I need to wait until I graduate to do this? Why not just do it now?
So, as a full-time college student, I started on my path to becoming a full-time real estate agent. I registered for Florida’s 63-hour pre-licensing course and got to work.
Getting Started In Real Estate
The self-paced online course contains 19 chapters of reading, quizzes, videos, and tests. I finished the class in about six months, which was a bit longer than I expected.
Honestly, I initially struggled to find a balance between my university course schedule and my real estate course. I had to learn how to properly divide my time and mental energy without putting too much pressure on myself. I dedicated specific days of each week to different tasks. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I would attend remote university classes and do school assignments. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would complete a chapter of my pre-licensing course. Creating this schedule gave me a productive routine to follow, and also allowed time for personal interests and breaks.
Eventually, I got the class done and made it to the hard part: the state exam.
Fortunately, being quarantined at home gave me lots of flexibility and time to study. You can take the state exam as many times as you want, so I knew it wouldn’t be a big deal if I didn’t pass the first time. However, I was ready to work my butt off and get that passing score. For the next few months, I spent nearly every free moment I had taking practice quizzes, attending virtual study sessions, and completing exam prep books. Sometimes, I had to remind myself to take a break and relax. Also, I had to make sure I was still putting equal effort into school duties.
In January 2021, I finally took the test. Due to being in virtual school for nearly a year, I was already accustomed to the online-administered exam. After all of my hard work, I successfully passed on the first try. I was so proud of myself for reaching my goal. It made me feel like I could do absolutely anything if I put enough work and time into it.
How Real Estate Works
Once you become licensed, the next step is to find a real estate brokerage to sign under. Real estate brokers hire licensees to work under them as sales agents. Agents are essentially independent contractors, meaning they are contracted to perform services for their broker, but are still considered self-employed. Real estate agents must seek out clients themselves and are only paid by commission. The broker will assist with contracts, transactions, funds, and take a small percentage of each commission check. You get to be your own boss, but still have the support of a broker.
This is when it started to get super real for me. At the time, the world was slowly beginning to re-open. My college campus was allowing in-person classes again, and quarantine orders had been fully lifted. I completed all the requirements need to become a real estate agent, and now I had to actually be one. I was ready to dive head-first into the business, but I also had doubts. I was scared potential clients wouldn’t want to hire a 22-year-old to sell their home. I was nervous about still struggling to balance school and my new career. Nevertheless, I kept moving forward.
I did lots of research and spoke with many local real estate brokers. Finding the right broker is a fundamental step for real estate agents. When you’re looking to join a brokerage, you’re essentially interviewing them. You should ask about training programs for new agents, commission splits, which transaction software they use, office culture, etc. Examples of brokerages include Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, Century21, and REMAX.
After I found the one, I was excited but extremely overwhelmed. To sum it up, here’s the hustle of a real estate agent:
- Lead generation: finding clients that want to buy or sell their home through social media engagement, cold calling, paid advertisements, personal referrals, door-knocking, etc.
- Client servicing: doing daily showings for buyers and putting sellers’ homes up on the market.
- Going under contract: making an offer on behalf of your buyer, or accepting an offer on behalf of your seller.
- Getting to closing: after buying or selling a home, closing on it can take up to a few months. This process involves conducting inspections, negotiating contract terms, conducting appraisals, approving home loans, working with mortgage officers, and more.
- Get the commission check!
Being A Real Estate Agent Now
In March, I reached my first real estate milestone. I was referred by a family friend to someone who wanted to sell their home, and they ended up hiring me. By April, I closed the sale and received my first commission check. The process was so much fun, and the pay-off was even better. It felt like all of my work and effort was worth it. I was so excited to be able to begin a career that I’m so passionate about.
I’ve been working as an agent for a few months and I’m still trying to navigate the industry. As I juggle my education and career, I’ve benefited greatly from time-blocking. At the beginning of each week, I’ll pull out my planner and block off chunks of time within each day. Some blocks are dedicated to classes and homework, and others are reserved for going to my office and building my business. I also always make sure to allow time for family, friends, health, and personal interests. It’s still a work in progress, and that’s totally okay.
My journey to becoming a full-time real estate agent as a full-time college student is ongoing, but I’ve already gained so much. I’ve proven to myself how capable I am of achieving my goals, and I’ve also learned about the importance of taking breaks and not being too hard on myself. This process has definitely made my college experience unconventional, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.