Is being a part time agent still viable?

I ask this question because recently I have been putting in 12 hour days for six and seven days a week over the last four months.  I could probably cut back on a couple of areas that are not as meaningful to the day-to-day business of real estate.  But I don’t believe I could hold down another job or scale back my hours to a part time effort without seriously decreasing my level of competence and expertise.  So I wonder, what areas of the business do part-time agents and people that use real estate to make a little money on the side cut back on or eliminate all together?

I am not saying that it wasn’t possible in the immediate past to be a part-time agent.  Two or three years ago, the inventory levels were low and homes stayed on the market such a short period of time, most agents didn’t have an opportunity to preview the marketplace and learn about the inventory.  It took two days to see everything that was for sale.  When I began selling homes in 2003, there were 35 homes for sale in my immediate farm area of Ashburn.  This morning there are 435.  Today, I spend about eight to 10 hours a week just following inventory and sales so that I can keep up with what is happening in the marketplace.

Short-sales, foreclosures, auctions, REO, asset managers, deed-in-lieu, third party approvals, special warranty deeds, etc, etc.  These are all topics of discussion and areas of confusion and concern for real estate professionals as well as the buying and selling public. These topics were non-issues just 18 months ago, but now I spend countless hours a week learning and researching how these things will affect my clients and myself.  I think I spend more time than most on trying to learn about these latest trends that are affecting the real estate industry and each day I learn something new that helps me better navigate my clients.

Add these two areas that take up a large chunk of time every week on top of marketing, lead conversion, referral networking, online advertising, appointments, showings, paperwork, continuing education, association participation and anything else I left out.  I just can’t see being a part-time agent without seriously diminishing my effectiveness and my professionalism.  That isn’t to say that someone couldn’t sell real estate part-time but I believe their other vocational endeavors would have to be an offshoot of the real estate industry.

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10 Responses to Is being a part time agent still viable?

  1. Jeremy Hart says:

    I don’t see how either, Tony. I know that in our own office of ~ 50 agents, the part-time agents are doing no business, where in years past – and even as late as last year – we’d see a deal a month from them.

    It’s a good question – I wonder if anyone reading VARBuzz is a part-time agent and can talk about how they’ve adjusted their business and stayed on top of things.

  2. Jim Rake says:

    Unless they’ve got a heck of niche, I’d have to agree Tony. The dividend for us “full timers” is the opportunity and necessity of broadening our knowledge and experience base. As you said, “I spend more time than most on trying to learn about these latest trends that are affecting the real estate industry and each day I learn something new that helps me better navigate my clients.” While blogs serve many purposes, perhaps their true value is in the education they provide.

  3. Scott Rogers says:

    My guess…

    1. Most part time agents aren’t spending time keeping up with the market trends or industry trends.

    2. Out of these: “marketing, lead conversion, referral networking, online advertising, appointments, showings, paperwork, continuing education, association participation” most part time agents are probably only doing a little each of: marketing, appointments, showings, paperwork.

    I think an agent CAN sell real estate part time, and CAN well represent their clients in doing so, BUT most who engage in the business full time are MUCH more prepared to represent buyers and sellers (and vice versa). Perhaps this has always been the case?

    I too hope that some part-time agents are reading, and can add their perspective…

  4. Matt Wilkins says:

    I personally think the only way for a part-time agent to sruvive in the business and give the best service to their clients is to work with a full time agent/broker so their clients can have someone to work with if the part-time agent simply runs out of time.

    In the almost six years I have been in the busines I am seeing more and more brokers preferring or only hiring full time agents. I ocmpletely agre with this move.

    Most of my clients ask me at the beginning if I am a full time professional. The question we all need to keep in mind is “Do we really want to place what may be our largest invesment in the hands of someone who is doing it just because they need extra income or need osmething to keep them ocupied?”.

  5. Cindy Jones says:

    I can’t imagine keeping up with all of the changes in our current market on a part time basis. I have no issue with part time agents as long as they handle their part of the transaction and don’t ask me to do both of our jobs.

  6. Claude Labbe says:

    It seems that being a part-time agent can work for agents in very particular situations. For instance, the spouse of a full time Realtor who forms a junior member of the “Team”.

    Or a schoolteacher during the year, and Realtor during the summer.

    But as in any situation with someone holding 2 jobs or moving into a new profession, it’s got to be a tremendous drain on energy, and at some point, something’s gotta give — I would fear at times the something would be at the expense of the transaction or the other players in the transasction.

  7. Tony Arko says:

    I agree Claude. Those are two situations that part-time could work and customers and our reputations would not be affected in the negative.

  8. Agreed, part time agents – or dual career agents -can’t possibly stay on top of things. It’s crazy trying to if you’re full time! Having said that, with sales prices down and expenses up, I am starting to wonder how we’ll STAY in business without getting another income! Even if you’re doing just as much business, your income is less than before. You must do twice the business for the same money now. But, it is much more interesting now.

  9. I agree. I can’t see how part-time agents can possibly keep up with the trends that require knowledge & experience to represent our clients on a fiduciary level. As a matter of fact, I just acquired a new client who had been represented by a part-time agent years ago in another state & who swore they’d never use a part-time agent again; citing a lack of up-to-date knowledge of the market, poor response time & feedback, among other things. It’s hard enough for us full-timers to keep up sometimes, so, I can’t imagine doing this part-time.

    I wonder if NAR/VAR/etc. will ever regulate that more so that the bad rap a PT agent can sometimes give ALL agents might be thwarted in the long run? It’s amazing how the public will sometimes dub ALL agents based upon one lousy experience (I know that often times it’s just easy to point the finger at the Realtor rather than the circumstances we don’t have any control over). I mean, what would happen if a new regulation was placed on us (sorry, like we need any more, ugh!) that said we can’t have another “job” that takes up say more than 10 hours a week or we have to work at least 40 hours a week on real estate (probably impossible to regulate)? I dunno. Thanks for letting me rant a little & think aloud.

  10. Brian Buffini had started a movement to get NAR to only give the REALTOR designation to full time agents. I think it can be monitored easily based on the number of deals completed in a licensing period.

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