|Real estate agents: Sink or swim
in tougher waters
Marguleas researched the number of hours it takes to become a licensed real estate agent, which varies by state. In California, he says, getting a license calls for a 45-hour class. Nationwide, the requirements range from a low of 24 hours in Massachusetts to a high of 120 hours in Ohio, according to ARELLO. He says it takes 9,000 hours to become a doctor and 1,600 hours to become a cosmetologist.
"To dye someone's hair it takes 20 times more studying than to help someone sell the largest investment of their life," he says.
"Real estate agents typically get ranked right
around used-car salesmen. The bar is so low to get a real estate
license," says Marguleas, who operates in a high-end market
in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and has been in the real estate business
for 15 years. "I would love to make it as hard as it is to
become a doctor or lawyer to raise the professionalism. So many
people who do this are part-time and not very knowledgeable about
what they're doing. It's why consumers have such a poor image of
real estate agents."
Many people who enter the profession don't realize
the amount of work it requires -- including negotiating high-dollar
contracts and being on call during evenings and weekends, he says.
"They may be better off managing a fast-food
restaurant, making more money," says Marguleas, whose five
agents have an average of 10 years' experience and typically make
$200,000 per year.
Not an easy way to make a living
J. Andrew Hansz, whose own credentials include the prestigious Chartered
Financial Analyst designation and a Ph.D. in real estate, has taught
graduate-level real estate classes at the University of Texas in
Arlington since 1999.
He says he's seen an uptick in the number of students
seeking out the program and the number of companies seeking out
"This summer we had more companies contact us
for interns than we had students to provide them. My first graduate
class in the fall of 1999 had three students; now the typical graduate
class has about 15 to 20 students."
Hansz says the cyclical nature of real estate may
thin out the herds of agents. "A lot of people flood in when
times are good, and a lot of people flood out when times are bad.
When the market isn't booming, there isn't a lot of money to be
made. A lot of agents make very little money, and for a lot of them
it's a second or third job or they're semi-retired. Others hold
it as a credential," says Hansz, who has a Texas real estate
broker's license to add to his own credentials. "Students listen
to me since I hold the license they're pursuing."
However, Hansz is optimistic about people entering
the industry now.
"This is a good time to learn," Hansz says.
"You don't want to start when business is booming, because
once you get up and started the boom is over."
"It's a tough, tough job to make a living at,"
he says. "The people who succeed are happy, healthy and wealthy.
With sales down, the pie will get smaller. It will be harder for
newer agents to arrive or maintain their income."
You can read more about what
it takes to become a real estate agent.