The Job


Real Estate as a Career in BC: The Pros and Cons

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Yes, real estate can be good career. In fact, it can be a great career.

You can get into the profession without needing a lot of formal education or time commitment. You can make a whole bunch of money. You can work a flexible schedule (great for us folks who aren't early risers.) You can "be your own boss." You can meet lots of interesting and nice people. And, you can get a lot of satisfaction, and thanks, by helping people buy or sell a home.

But, there are also some not so good aspects to the profession.

You can get calls, emails or texts anytime of the day, or night. You often have to work a lot of week-ends. You may put in a lot of time, and money, on a potential deal, only to have it fall apart. You may find it challenging to work on your own and motivate yourself to get new business. You may have difficult clients. And, you may not make any money.

Let's take a closer look at some of the good, and the not so good, aspects to real estate as a career.

Real Estate has a low barrier to entry

The Pros:Real estate is known for having a "low barrier to entry." Basically that means it doesn't require a great deal of money, time or formal education to get your real estate license and start your own business. In less than one year, you can become a licensed real estate agent in BC. The cost to get your real estate license is also relatively affordable. For about $5,700 you will have covered off the costs for the required education, licensing fees and real estate boards fees. There are also additional costs required to start-up your business, like marketing and advertising, plus brokerage fees. But when you compare real estate to other businesses, the start-up costs for a real estate business are not nearly as high.

Real estate can also be done at pretty much any age. In fact, according to the Real Estate Council of BC, the demographic make-up of people who obtained their real estate trading services license in 2017 ranged anywhere from 18 to 69 years of age. You can pursue it as full-time career or as a part-time endeavor to supplement your old-age security or another full-time job.

The Cons:There are lots of real estate agents in BC! Real estate is a very competitive industry in British Columbia with about 20,180 people employed as a real estate agent and salesperson in 2018. The supply of real estate agents doesn't necessarily equal demand, particularly when market conditions slow down and the number of home sales declines.

According to the Real Estate Council of BC, they issued 2,098 new real estate trading services licenses in 2017. The BC Labour Market Outlook: 2018 Edition forecasts that there will be 7,100 job openings for real estate agents and salespersons over the next ten years (2018-2028).

If we look at the forecast for job openings in real estate over the next ten years - which is 7,100 jobs - and the number of people who obtain a new real estate license each year (based on 2017 figures it was 2,098 licenses), then there will be an oversupply of real estate agents in the province.

BC Real Estate Council Annual Report 2018

Real Estate allows you to earn unlimited income

The Pros: As a real estate agent, you can make as much money as the time, and money, you invest. Your income isn't limited by an hourly wage or a corporate-dictated salary range. According to the BC Labour Market Outlook: 2018 Edition, the average salary for a real estate agent in 2017 ranged from a low of $23,016 annually to a high of $103,667. Some of the more successful real estate agents in in BC have earned considerably more than that.

Source: BC Labour Market Outlook 2018 Edition

The Cons: Real estate is typically 100% commission based. That means you will only make money when you get a listing and sell a home, or when you help a buyer purchase a home. You may not like not having a stable and regular income. And, when you are first starting out in your career, you may not make any money and may even have a negative cash-flow. The amount of money you make also ebbs and flows depending on local real estate market conditions. It can be feast or famine.

Real Estate allows you to have a flexible schedule

The Pros:You can start work anytime you like and work as little - or as much - as you want. As a real estate agent, you are essentially an entrepreneur. Although you work under the guidance and supervision of a managing broker, you are typically in charge of your own destiny. This type of freedom works well for some people who are self-motived and able to manage their own time effectively. It's basically like running your own business.

The Cons:You are basically running your own business and need to think and act like an entrepreneur. You will need to market yourself to get clients and business. You will often have to work week-ends since that is typically when open houses are held and when buyers are available to have properties shown to them. You may end up getting calls from clients any time of the day, or night. When you are negotiating a deal, you may have to cancel plans. Many real estate agents do not understand that to be successful, it takes a lot of time and hard work.

Real Estate is a rewarding career

The Pros: Many real estate agents derive a great deal of satisfaction from helping their clients. It's a great career if you enjoy working with people and have good communications, research, sales and marketing skills. There is also a lot of variety to the job since every home is different, and every client is different. Some real estate agents become lifelong friends with the clients they help. Plus, you have the freedom to develop your own unique brand to market and sell yourself.

The Cons: Buying a home, or selling a home, is one of the stressful times of a client's life. Not every client will be easy, or enjoyable, to work with and for. Sometimes you will end up spending time, and money, on a listing and not be able to sell a clients' home due to unrealistic expectations on their part (e.g. they want more money for the home than current market conditions warrant). You may have to take a buyer out to look at 100 or more homes before they find the one they want to purchase. Real estate takes a lot of time and hard work in order to be successful.