Often times, people use the term “Realtor®” and “real estate agent” interchangeably — even in the industry! There is a distinct difference, though, and it’s pretty straightforward.
A real estate agent simply refers to someone who is licensed as a real estate salesperson through their state. All states require licensed agents to take courses and pass an examination. Once you become a real estate agent, you are eligible to join the National Association of Realtors® and become a Realtor®.
Realtor® is a trademarked (and capitalized!) word reserved exclusively for members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). NAR is the largest trade association in the United States, and it requires an additional “Code of Ethics” for members to follow. It also requires that members be actively working in the industry and have no official sanctions for unprofessional conduct. The vast majority of real estate agents are Realtors®, including all EveryHome agents.
If you’re thinking about becoming a real estate agent, you’ve probably been reading quite a bit online or talking to family and friends about the decision. And, like with many industries, there are a lot of myths out there!
In regards to the process of becoming a real estate agent, there are a couple of misconceptions. In Pennsylvania, you’re required to take two courses – they’re each 30 hours, and they can be completed online or in a classroom. You’ll also have to take (and pass!) a couple of formal exams, and submit paperwork to the state. Generally speaking, the fees for the necessary courses, exams, and documentation are a little under $1,000.
Another thing that isn’t entirely intuitive to brand new agents is that in order to actually sell real estate and be a licensed salesperson in PA, you must be signed to a real estate agency with a broker. An agent may be licensed to only one agency at a time. Some folks want to open up their own agency and work for themselves right out of the gate, but unfortunately this requires a broker, and you can’t become a broker without first becoming a real estate agent.
It’s also important to keep in mind as you prepare for your new career that it isn’t easy to predict your income as an agent. Nearly all agents are paid entirely by commission, so the sky is the limit, but many agents report that it can take about 3-6 months of work in order to really get your feet under you.
Similarly, commission numbers aren’t set in stone, both in regards to how clients pay the broker, and also how the broker splits the percentage with you. Every agency offers a different commission structure. Some are much better than others, so be sure to shop around and get a sense of what it’s like in your area! In addition to the commission splits, many agencies have hidden costs, like desk fees, mentor fees, or make you pay for your E&O insurance. Be sure to ask about the entire breakdown of costs and fees, because this can really add up.
At EveryHome, we’re pleased to offer highly competitive splits with our agents, plus there are no fees whatsoever. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming an agent, or what it’s like to work at EveryHome, be sure to give us a call or shoot us an email. As we expand throughout the region, we’re always looking for friendly, helpful people to join our team.
EveryHome agent and resident home-flipping guru Jen Kuznits has enjoyed a lot of success flipping homes alongside her husband, Tamir. But it’s a tough industry, and not every home is a slam dunk! Here, Jen shares a few things that she wishes she would have known:
We once bought a ‘3 bedroom 2 full bathroom’ condo in Philadelphia. We bought it for $197,000. Everything indicated that after putting in a new kitchen, bathrooms, flooring and paint, we could sell if for just under $400,000. Turns out, someone had subdivided all the larger condos, and it wasn’t reflected in the public records. As a result, we ended up with a 1 bedroom, 1 full bathroom space. Thankfully, it had been recently renovated, but that was the first time we lost money on a deal. We sold it for $205,000, but after taxes, and Realtor fees, we took a hit.
When buying at sheriff sale, or auction, you typically don’t have access to the property. You can look up neighborhood comparables, you can see the exterior and the kind of condition it was kept in, and you can also see the public records. Typically, public records is correct… but not always!
Another tip is to always keep an eye on the neighbors. Even if you purchase in a great neighborhood, there’s always the chance that one or two of the neighbors have unkept landscaping. One time, we purchased in a nice community and the home had the square footage to command a high price, but two of the neighbors were eyesores. One was just overgrown and dirty, and the other neighbor had an old junked-up car on display. We figured a new gourmet kitchen would outshine their yards, but it didn’t. We still made money, but had to lower our price significantly.
To say that we’re lucky to have Colleen Whitlock on the EveryHome team is an understatement! While she just joined our team earlier this year, she has a varied real estate background including experience in home staging. She’s already represented a number of buyers and sellers with EveryHome, and we look forward to her continued success in Delaware County. Her enthusiasm, creative ideas, and dedication to her clients makes Colleen an excellent agent — and here’s why she chose EveryHome:
“I came to work with EveryHome in April 2016. I never imagined myself as a realtor and fell into the profession in 2015 while working in a real estate related industry. After a short stint with a large brokerage I just wasn’t “drinking the koolaid” and decided to find a place to hang my license that was more my culture.
I went and spoke with several, large brokerages and was starting to lose faith in my decision to practice real estate full time when an EveryHome Agent suggested I give Katie a call. After my initial meeting at “the ranch” I felt like I had found a company who’s visions where in line with mine. I could not be happier to be an agent at EveryHome and consider it one of the best decisions of my professional career.”