TL;DR – Not as shiok as you think it is. But yes, it’s indeed possible to make a 6-7 figure commission.
Wake at 11 am. Own time, own target. No bosses to breathe down your neck… Bliss. Being a real estate agent seems one of the best jobs around huh. You rule your day, have the freedom to work whenever or wherever you want, and can potentially earn up to six-digit commission. Unfortunately, as with everything in life, it’s not always rosy. Here are 8 things you didn’t know about the job of a real estate agent!
Money doesn’t drop from the sky. Invest – time, sweat, money – to play the game.
Psst, heard of that agent who’s driving a Porsche Taycan just one year into the job? Or the one who just got that property on District Ten? Nice motivation but really, don’t expect to make big money from the get-go. You probably need to invest before you can start playing the game. Thousands on fliers, online marketing and lead generation. If you are thinking of becoming a real estate agent and expecing business to land on your lap, think again. Many of the successful agents you see start from the bottom. Think door-to-door marketing, cold-calling. Basically, get out there and market yourself to get the business!
Fengshui matters, or not
“I love the unit, will come down with my cheque to secure tomorrow!” Clients can change their minds no matter what they say. I’ve heard clients backing out after many viewings with different family members just because the fengshui master was vehemently against them getting the unit. Anything from awkward corners, to the qi in the house, to the pillar outside the unit to the facing of the unit. Anything can happen at the last minute so, don’t count your eggs before they hatch!
The competition is STIFF…
As at 1 Jan 2021, there are 30,399 agents in Singapore. How many agents do you know? Well, I know at least 5 myself. Can you imagine the level of competition on both the buyer and seller sides? Why then should people go to you? Are you a people-person? Is your work ethic admirable? Are the type who can sell ice to an Eskimo? This is something you have to figure out very quickly. And word of advice, working hard doesn’t equal to working smart.
A king this month, pauper the next
In 2015, a real estate agent grabbed the headlines for a whooping $1.5 million commission after selling a penthouse for – listen to this – $51 million at Le Nouvel Ardmore! Yes, it happens. But it’s rather uncommon. There are months when you will be closing deals like nobody’s business and feasting like a king, and there will be painful months when you’ll have zero deals. Zilch. Eat grass, as they say. The key is to budget, budget, budget and save for rainy days. I know of agents who live like a king at times, and turn to driving Grab in their Mercedes when the downturn hits them. More common than you know, so really, this job is not for the fainthearted. Be warned, a stable income is really rare.
Own time, own target? Nah…
Many people think you can be a real estate agent part time, but to be truly successful and serve your clients effectively, you really need to put in the time and effort. Many have gone in thinking it’s easy money (6/7-digit commission in a single closing, possible, but rare). Unfortunately, often, they come in and fail because they weren’t committed enough. You’ve got to show up everyday, you’ve got to be generating leads everyday, you’ve got to be toiling and pushing everyday. That’s when you have a shot at it.
You will meet shady, unreasonable, sneaky clients – be they sellers or buyers.
While you have no bosses to butter up to, annoying clients are often the bane of the profession. Let’s not even talk about tenants who would call you any hour of the day to fix their toilet bowls, aircon etc… Unrealistic expectations on selling prices (sell my 4-room HDB flat at $1 million or else), asking to halve the commissions after the deal is closed, unscrupulous fellow agents… All these will get on your nerves. Rule of life: practise patience.
There is someone you can turn to – if you are from PropNex
Fellow agents being unethical, undercutting? Now, who can you raise your concerns with?
PropNex is the first real estate agency in Singapore to have a formalised framework with a labour union to better the welfare real estate salespersons. The Singapore Industrial and Services Employees’ Union (SISEU) is committed to helping the salespersons at PropNex, offering them guidance on their work concerns. The “PropNex Real Estate Salespersons Chapter” will also act as a platform to protect real estate salespersons, and as an avenue for them to voice their concerns. PropNex CEO Ismail Gafoor shared that the partnership is timely, just as the company nears its 10,000-salesperson mark.
At the end of the day, the work of a real estate agent can be very fulfilling.
While it can get frustrating at times, it can be surprisingly fulfilling when you help your clients get the house of their dreams. From solving a problem for a tenant, to a property inspection, to viewings that take you from rundown apartments to fancy-ass sprawling private properties that you didn’t even think existed in Singapore, to marketing for leads, the world of real estate can be a thrilling one!
Keen to try out? Note that the Council for Estate Agencies requires all new entrants to take a compulsory Real Estate Salesperson exam preparatory course before taking the respective examinations. Psst, list of CEA Approved Course Providers for the Real Estate Salesperson Course can be found here