Why Do People Start a Real Estate Career?

Laura BurgardFew people know that I bought my first real estate brokerage at age 26. That’s sort of an anomaly, especially for a woman back in 1978. It’s even odder today because there are so few young people in real estate. Why, according to the National Association of REALTORS, the median age of a real estate agent today is 57. I imagine, however, that due to the troubled state of our economy, that median age is about to change.

Why do people start a real estate career? I’ll tell you why but agents aren’t gonna like it. They go into real estate because they can’t get a job doing anything else. That’s the truth. They are misfits. They either can’t conform to the outside workplace or else they can’t get a job.

It used to be mostly the rebels who sought out real estate careers, because in the 1970s, an agent didn’t need even a high school education. It was only over the past dozen years or so that education requirements for brokers were put into place. Today, to get a real estate license in California, apart from passing an examination, applicants must also complete a series of 3 real estate classes and be fingerprinted / checked by the F.B.I. As long as a person doesn’t have an arrest record (and there’s some question about that), just about anybody can get a real estate license.

I came into the business because I was already had a real estate career as an escrow officer. I was swamped revamping deals by helping agents salvage their blown-up transactions due to 18%-and-rising interest rates when I suddenly realized I was on the wrong side of the business. On top of this, I had completed real estate and escrow courses, carrying 20 credits a year, through a community college in Orange County, California, while working full-time at a title company. Not your normal Sacramento real estate agent entry to the business.

But today, we have a wide spread of unemployed people, kids graduating from college who can’t find a job, no matter what. Kids struggling to make it through college who can’t graduate because they can’t get into the necessary classes. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the over-50 group getting laid off. Companies can hire cheaper labor if they can dump expensive overhead. There is little loyalty between employees and corporations. It seems that the majority of people employed full-time are those in-between the 20-year-olds and 50-year-olds.

This means we’ve got this huge group of young people and all of us older people who can’t find work. I see that Warren Buffet is concentrating on young people, trying to pull them into the business. That’s a smart move. That’s what I’m telling my niece to do. Go into real estate. Start a real estate career. She might find that she has a passion for the business. She’s outgoing, personable, smart and hard-working. She seems to gain considerable personal satisfaction from helping other people.

The money is nothing to sneeze at, either.

You hear that, Laura?

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