Selling Soulfully with Jennifer Allan


Aspiring Real Estate Agents - Can't Go Full-Time Yet? Consider this...

Whether or not a new agent can succeed in this business starting out part time is a topic of much debate all over the world of real estate online forums. Rookies ask... Old Fogies answer... and the discussion usually deteriorates into a p*ssing contest between the two camps. I've written extensively on the topic and I have no problem declaring which side I fall on... I believe that this biz is tough enough to get started in debatewithout making it even harder by hitting it with only half (or less) of your time, energy and focus. So, in case that wasn't clear, I think a new agent oughta do it full-time, or not at all.

Oh, yes, I know the arguments... the main one is "But I can't AFFORD to give up my regular paycheck yet; I NEED to keep my job to pay my bills!" Others claim to know someone who managed to survive working only nights and weekends, or fitting in real estate around their "real" job.

Fair enough. My goal here is not to open that tired old can of worms yet again. You have your opinion; I have mine, she has hers and he has his.

But the fact remains that most rookies fail in their real estate venture. MOST. Even the ones who think they'll be the exception. Obviously, MOST won't be.

I hope it's a fair statement to say that if you want to succeed in a business, you'll have a better chance of doing so if you give it MORE effort than LESS effort - can we agree on that? Therefore, the ideal situation for new agents is to be able to go full-time, right from the start, right?

If we can agree on that, then how about this? If you're cool with the idea of working your backside off on two jobs (your "real" job + your new real estate career), why not keep your day job and go get a second job that actually PAYS your money instead of COSTS you money? For six months, a year, whatever it takes to save up a nice nest-egg that will enable you to pursue your dream of being a wildly successful (full-time) real estate agent. Tend bar, deliver pizza, clean houses, tutor, mow lawns... whatever you can do in your spare time to generate some spare cash to sock away.

I promise you, this business is a whole lot more fun when you're not freaked out about your next mortgage payment or exhausted from trying to start a new business after a long day's work.  Those six months will fly by, and if you're lucky, maybe the real estate market will improve by then!





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The More Fun You Have Selling Real Estate, the More Real Estate You Will Sell! 
(True Story)
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Comment balloon 31 commentsJennifer Allan-Hagedorn • September 02 2008 10:11AM


I think that's good advice, build up a nest egg before you start. In addition, maybe it would help for them to make their debut a couple months before the spring market takes off, so they can get some systems in place and learn the paperwork and be ready to take off when the season opens.

Posted by Retired Notworking over 9 years ago

Part time will not work.  A lot of people expect an immediate response - especially in this market.  It's hard enough to try to plan things out doing it full time.

Posted by Jim Curry (Long & Foster) over 9 years ago

Hi Jennifer!  I thought I had a substantial amount saved up when I quit my regular paycheck.  The thing nobody explained to me was how much money I was going to be spending, so I went through it much faster than expected.  You are right, it is hard to enjoy anything when you are consumed with worry about money!  You just don't need that drain on your positive attitude.

Ann Allen Birmingham Realtor

Posted by Ann Allen Hoover, CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL (RE/MAX Advantage South) over 9 years ago

Jennifer, this is the advice that we would give as well. It seems that many new agents do not do their homework to find out all of the costs that you need to pay to actually work and get a paycheck.  

Posted by Patty Carroll over 9 years ago

Hello Jennifer,

I respectfully disagree with your advice of getting a second job for added income to build that nest egg.  Even if your doing real estate part time, like I am, you are still learning about the business.  If you put off learning about the real estate business for 6 more months while you build a nest egg, then you will be that far behind on your own personal development.

There are ways people can succeed part time, without having to sacrifice client service.  For instance, the brokerage that accepted me as a part timer, with the intent of eventually going full time, has a system in place where you can team up with other agents and split the commissions with each other.

For example, I already have certain leads coming in, and I believe that my best role will be as a lead generator.  If I can share the qualified leads with another agent, this agent would more than likely be happy to help me show the properties to these individuals.

When you say you can't do something, you shut your mind off to the creativity that is within all of us to find a solution that works.  My opinion is that it doesn't matter if you are full time or part time, if you fail at one, you would fail at the other.

Kind Regards,


Posted by Manolis "Manny" Sfinarolakis (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

However you do it, make sure you have some money to put into the business. I think the biggest shock is how much it cost just to get started.  The first year, I would guess between $3000 - $5000 just to start out with all the stuff you have to buy.  If you do not have a nest egg, or other income to pay the bills, PLUS this money to get started, failure is closer than you might think.

Posted by Brian Wray (Wray Realty) over 9 years ago

Well, it is kinda hard to discuss. When I started Real Estate 7 yrs ago, my full intention was to start part-time. I did it for 2 weeks and then went full time because i was so busy with work and clients that I did not have time for my real full time job. The good thing that happened was that my job who I was with 10 yrs, laid me off after having my license for 2 weeks, so I did not have a choice but to go forward.

Well the outcome was that I won Rookie of the Year and Salesman of Year the following year and we were in a foreclosed market like everyone else was going through, now. So, my suggestion is to go with your heart and try it or do it when your ready.

Good luck and best wishes.

Posted by Victor Montalvo Bilingual Realtor Sí, hablo español (Exit Realty Associates) over 9 years ago

Victor - well, very belated congratulations!

Brian - Yep - and it's really stressful when you can't afford to get the stuff you really need to be productive... although selling real estate is probably one of the cheapest small businesses to get into... but it ain't free!

Manolis - I don't think this is the first time we've respectfully disagreed with each other! No worries!

Patty & Scott - you gotta admire their optimism and enthusiasm - but a dose of reality is pretty important too.

Ann - BINGO!

Jim - no kidding! My first year everything I did took 5 times longer than it should have...

Colleen - that's a wonderful point.... thanks!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago

I love the fact that you gave some alternatives to keeping the "wolf" from the door, while starting a real estate business.    No doubt, it is tough!     I agree, though, that if you're "in" the biz, you need to be doing it full time.    

Posted by Li Read, Caring expertise...knowledge for you! (Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring)) over 9 years ago

I'm in my second year and am part time. Something that irritates me is how some things I try to get involved in require me to have at least two years experience. I work with a Prudential office and I am not able to get into some of the relocation work because I'm still new. Some REO companies I've talked with have the same requirements.

I think everyone's situation is different. Most agents I'm familar with are retired from a previous career or have a spouse that pays the bills. Many already own a successfull business and begin selling homes because they think it's a status symbol or take advantage of their network.

I don't really think it matters too much as long as they can give good customer service and take it seriously. Some of the full timers I know just sit their clients down and tell them to sign here and there and don't explain anything. Other full time agents hound people to death. Clients don't like that sort of agent.

Posted by Bill Dunn (Elite Realty Group) over 9 years ago

Hi Jennifer.  This is the first time I have disagreed with you.  Respectfully. :)


Posted by Ken Tracy, Helping clients buy and sell since 2005 (Keller Williams Realty Infinity) over 9 years ago

This is an interesting discussion.  We are running into part time vs full time at our office.  Right now the main problem seems to be that we have agents who want to do it full time, but won't even commit to doing part time hours to get their business going. 

Posted by Kim Peasley-Parker (AgentOwned Realty, Heritage Group, Inc.) over 9 years ago

what's the number 1 reason most business ventures fail in America? Lack of Capitol. You provided an idea worth thinking about.

Posted by Rick Trowe, Go With Trowe (Cerium Learning) over 9 years ago

While I am sure there are plenty of agents out there with anecdotal evidence that one can succeed part time, what annoys me to NO end is the justifications you hear from part time agents:  "I cannot afford to go full time, I need full time income coming in," etc. etc.  The rationale is always AGENT-CENTRIC and I feel that is just wrong.  We are in a service industry;  we should be focusing on what is best for the client.

I also hear part time agents who justify their keeping their day jobs by saying, "It's not a problem.  I can answer phone calls and pull up the MLS at my day job."  I always wonder how their employers feel about their not doing their best at THAT job, either! 

Part time agents who are not accessible during the day or who take forever to return paperwork also make it difficult for the co-oping agent, which is inherently unfair.  I have been on the other side of deals with part time agents and I have yet to meet one that has impressed me with their market knowledge, understanding of the contract or ability to meet deadlines. 

Yes, yes, yes, I know, there are full timers who don't take it seriously, don't return phone calls, blah, blah, blah.  And they are equally annoying, but that is a disingenuous argument at best.  The existence of incompetant full time agents is simply not a good justification for an agent to be part time.  

Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 9 years ago

Dead-on, Susan... and to add to your brilliance, the fact that someone can't afford to be full-time is so NOT relevant to the requirements of the job... I mean, I have lots of dreams that I can't (yet) afford to make come true; just cause I have a dream doesn't entitle me to it.

Something I should "disclose." As a full-time writer and trainer, I am a part-time agent, no question about it, so my comments are specifically for rookies and pre-rookies who are wondering if they can SURVIVE their first year by doing it part time. But once your  systems are in place and your repeat and referral business kicks in, this job doesn't have to take anywhere close to 40 hours a week. However, it's still vital to be available during the work week and to be able to serve your clients as your first priority. It just doesn't take nearly as many hours to do that once you know what you're doing! My first year... and second... and third? I worked at least 60 hours a week.

Funny, I just noticed I lost a few subscribers after posting this blog... d'ya think I annoyed a few people?


Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago

Hi Jennifer,

Part time is no time. This business is full time service.  Not 24/7 for sure, but full time nonetheless. Being financially prepared is the only advise to give and follow. Not just in Real Estate, but any business venture that one wants to make a go of.

If you lost some subscribers, their focus was too narrow for you anyway.

Posted by Harold "Hal" Place (A1 Connection Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Jennifer, I read this advice in your excellent new book "Sell with Soul II" and found it to be very good and sound advice. It really makes sense. Of course few will take it because they want to make the big bucks NOW!!!

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) over 9 years ago

BB -  Too bad most would probably make bigger bucks delivering pizza than (not) selling real estate!

Hal - It seems so obvious, doesn't it? One of those things that baffles me as to how there can even be an argument...

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago


 Great post and you're right.  I actually turned down a job when I first started (about 6 months ago) offering 50k a year.  honest.   I told them I have a job, real estate, (after my wife and one of my best friends recovered from the news, they understood). 

 I dedicated doing this full time because I knew I could.  Am I making 50k?  uh... no, will I?  You better believe it.  I'm focused, positive and I know me and real estate were made for each other.

 Great post.

Posted by Frank Bailey Sr. (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

good post Jennifer-

Real Estate is our only source of income and there's two of us (actually, we just took on a "side" business that we're building in the evenings and as time allows). But from the beginning, we both knew that it would take a serious committment if we were going to succeed, and thank God we have. There are challenges but overall, I can't imagine doing this part-time. Woudn't work.

Posted by Chris and Maria Jeantet, Redding CA Real Estate Couple (Coldwell Banker C&C Properties) over 9 years ago

A bit off topic (well, maybe not so much ):  Your books arrived yesterday and I cannot wait for the day to begin to deliver them to the friends I ordered them for.  

I started out part time, although between the 2 careers I actually worked 80-90 hours per week.  Slowly I reduced my "day" job until I was only going in to the office once a week to help them transition to someone new.

If I didn't put in the hours and the committment in the very beginning I don't think I'd be here to write to you today.   Simply working weekends only, or some such part time schedule at real estate would have left me feeling overwhelmed by it all.   My opinion only, everyone elses mileage may vary.

Posted by Kris Wales, Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI (Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center) over 9 years ago

Great advice Jennifer. I might have to actually buy your book!

Posted by Michael Sahlman, e-PRO - Miami Beach Florida Luxury Homes ( - Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago

Great idea Jennifer!  If you have to work two jobs they should both be paying jobs and the first few months of real estate can be rough without back up funds. 

Posted by Paddy (Patricia) Pizappi, Real Estate Associate Broker Hudson Valley NY (Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty) over 9 years ago

Paddy - Makes sense, doesn't it??

Michael - Oh, maybe someday!

Kris - I"m glad the books arrived safely! I'm too darn old to work 80-90 hours a week (at least for more than one week at a time), but you're right - that's pretty much what it's gonna take to make it happen...

Chris & Maria - I agree. At least - I don't think you can be great hitting it only part-time. But perhaps mediocre (which is everyone's ultimate goal, right?)

Frank - I see big things ahead for you... way bigger than $50k!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago

Good advice. I believe that if someone wants it bad enough, he/ she will make the savings happen. It is a VERY EASY task to do - saving, if we just identify our needs and our wishes.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co.) over 9 years ago

We have all been there ... but I agree jump in fully ... it will pay off!

Posted by Pippa Mac, The Woodlands TX Real Estate (Chevaux Group Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring) over 9 years ago

You always need a nest egg.  Whether starting out or being in it for any length of time.  It's feast or famine so be sure you put something away during the feast.

Posted by Donna Yates, Blue Ridge Mountains (BHGRE - Metro Brokers) over 9 years ago

Great Blog!! I'm trying to get started right now, and you have to use all your TIME!!!


Posted by Andy Laughlin ( over 9 years ago

I have to agree with you on this - I've seen it over and over.  This business is too tough every single day not to have your whole attention on it.

Posted by Hope Goss, Ventura Real Estate (Ventura Property Shoppe) over 9 years ago


I agree, and certainly understand the needs of having a ready paycheck.

As a new full-time agent in the office, I certainly agree. We have a few part time agents, and they are good professional people, but due to certain reasons, they are often unavailable. OFTEN.

As pointed out, this is a service oriented business that revolves  around "customers" and more importantly, clients...if you can't commit to the customer as a hint at your level of commitment to a client relationship, How can you build any lasting relationship down the road? If you cannot invest the time, you probably need to wait. The time spent results in the funding you need to pay back your initial outlay.

Before you jump, talk to a full-timer you know and respect on a personal level.

Posted by Bill Saunders, Realtor®, (Meyers Realty) about 9 years ago
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