Part-Time Real Estate Agents… A Career Or Just A Hobby?

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A career in real estate can be as flexible or as demanding as you wish. You can also do it in your spare time if you’re looking for a flexible second job. While that may work well for the agent, it doesn’t bode well for the unfortunate homeowner that is paying full price for a part-time service. Part-time agents don’t perform as well as agents that devote their entire careers towards real estate. They simply don’t have the time to devote to selling your house like a full-time agent would. So, when you interview your next real estate agent, make sure that this agent does real estate full-time. If you don’t, your house may sit on the market for a long time.

Why You Shouldn’t Hire A Part-Time Agent To Sell Your House

  • If an agent is only working as an agent part of the time, then they’re only selling your house part of the time. If they have multiple listings, the time they devote to your house may be even less. While they’re at their primary job, their focus is not on you, your house, or on talking to potential buyers about your house. Part-time agents may be spreading themselves too thin between their main job and their real estate career.
  • The question you have to ask a part-time real estate agent is “why are you only working part-time?” If they are transitioning into a career in real estate from their current career, then you may get better service than you would a part-time real estate agent who is just looking for something to do to provide a little extra money. If your real estate agent is only in the business to just get a little spending money then their motivation to sell your house will be low, if any.
  • Is this a part-time career or just a hobby to do in their spare time? You don’t want to hire an agent that only wants to “play” agent on the weekends or is looking for an excuse to go look at homes for fun. This is not the motivation needed to sell your house in a timely and productive manner. The longer your house sits on the market, the lower your sales price becomes.
  • If a part-time agent doesn’t want to put a lot of time into a career in real estate, then how much time do you think they’ll spend acquiring additional training and education to improve their real estate selling knowledge?
  • Part-time agents have a limited amount of time available to setup appointments for showings, open houses or to attend closings, appraisals or inspections. An agent needs to be at all of these events to ensure a successful closing. Most things occur during regular work hours and if that agent is at work in a non-agent, full-time job, then they can’t possibly be at your house to represent your interests. If you’re a buyer, and signed a buyer’s representation agreement with a part-time agent then you are limiting yourself to their confined schedule. This could limit you and your agent to looking at homes only on the weekends. You can also bet that your part-time agent will only be taking their buyers to your house during the weekend too. What about the other five days?
  • The worst part is that even though you’ll have all the limitations I mentioned, you’ll still pay the full commission amount. Why would you pay a full price for part-time work?

My Advice To Part-Time Real Estate Agents

  • Either create and follow a plan to make real estate a full-time career or do something else. Don’t dabble in our industry. It’s a career not a hobby and should be treated as such. Create a long-range plan to become an agent and start saving up money that you can live on until your commission checks start coming. To be safe, you should save up enough money to live off of for 4-6 months. In the meantime, start taking real estate classes and the real estate exam so that you can become a licensed agent on day one of your future career.
  • If you’re only interested in doing this as a hobby or a time-filler then for heaven’s sake, do not represent a buyer client or take on a listing client. Instead, team up with a full-time agent and offer to help them with their clients. Maybe help them host an open house or offer to take a buyer to look at a few homes. Trying to convince a client that you can do as much as a full-time agent is simply a lie.
  • Try a career in real estate that doesn’t involve buying or selling a house. Try getting a weekend job with the property management division of a real estate agency or work as support staff for a real estate agent or team. This could provide a good introduction to your real estate career plus you’ll be making connections in the industry that could prove valuable.

Share Your Thoughts

What are your opinions about part-time agents? Do you think it can be done by a part-time agent as effectively as a full-time agent? Do they add value to the industry or help to create a bad reputation that all agents share? When you comment, please let us know if you are a full-time agent or a part-time agent.



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Bill Petrey, the CEO and Founder of AgentHarvest, has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, Inman News, AOL Real Estate, and Inman Next, among others. He founded AgentHarvest for the sole purpose of making the process of finding a good Realtor better and easier. Bill Petrey is an author and editor of both The AgentHarvest Blog, Real Examples of Really Rotten Realty Blog, and the creator of Really Rotten Realty.

74 comments to Part-Time Real Estate Agents… A Career Or Just A Hobby?

  • new to real estate

    Here is a silly question, but what makes an agent part-time versus full-time? Is it the amount of homes they list at a certain time or how often they are in the office? Is it the amount of hours they say they are available to work each week? Do they need to publically say they are part-time or full-time?

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      Not a silly question at all. Typically it’s based on the number of hours worked each week. Part-time is considered to be less than 35 hours per week according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Jay P. "Part Time" Licensee

    Mr. Petrey,
    You have a lot of good points when you address the “Part Time” activities in Real Estate. I don’t agree with your agressive approach discouraging “Part Timers” since you do not know everyone’s situation.
    For instance, I can only speak for my case; I’m working with a Broker as a “Part Timer” transitioning to full time; I have a family to support so I need to keep my full time job for now, which at the same time pays for my expenses in the Real Estate activities; however I still schedule myself for trainings and seminars.
    I normally work representing buyers, who are working people with a 9 to 5 job, so they are only available to see properties after hours and weekends.
    I get referrals from previous sastified clients, I don’t advertise since I only work with no more than 2 buyers at a time; to your point, I can not dedicate a Full Time and I won’t be doing any good to my clients nor my reputation. One important point that I feel it is crucial when working part time is that I disclose to my clients that this is my second job.
    Mr. Petrey, I respect your position on the subject of Part Time, I also believe is good business for you, since you are the “President of AgentHarvest, a free real estate agent finder service, specializing in connecting home owners and buyers with top performing real estate agents that have a track record” but I also have a question for someone that criticizes “Part Timers”; how have you been able to become so successful with your company and still have been able to manage other business activities such as; consulting for CertiTech Solutions, and serving on the board of directors of two Arkansas corporations while been able to hold fifteen IT industry technical certifications from Microsoft, Novell CompTIA and Cisco, including Microsoft’s MCSE, Cisco’s CCNA, IT Project+ and Novell’s Master CNE certification; and last but not least you are also a licensed Realtor in the state of Texas; correct?
    Don’t get me wrong; I admire your success; it is just to show that if one is determined on a goal, works hard, is honest and can plan and manage multiple activities it can be done effectively. Not everyone has the gift of accomplishing it but it can be done.
    Good article!


    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      Wow, you do your homework. You forgot to mention my favorite color. I’m not against doing multiple things. Obviously I’ve certainly multi-tasked over the years. How was I able to do it you ask? Either the occupations or achievements were not overlapping, or are run with the help of employees!!! However, I’ve never multi-tasked at the expense of the client. I’m not against part-time real estate. I believe there are things you can do in the industry that conform to your part-time schedule, that are not to the detriment to the client.

      I’m glad you explain everything to the client about your limitations. Do you also discount your fee?

      I disagree that it’s different in every situation. It’s not. It’s exactly the same. The client doesn’t care what you’re doing when you’re not an agent so justifications, excuses and personal situations do not matter. The constant is a part-timer spends less time in real estate than a full-timer while charging full-time rates. In your non-real estate career, are the repercussions of missing a deadline different from missing a deadline but having a good excuse? Never worked for me in college. In your real-estate career, the client is your boss. Excuses are nothing but justifications for failure.

  • New Home Salesman

    I just wanted to say that I also believe you have some valid points as well as some points I myself find not to be not so true in many cases. I again will agree with the general consensus and say that it ultimately comes down to the individual and what they put into it. That is afterall the biggest part of this business, getting out what you put in. With all that said I wanted to recommend an alternative route to starting in this business, new home sales. In most states there are multiple building companies that hire sales agents fresh out of school. In many instances they will pay you a base salary while offering valuable and structured training programs. You will usually assist and learn from a sales agent who has been in the business for a while before being given your own site to sale. At this point you typically will go to commission based pay. You will most likely work in a model home and and show clients different floor plans, upgrades, lots, etc… This may be an option to consider if you want a “safer and more stable” option starting off in this business. You will also get to meet a lot of agents in the area who bring clients to your neighborhood. Again this is just another option to consider within the business.

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      New Home Salesman:
      Great alternative. Thanks for sharing. It’s a great way to get started. You’ll learn a lot especially if it’s new-construction. New-construction is harder because you sell a lot and then help the clients assemble a home from available packages and options. If you master new-construction sales, then you’ll gain a greater understanding of homes and construction that you can pass on to your clients.

  • Daniela

    Bill -please get back to work -your clients are waiting…for someone that promotes this view point, you sure have a lot of time to goof off online.

  • Sales Person of Next Year

    I have sold over six homes and two of them on my own. I have worked with four realtors. They were all full time, I was only impressed with one. Full time is not needed as much as availability and that can be accomplished by working as a team. I just got my license and plan on becoming full time within three years. Being part time has no bearing on my intelligence or dedication. If time is an issue, my associate will step in,just like the full time salesperson used for my home! The fact that too many people have their licenses is due to the level of intelligence and dedication needed to get it.I have seen fantastic part time and horrible full time employees in a variety of areas. You are making a small point of time over ride the more important points of being a strong agent. I have seen many lazy full time workers and many energetic part time people. You have made this argument to shallow and black and white.

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      Being part time has no bearing on my intelligence or dedication.

      The same can be said about full-time agents. I’ve never said that all you have to do to be successful is work full-time. It looks like you’ve found a great alternative to full-time that is beneficial to the client. Like I said before, there are ways part-timers can do it without sacrificing service to the client. Distributing the work among a team is certainly one way.

      Yes, it’s way too easy to become an agent. The classes should be harder and there should be some sort of apprenticeship involved. A college degree or associates degree should be a prerequisite. Maybe even a requirement of assisting an agent with 10 transactions from start to finish. Unfortunately licensing and membership are revenue generating so the more licenses the state can issue, the more money they can make. The same goes for membership into the National Association of Realtors.

      By the way, I hope you do become next year’s salesperson of the year!! Best of luck on your new career.

  • David

    I have read many of the comments as well as your responses. It is pretty obvious that you have something against part time agents. I have worked as both a part time and full time agent. My dedication to my clients never changed in either capacity. It is all about the agents professionalism, education and willingness to go the extra mile. I have met many full time agents who were horrible. Bottom line if you have a part time agent who is dedicated and does not over extend themselves they are just as good if not better than a fill timer

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      It’s not that I have something against part-time agents, I just have something against people misleading clients that there’s no difference in service between a full-time agent and part-time agent. If a part-timer spends 40 hours a week doing another job, and only devoting weekends to real estate, they shouldn’t promise their clients that they will be able to provide their clients the same level of service and flexibility that someone who spends all their working hours in real estate. Too many problems come up during the process that an agent has to drop everything to handle. Part-timers don’t have this flexibility.

  • Bill, your commentary is consistently accurate throughout. I am a full-time broker and also volunteer with my state’s Association of Realtors’ Professional Standards Committee, and with the state’s department of real estate in handling problems. Part-time agents don’t know what they don’t know because they do not have or have not taken (or will not take) the time to find out what is involved in real estate. Sadly, many “full-time” agents are equally ignorant. The industry suffers from this negative-clown perception.
    Fact: real estate agents are FIDUCIARIES and, as such, are interestingly susceptible to civil law in addition to NAR/state associations’ rules/regulations.
    We find that those involved in “issues” have no clue as to what a fiduciary is or their (the agent’s) obligations and responsibilities under fiduciary law. Want to be a part-timer? This is a not-so-smart decision given the liability aspect. Any professional real estate broker would not hire a part-timer because not only is their E&O insurance at high risk with the antics of the typical part time agent, but also the brokerage reputation is at stake in the market place where the broker is trying to make his living. Why? Anyone who thinks s/he is going jump into real estate and quickly make sufficient income to live from doing real estate part time is amazingly foolish and naive. When the income does not magically appear…and begin to offset the expenses in dollars and time already invested, then the desperation sets in, and then there is a stunning willingness to cut corners, “puff the goods” (aka lie), and take on the “Trust me, it’ll work out!” attitude. Real estate is a profession; not a hobby. An agent is handling/guiding someone else’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in to or out of a property. The agent becomes very, very personally responsible for what happens to that other person’s money (“fiduciary relationship” with client). Real estate is a career; not a lifestyle. It is serious; it has serious consequences for incompetence. It is possibly the only job where NO other person makes all the decisions for you the agent, how much you will earn, how you will spend your time, or what your focus will be. The income potential is unlimited–but depends solely on the agent. And this is precisely WHY there is such a high failure rate in real estate (estimated at 70% plus turnover annually). The vast majority of real estate agents can not handle the responsibility for themselves…let alone someone else’s money and assets.

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      Great points. Thanks for your input. I couldn’t agree more. However, don’t count part-timers out completely. There are support roles that they can fulfill as long as they’re trained. They can work with a full-time agent’s client by hosting open houses, or can help an agent show his/her buyer homes. They can also attend inspections and appraisals. However, what they can’t do is fully represent a client but I don’t have a problem with them assisting another agent with a client the other agent represents.

      Regarding your comment about many “full-time” agents being equally ignorant. Sadly yes we will maintain that “negative-clown perception” as long as it’s so easy to get a license. I think there should be an apprenticeship period required in order to get licensed and that period should include a time-frame, number of houses they assisted an agent to sell, buy, and lease. That would weed out the hobbyists and force a higher level of training. Sadly this will never happen because licensing is seen as an income stream rather than a measure of competence. NAR wants as many members as they can get because they want revenue, and state licensing boards like money coming in too.

      I would like to see a “Super Agent” classification, something beyond agent or Realtor based solely on skills and ability, like an elite club of super-sellers. To a lesser extent, that’s what we’re trying to do here at AgentHarvest with The AgentHarvest Top 3.

  • Josh

    Off topic, but I think it’s pretty cool that this thread has gone on for almost 3 years. Whether you agree or disagree with what’s being said this is obviously a point worth discussing. Bill, thanks for creating a forum for great conversation.

    My $.02, I’m a full-time executive who loves real estate. I’m looking to get my license in the next 12 months and learn the business slowly. If it becomes something I feel I can make a good living doing, I would love to get my brokers license and do real estate full time. I don’t think there is any other way for me than to do that on the side. My takeaway, as long as the client does not suffer than this is doable. If at any point my client(s) suffers because I’m trying to balance their needs with my own, then I need to reassess.

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      That’s correct. You’ve summed up 3 years worth of my comments nicely. One way you could do it is by acting as a supporting agent for an agent that is representing a client. However, I wouldn’t start out of the gate with a broker’s license. You won’t be ready to run your own shop for a few years until you can make it as a licensed agent salesperson, licensed under another broker. You’ll need their guidance and legal experience before you hang your broker sign out in the market. Plus, working under a broker for a few years as a full-time agent can really save you from doing something really stupid or legally dangerous to both you and your client. Plus, if you go with a good agency, you’ll be able to take advantage of lots of training classes and be able to make a lot of good contacts with successful agents that you can learn from.

  • Marc A. Donald

    Nice tips, but what I think the most important is that since the biggest financial move in your life is buying or selling a property, So you need to find some time to interview at least 3 agents before choosing one to deal with. Choose someone who’s familiar with the area you want to buy/sell your property in, also a good real estate agent should be aware of other technicalities such as inspection, negotiation. What really matters before all this that you need to be comfortable dealing with this agent.

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      All of this is important, but they also need to have a good sales track record, not just in your area, but in their entire coverage zone. But yes, don’t undervalue the fact that you have to work well with them because you’ll be working closely with them for a few months.

  • Marjorie Seward

    I never respond to such comments, but today I am compelled to do so because I beg a difference of opinion. I totally disagree that part-time agents cannot be as professional or effective in servicing their clients as full time agents. It depends on the individual agent and their level of commitment. After all is said and done its an independent business and, as business owners, even full time agents choose the hours they want to be available to clients. I have been a Realtor for nearly 30 years and most of that time has been part time due to circumstances of a single parent. But, what I really want to say is that I don’t have to pressure my clients to make decisions they are not ready to make all because my mortgage is due. Pressure tactics are eliminated when you work with a part time agent. We really do care about the client and are not so focused on our own financial situation.

  • BostonDMC

    This is nothing more than full time agents trying to protect their market from competition. It’s a completely fabricated attack to raise their own “stock” and decrease that of part time agents who are likely just as good at representing customers. Pretty slimy move, actually.

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      Sure, a part-time agent can give the same service as a full-time agent, but they can only do it when they’re not at their other job or career. Service isn’t just about quality, it’s also quantity and availability. That’s where part-timers fall short. The slimy move is to charge the full commission when you’re only available part of the time and misleading the client to think there is no real difference between the two.

  • mohamed

    What good is a lousy FT agent compared to bright/smart PT agent who can get things done efficiently. It’s all about how he/she runs his/her business…

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      A lousy agent is a lousy agent no matter how many hours they work. That’s not the point. I agree, it is about how you run your business and your devotion to it. However, part-time devotion is just part-time devotion. It’s my opinion that part-time businesses aren’t taken as seriously by the business owner as full-time businesses. They have to devote an equal amount, or more of their energy to their other occupation, especially if that occupation is their main source of income. Also serving the real estate client has a lot to do with having the freedom to serve them when needed, not when time is available. A bad agent is a bad agent, no matter how much time they waste. For some, it really is a waste of time. That much we can definitely agree.

  • Ryan

    You make some good points, but I also find you svery condescending. I am a part time realtor, trying to establish myself in the business. I have a ‘full time job’ that allows me enough flexibility to be available at all times for my clients within reason. I find it pretty humorous that you have enough time to sit here and reply to every person who posts. Shouldn’t you be showing your listings?

    • Bill Petrey, Realtor

      I really wasn’t trying to sound condescending, just faithful to the consumer’s best interests. Congrats on your new real estate career. I wish you much success and hope you can find it rewarding enough to develop into a full-time career. Yes, writing articles and responses do take up a lot of time. However, I don’t take listings anymore since I’ve started AgentHarvest. If I continued to practice real estate while working at AgentHarvest, I’d be a part-time agent. I couldn’t do that to my clients. Maybe it’s the decision to stop servicing real estate clients as an agent to work at AgentHarvest that allows me to be resolute and steadfast in my opinion of part-time agents.

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