How to make 6 figures as an independent real estate agent, according to someone who did it

Heather Foss

Summary List Placement

If becoming a real estate agent at the height of the financial crisis seems like a recipe for failure, Heather Foss, an independent real estate agent in Minneapolis for over 10 years, is proof of the contrary. Not only did she manage to hold her own, she eventually grew her income to a steady six-figure mark — despite the $48,690 median yearly pay for real estate agents in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For those looking to join a growing industry, who better to learn from than a real estate agent who not only survived, but thrived, during the Great Recession that drove many real estate veterans out of business?

From call center employee to real estate agent

After graduating from Hamline University in St. Paul with a bachelor’s degree in physics, Foss took a job in a local call center, where a coworker sitting next to her told her how much money (tens of thousands) he was making flipping houses on the side — a sum that was significantly more than either of them were netting from the call center. Foss eventually took advantage of the company’s policy to pay for their employees to go back to school and got her real estate license.

The day she passed her real estate test she quit her job and started out on the toughest years of her career. “You get licensed and you’re left to your own devices. I was 22 and wasn’t surrounded by any real estate agents” to learn from, Foss said.

Then the recession hit

In 2007 when Foss was first starting out, she described herself as “so naive and green that I didn’t really know that the bottom was falling out of the real estate market, but I did know that I wasn’t having a ton of success.”

As she watched more experienced real estate agents leave the profession, Foss forged through what she now described as “a long three years.” She made it through by helping a company clean and list foreclosed homes and, although she was sometimes making commission on sales as low as $13,000, she was quickly able to say that she had sold 150 homes in three years — a level of experience that typically takes much longer to come by considering that the average number of transactions a realtor nabs in a year is 11. By 2011, she had become deeply familiar with the foreclosure and short-sale processes and skilled at determining the value of homes. 

Once the financial crisis began to wane, business from investors looking to get into the recovering housing market started to rebound. “It was fun to work with people again,” Foss said of the transition. 

Learning to treat it like a business

It was also around 2011 that Foss began to work under ReMax Results, which has a cap on the number of commissions it splits with its realtors, where she remains today. “It encouraged me to do as many deals as I can upfront to hit the …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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