A Day in the Life of a Real Estate Agent: The Underappreciated Facets

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Park My License℠
Published in
9 min readMay 2, 2021



A real estate agent or broker’s life is not as glamorous as you might see on television. It’s a demanding line of work that doesn’t always lead to a hefty paycheck. Every real estate professional shares the same struggles, whether they have one or twenty years of experience. And most of these difficulties go unnoticed by clients who think an agent’s life is easy and profitable. We dive into the five most prevalent topics of an agent’s daily routine, as discussed by colleagues from across the spectrum.

1. Finding Clients

MYTH: Agents and brokers have a long line of clients waiting to buy or sell real estate.

REALITY: It takes hard work and sometimes years to build a steady flow of transactions.

[W]hen I first got licensed, I thought I would sit, wait for the sales to come in. I truly believed it was a passive type of income.

-Denise Supplee, Long & Foster

You need to attract clients in order to earn those lucrative commissions on transactions. A lot of newer agents expect to come in and start cashing commission checks right away but don’t realize that they need to be effectively marketing themselves everyday.

-AJ Chinn, Phenomenal Homes with AJ Chinn

This career is a daily grind and not a get-rich-quick situation.

-Su-Foun (Debbie) Liu, Atop Real Estate

When just starting, no one knows you are an agent….it can be extremely discouraging, hence why most agents quit during their first year. Most do not get their first client for at least six months to a year, if at all. We are in the information age, so finding newer ways like facebook ads, groups, instagram, google ads, starting a blog, etc. is a must.

-Ed Wheeler, Iron Valley Real Estate

To be successful, agents/REALTORs have to have a constant stream of up-and-coming buyers and sellers. Examples of lead generation include building an online presence, managing lead response and follow-up, maintaining a CRM system, planning and budgeting for marketing.

-Jen Stark, JASP Real Estate LLC

This could mean cold calling, putting together mailings, and hounding your family and friends to buy a property. While commissions for real estate are great, you only get out of it what you put in. If you don’t put in the marketing/lead generation, you won’t make any money.

-Ryan Whitcher, Harmony Home Buyers

It takes about 10 years to build a solid real estate business, but once you do that, it will pay for your lifestyle for the rest of your life.

-Michele Harrington, First Team Real Estate | Christie’s International

2. Work-Life Balance

MYTH: Agents work whenever they want.

REALITY: Not exactly. Pros must be available at a moment’s notice to make a living wage.

Most successful agents work well over 40 hrs per week and most of their work is done in the background.

-Ed Wheeler, Iron Valley Real Estate

There are no “set hours” for Realtors. We work nights, weekends, holidays, bad weather, good weather, during their kids sports games etc.

-David Nations, The Nations Network — powered by Keller Williams Realty

The most difficult thing about being a real estate agent is that you have to be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you want that commission, you have to be available when the client wants you. That means; if a client is ready to put an offer on a property on Friday night and you have dinner reservations guess what you’ll be doing? Putting together the contracts and catching everyone for dessert. Granted, this doesn’t happen often, but it can happen, and you have to be ready for it.

-Ryan Whitcher, Harmony Home Buyers

We have to balance our work with our lives, and it can be hard, especially because buyers (and sellers) are VERY invested in the process emotionally and financially. Clients often want us to respond immediately and don’t understand if we don’t answer their questions during our “off” hours.

-Tony Mariotti, Ruby Home

We work around the clock. Clients don’t know that we work until late in the night and get up early to negotiate, research, and keep deals from falling apart.

-Brad Pauly, Pauly Presley Realty

Now that our day in the office is over, most people would believe we get to go home to our families. They would be wrong. Now it’s updating websites, blogging, working on our Social Media Presence.

-Eric Nerhood, Premier Property Buyers

As a real estate agent, sometimes it can feel like days never end and just merge together. On one hand you have banks, title companies, and other professionals that stick to a 9–5, M-F, work day, and on the other hand you have a real estate industry that is pretty much working 24/7/365.

-Al Wisnefske, Land & Legacy Group

3. Maintaining Client Relationships

MYTH: Anyone can do an agent’s job.

REALITY: Not everyone can deliver exceptional customer service. Most real estate pros spend countless hours on lesser-known tasks to keep their client happy and satisfied.

Going the extra mile is vital in this business and is why clients refer me to their friends and family. For instance, recently a condo was going to market and when I arrived to let the photographer in, the cleaning wasn’t ideal, so I always have wipes, paper towel and cleaning supplies and took 20 mins to get it in top shape.

-Nick J. Kyte, Coldwell Banker | First Ottawa Realty

There are literally hundreds of steps taken by real estate agents. The tasks run from helping to clean out someone’s home to minor repairs (I always keep a set of tools in my car) to taking out the trash and stashing laundry before a showing. I’ve made beds, cleaned up bathrooms, cleaned trash from around the outside of a house, cleaned the kitchen sink, etc.

-Jamie Grossman, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

*Making sure that all walkways and driveways are free and clear of ice

*Cleaning up homes, making beds, cleaning dog poop prior to a showing

*Staging a home myself with the storage room of items I have personally from Home Goods

-Ellen Schwartz, Compass

There are so many different hats that one must wear as an agent. You are a taxi driver as you drive all over town many days to show properties. You are a clerical expert as you write up various contracts and offers for your clients. You are an educator as you are continually teaching your clients about real estate and the processes of buying and selling. You are a therapist to your clients as you ease their anxieties and concerns throughout buying or selling. You are a liaison as you facilitate a smooth transaction between your client and another agent’s client.

-AJ Chinn, Phenomenal Homes with AJ Chinn

Over the course of my career, I have discovered that no two transactions are ever the same. There are some that seem to coast along the “normal” course of a transaction while others may have some bumps along the way. Navigating each client through their process is truly a skill that constantly and consistently needs to be honed and perfected.

-David Zeff, Allan Prigal and Associates | RE/MAX Realty Group

Client happiness and satisfaction are such an important aspect of the process and outcome, which in turn sometimes requires me to continue work well into the evening, doing comps, finding new and ideal properties, negotiating, ensuring inspections are smooth and up to the standard, communicate with the many players involved in the transaction, and ultimately close any loops.

-Su-Foun (Debbie) Liu, Atop Real Estate

4. Closing the Deal

MYTH: Real estate agents hand off the file once you sign on the dotted line.

REALITY: Nope. In most cases, they keep the transaction moving, so their job has only begun.

One of the biggest myths about what real estate agents do is that they only put a sign in the yard and locate a home buyer.

-Jason Gelios, It’s All About The Real Estate

There are many pieces to a sale. There are inspections, appraisals, mortgage commitments and much more. If you drop the ball on one, it could literally break a sale. Not to mention the hours of texts and calls with vendors and nervous clients.

-Denise Supplee, Long & Foster

There are over 180 tasks from start to finish to list a property. If you are a solo agent or on a team these tasks need to be completed for every listing.

-David Nations, The Nations Network — powered by Keller Williams Realty

When purchasing, during due diligence, we are constantly communicating with lenders, attorneys, inspectors, other agents, and our clients to keep all in order. When selling your home, quality agents have an in depth marketing, advertising, and sales strategy that goes into the sale of your home.

-Will Hedrick, Speek Real Estate

I like to compare my job to a conductor of an orchestra. We spend hours on the phone with title companies, lenders, other agents, contractors, inspectors, and our clients making sure that everything works in harmony. We are the glue that keeps all parties informed, working together, and happy.

-Brad Pauly, Pauly Presley Realty

[I]t takes numerous phone calls, text messages, emails and sometimes taking days to coordinate.

-Veronika Badzgon, Century 21 PowerRealty.ca

5. Commissions & Fees

MYTH: Agents make a lot of money on the commission.

REALITY: Not always. As independent contractors, agents juggle many expenses.

If I work with sellers and they do not sell their home, all my expenses are out of my own pocket and I do not get paid.

-Veronika Badzgon, Century 21 PowerRealty.ca

We live client to client and since we don’t get paid unless a client closes on the purchase or sale of their property, we can find ourselves doing work for someone up to 60 or 90 days only to not have it close and earn an income.

-Alex Young, Keller Williams Green Bay

As a real estate agent you only get paid if the transaction closes. You could show a hundred homes to a client, make offers but not close, and real estate agents would make nothing.

-Ed Frowley, We Buy Houses In Western Mass

It is very common for clients to change their minds after they have been working with an agent and no longer buy/sell a property.

-Bill Samuel, Blue Ladder Development

I get to work with clients to understand their desires and pull together a strategic plan. I work with some folks for years until they are ready to pull the trigger seeing dozens of homes.

-Kristen Stuecher, Compass

The commissions may seem big, but remember that the 5–6% commission is split between the Buying agent company and the Selling agent company. Then each company takes fees off the top and the agent gets their split. It can take months of showings to get a sale. I just showed one couple over 50 homes before they found the perfect place.

-Jamie Grossman, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

The commission is also typically misunderstood. Many people think the agent gets paid 6% (avg commission in our area). What they don’t realize is that we split that commission (3%) with a co-broker who most likely brings the buyer and both agents have a split with their brokers. The agent also pays to market the house and needs to pay taxes so after everything is all completed the agent probably really nets 1% of the commission for all the time and effort they are putting into helping someone buy or sell a home.

-David Nations, The Nations Network — powered by Keller Williams Realty

Real estate agents are independent contractors so any expenses they incur on the job they have to pay for out of pocket. Overall the commission an agent receives from one successful transaction may seem high however it doesn’t take into account all of the other time the agent spent working on failed transactions they spent their time and money on.

-Bill Samuel, Blue Ladder Development

[T]here are MLS fees, website fees, Realtor fees if applicable, continuing education fees, and of course all of the advertising expenses.

-Ed Wheeler, Iron Valley Real Estate

A real estate agent will also foot the bill for services — like professional photography and advertising — that would otherwise fall on the seller.

-Tyler Forte, Felix Homes

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