By Neesha Hosein
The San Jacinto College Real Estate Program prepares students for a competitive and evolving career path. But it’s not all about selling houses.
Graduates from this South Campus program can pursue careers in property management, title companies, and commercial real estate or with apartment locators. Residential real estate agent is the most common job title in the field.
For those with no experience, the occupational certificate in real estate is the best starting point. It consists of six classes required by the state to be eligible for a real estate license.
Anyone who already has a Texas real estate license or is licensed in another state can get credit for up to three classes, including Principles of Real Estate I and II and Law of Agency, according to David Turnquist, real estate instructor.
“Much of what real estate agents do involves preparing contracts, addenda, and amendments and knowing what forms to use and when to use them,” Turnquist said. “A real estate agent must be very organized and pay attention to deadlines on the contracts for each client.”
Much of the groundwork is done behind the scenes, so being well-trained and having good written communication skills are essential for success.
“Know the areas and market that you are working in so that when clients ask questions you know the answers,” Turnquist said. “Manage your time, and don’t overcommit. Answer calls, texts, and emails in a timely manner, as this is one of the biggest complaints about realtors from consumers.”
Pursuing a real estate career with high hopes of making easy money and setting flexible work hours will lead straight to two of the top misconceptions.
“For the most part, clients want to look at homes after work and on the weekends and holidays, so if you are getting into real estate to work your own schedule, you’d better think again,” Turnquist said. “There are over 30,000 agents in the Houston area alone, which means you have a lot of competition.”
Another misconception is that real estate agents must be bubbly and outgoing. While this is never bad in any capacity, it’s not a requirement for the job.
Despite personality types, it could take years to build up a client base before making a sizable income.
“Almost all real estate agents will be independent contractors who are paid by commission only, as in no salary or hourly pay,” Turnquist said. “If you don’t sell anything, you don’t make any money. The more you sell, the more you make. Depending on what broker you work for, the brokerage takes a percentage of your commissions as the broker split, which varies anywhere from 60/40 to 95/5 in favor of the agent.”
Houses are currently selling at a fast rate and with hefty price tags, which means the real estate industry is steadily growing. This gives a false sense that it is an easy way to make money. According to Turnquist, it is not as easy as it seems and is “extremely competitive.”
Turnquist encourages anyone embarking on a career in real estate to prepare for fierce competition. He said agents can be a bit ruthless in their tactics to get clients “and will even steal them from you.” The best method for success is to “show a client that you are the best one to help them and their needs.”
Why San Jac?
Studying real estate at San Jac means receiving college credit and the opportunity to earn a degree since it’s an accredited institution.
“You can also use financial aid at San Jac but not at the proprietary schools,” Turnquist said. “We exceed the state minimum requirements in most of our classes, and we often hear from brokers across Houston that our students are better prepared and more knowledgeable than the students that came from other schools.”
Learn more about San Jac’s real estate program at sanjac.edu/program/real-estate.