Many real estate agents out there are in survival mode. They’re focused exclusively on getting new clients and selling homes. Ask them how they plan to retire, and they’ll either tell you they don’t have time to think about that right now—or they don’t see themselves ever retiring.
It’s telling—and also a bit terrifying. Because as much as we celebrate agents who are putting in the time and effort to continually learn and improve as real estate professionals, we don’t want any of you to burn out. And that can happen when your only source of income is the commission you earn from your own real estate sales—especially when it gets a lot harder to earn those commissions.
So, we’re breaking down seven ways real estate agents can make money. Because the more income streams you have, the less you have to worry about your finances collapsing every time you get sick—or every time you have to adapt to a new shift in the market.
#1—Your personal real estate sales
This one you already know because it’s what you’re (probably) doing now. These are the sales that result from you doing the work.
The good news about this one is you have control over the way you spend your time, what you prioritize in your daily routine, and how many conversations you have on a daily basis.
The tough part about it? You don’t control (at least not directly) the housing market—from the number of homes available to your buyer clients to the number of buyers motivated to transact to the current mortgage rate and its impact on your client’s monthly mortgage payment.
What you can do is continually educate yourself and provide the data and information your clients need to see their options as clearly as possible, so they can make the right decisions for them.
Ultimately, you want them to be confident in the choices they make and grateful to you for your guidance and advocacy. So, it’s not a good look if you’re so desperate for that next commission check that you’re tempted to steer your client in a direction that’s better for you than for them.
This is why it makes sense to build additional income streams. And as a real estate agent, you know more than most when it comes to building the next stream on our list.
#2—Investing in income properties
Real estate investment can result in another income stream—typically from renters (though not always). We won’t call it “passive income,” because passive is one thing it is not.
Properties need managing. And if you don’t have enough overhead to pay someone else to do that for you, you’ll be the one your renters call when they’ve wrecked the plumbing by flushing things that aren’t meant to be flushed—or when the air conditioner stops working in the middle of a heat wave (probably when you’re about to board your plane for that long-awaited vacation).
That said, assuming your tenants pay the rent consistently, you can put those funds toward the mortgage you’re paying on the property—as well as other bills you’re paying to keep the place livable. Plus, if you’re investing in single-family homes and you have children, you can give them a solid headstart in building wealth as adults.
Also, you as a real estate agent have an advantage when it comes to finding homes in your market that are good bets as investment properties. Stick with properties near where you live so you can easily visit them and address any issues that come up.
#3—Investing in the stock market
Building an investment portfolio that includes stocks is a respectable way to plan for retirement. That said, much depends on the person managing that portfolio.
We’re not offering financial advice, here, and we’re certainly not going to tell you which stocks are your best best. But if investing in the stock market is something you want to try, find someone with a strong record for managing stock portfolios, and get started.
#4—Coaching & training
When you get to a point in your career where you believe you could help newer agents avoid costly mistakes (maybe those you made yourself), make better use of their time, and succeed sooner, consider allocating some time for coaching and training.
Whether you invest this income in your stock portfolio or put it toward something else–like a family travel fund, investment properties, or something else—is up to you.
#5—Building a team
The next way to bring in other income streams is to build a team. Agents on your team can be selling properties while you’re on a well-earned vacation with your family, and part of their commission would add to your total income as a real estate agent and business owner.
How well this works depends entirely on the people you choose. Having a strong team means having the right people in the right seats.
If you haven’t already read the book Traction: Getting a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman, this is the book to read on building a cohesive and successful team. Wickman’s breakdown of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) will change the way you look at and run your business—as well as your perspective on other relationships that matter to you.
Building a team allows you to leverage your time by hiring an assistant to handle tasks that are important but that someone else can do as well as—or even better than—you can.
It also allows you to surround yourself with professionals who make your team more well-rounded and who enable you to provide the best possible service to your clients.
Before you start getting requests to speak at conferences or anything that involves you getting paid to share what you know, you’ll have to demonstrate through your business that you know what you’re doing.
You want people to look at your real estate business and think, “Well, they’re definitely doing something right! Maybe they know something that would help me.”
Before that happens, though, you can also volunteer to speak for free—with a view to making more connections, meeting potential collaborators, and getting (or giving) referrals.
#7—Build a downline
For some of you, this could be a big player in your long-term success as a real estate agent. True, only some real estate companies out there operate this way. Real Brokerage and eXp are two notable examples.
You can learn more about how this model works by talking to the agents who are successfully building a downline of motivated top-performing agents—while still developing their own skills as real estate professionals.
This is one of those things you can take or leave with our blessing. It’s not for everyone, but it is an option to consider.
So, which of the income streams described here are you most interested in building for your real estate business? And what will you do this week to get started?