A lot of so-called full-time agents look down their noses at dual-career agents, but I’d argue that some of the biggest names in their markets might actually be part-time agents at best. Here’s why.

As you put away the New Year’s decorations and get back to the office, you may be feeling pretty good about the year you just had. After all, even with a fairly chilly fall and winter, a lot of agents have flourished over the last couple of very good years.

That type of almost-effortless success can lead to some complacency, however, and I’d bet that some of you haven’t bothered to create a game plan for 2023. If not, you could be in for a rude awakening. Both the current cooler market and the Federal Reserve combine to make it harder to get by with a casual approach to your business.

If you haven’t done the real work of running your business, it may be time to ask yourself whether you’re running a business at all. If you’re getting by on the bare minimum of transactions without putting thought into scale or growth, it may be time to ask yourself whether you’re actually a full-time agent or just playing the part.

Are you a part-time agent?

There are many ways to evaluate the performance of an agent, and their commitment to growth. Who’s really the full-time agent if we’re judging between the following:

  • The luxury agent who does four big deals a year or the agent selling two homes a month/24 homes that year at their market’s median home price?
  • The agent whose referral network has provided all of their leads for the last 20 years with no effort or the agent who consistently markets while also nurturing referral relationships, resulting in consistent growth year-over-year?
  • The agent who’s content to sit on a team and work the leads they’re provided or the agent who’s always looking for ways to take on more responsibility and bigger projects?
  • The agent who’s been selling in the same neighborhoods at the same price point for 20 years or the agent who is always learning more, exploring new niches and new opportunities?
  • The agent who got into real estate for the “flexible schedule” and continues to see that as the biggest advantage, rather than the flexible growth potential a career in real estate offers?
  • The agent who shows up to the listing presentation completely unprepared and coasting on their reputation or who shows up to the open house hungover and disengaged?

Recently we’ve seen a proliferation of brand new agents jumping into real estate, hoping to make it a career, either in the short term or long term. In many cases, these new agents are working a few deals as a side gig while they learn the ropes and try to build a client base (and their confidence) alongside their current, full-time job.

Full-time real estate agents generally look down on dual-career agents. They see them as less serious and less committed, taking commissions out of the pocketbook of more serious, better qualified, more professional full-time agents.

We’re not really supposed to acknowledge this, but the divide is there. However, I’d argue that it’s based on a false premise. That’s because I’ve known full-time agents who are less professional and less committed than some part-timers, who often have to be highly organized and highly motivated in order to juggle all of their responsibilities. 

Don’t get me wrong. You can have a perfectly serviceable career serving the same community in the same way for decades. Some of the most beloved people in the industry have made their bones doing just that. 

However, that’s no reason to congratulate yourself or treat others who are just starting out like they are beneath you. Allow them the opportunity to prove their professionalism and competence — the same opportunity, presumably, that someone provided to you somewhere along the way.

If you are a new or dual-career agent

If you haven’t figured it out yet, you’ll need to work hard to show veteran, full-time agents that you belong at the bargaining table with them. Here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward during your early days in the industry:

  • Don’t make your lack of experience someone else’s problem. Your team lead and managing broker are there to answer any questions you have. Maybe you have a mentor in the industry. These are the people you should seek help from, not the person you’re negotiating against or people in your office trying to work on their own transactions.
  • Develop an elevator pitch for your path to full-time agent. You will sound more committed and more serious if you can clearly articulate how and when you plan to leave your current position and make real estate your primary profession. Remember, your current full-time gig can become the side gig if you need to supplement your income.
  • Seek out opportunities for growth to fast-track your career. You may not be ready to go full-time as a single agent, but you may be able to do so as part of a team. You may not be able to make a career as a generalist, but there may be an opportunity in a growing niche. Commit yourself to education, training and networking so that you can find out where your best chances of success lie.

If you are a veteran agent

Finally, if you’re an experienced agent, but you feel that you’ve stagnated or underperformed in your career, it’s never too late to look around for opportunities for growth. You have the advantage of time and experience, plus a network of professional acquaintances and friendships to draw on. 

It starts with putting yourself out there and admitting that the way you’ve always done business may not be the best way. Get some education. Get a mentor. Open yourself up to new possibilities.

Next, put in some time. Look at your marketing. If you don’t have a marketing plan in place, work with someone to develop one. We live in a time of virtually unlimited resources. Talk to your broker or to a colleague you admire and get started.

Sign up for an event or an in-person commitment, whether it’s serving on a committee at your local association or attending a conference. Listen and learn instead of using it as an excuse to get out of town to party. There’s a lot going on in the world of real estate, and this is an exciting time to be part of it. Get involved and get busy.

Make time for face time with clients and colleagues. Set up coffee dates, connect with your best sources of referrals and attend training sessions. Be humble enough to admit you don’t know everything and bold enough to put yourself out there in a new way. Get on video, guest on a podcast and make yourself available as an expert.

Even if you’re ten to 15 years from retirement, you can make a big difference in your income and your reputation in that time. What’s more, you’ll find more professional satisfaction when you quit judging others for their shortcomings and start pushing yourself to create a career you can be proud of.