Many self-acclaimed real estate gurus state that everyone should quit their jobs and immediately jump into full time real estate investing. They often claim incredible results from students with little experience. We would like to caution that life-changing decisions are not usually simple and that full time investing is not for everyone. Let’s discuss some pros and cons of full-time versus part-time investing.The Full-Time InvestorEntering into the real estate profession on a full-time basis offers several advantages over a part-time commitment. Being successful requires you to develop knowledge in many aspects of real estate, and more time focused on real estate leads to greater knowledge. The more your learn, the more you earn, since you do not need to rely on as many professional services or partners for help. You also learn to recognize a deal (or a dud) faster, which gives you more time to do more business or spend with your family.As a full-time investor, you work your own hours. When we say “full-time,” that may mean as little as twenty hours per week if you are good at finding deals. The rest of your time can be spent pursuing other vocations or hobbies. Or, if you are so inspired, you can work forty or more hours and use the extra cash flow to buy rental properties or diversify your holdings in the stock market. The point is that you need to satisfy your cash flow needs before you can start “investing” your money.One final point you should consider is whether you want to be “self-employed.” If you have always worked for someone else, being your own boss sounds very attractive. In some, respects, this isn’t quite the truth. Being your own boss means being an accountant, bookkeeper, stock clerk, receptionist and office manager all-in-one. You have to do deal with tax returns, payroll, office supplies, customer service, bills and all the other hassles that come with a business. You don’t have friends to chat with at the water cooler. You don’t have paid health insurance, a company car and a 401(k). You take your problems home with you every night. Sound like fun? It is, once you learn how to master your time and run your business. Being the master of your own life and career is well worth the other hassles of dealing with your own business.The Part-Time InvestorThe part-time investor holds a “regular job.” This may be by choice or for the time being until his real estate ventures are bringing in enough cash to quit his job. If it is the latter reason, don’t quit your job because the real estate “guru” told you so. Quit your job when it is not worth the income that it brings you. In other words, if you are making more money per hour flipping properties on the side, you are at the point that where your regular job is costing you money. Only then, is it time to quit!One of the advantages of starting out part-time is that you can maintain cash flow while learning the business. It may take weeks or possibly months to find your first deal. That same deal may take several months to turn around, especially if you decide to fix it and sell it retail. Think twice before telling your boss you’re leaving; you will have plenty of time to make the career switch once you have real estate experience. You may, on the other hand, like your occupation. If so, continue to work at it, and invest in real estate on the side.The best case scenario, if you are married, is to have one spouse work a regular job. The other spouse work the real estate business for creating wealth, retirement income and a nice college fund for the children. Of course, in today’s market, you could be laid off due to unforeseen circumstances. If you earn additional income flipping houses and invest the proceeds into rental properties, you will be covered if your main income is lost. This is especially the case for married women that often forego a career and raise a family, only to find themselves divorced with no means of making a living. We don’t want to sound cynical about marriage, but with a fifty-percent divorce rate in America, it never hurts to have a system for making money.Someone with a full time job tends to have little free time to focus on real estate. A part-timer should learn most of the same skills as a full timer. Thus, the key disadvantage to flipping properties on a part-time basis is that it takes sacrifice to learn the business. Something has to give; television, lazy weekends, meaningless hobbies and even some family activities must be compromised. As with any education, time spent learning about real estate will bring its own rewards, especially if the people in your life understand your goals and your plan to achieve those goals. If you are married, make sure your spouse reads this material with you and participates in the fun process of making money.Treat Real Estate as a BusinessPeople are lured to real estate because of the quick buck that it promises. Don’t hold your breath, you won’t get rich quick. An “overnight sensation” usually takes about five years. More than ninety percent of the people who take a real estate seminar quit after three months. Real estate investing should be treated with the seriousness of a career. It takes months, even years for a business to cultivate customers and have a life of its own. You need to treat it like any other business.
Ten Tips To Becoming the Best Real Estate Agent You Can Be:Find a MentorAs in most businesses, finding the right person to lead the way is crucial. A good mentor can mean the difference between success and failure. Find an agent you admire, or a successful broker. Offer yourself as an assistant and learn as much as you can.Network, Network, NetworkGet used to asking the questions “are you planning on moving?” and “do you know anyone who’s planning on moving?” Word of mouth is everything when it comes to finding clients, especially in the beginning. Family and friends should be supportive, and they will inevitably lead you to your first contacts.Find Interesting Ways to Promote YourselfIn addition to spreading the word amongst your inner circle, find other ways to promote yourself. You want people to remember you. Creative business cards, a play on your last name, or a clever ad are all ideas. The goal is to stick in people’s minds when they do decide to move.Don’t Forget About Social MediaRegardless of what type of business you’re in, social media is everything. Establish a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. Actively update your profiles, but make sure to make them interesting. It’s also very important to include pictures and make your pages visually stimulating.Seek Additional EducationNever stop learning. Attend seminars, take extra courses, and seek out workshops. The real estate business is constantly changing, and you need to keep up.Cultivate Relationships with ClientsHelping people with the sale of a beloved home and the search for a new one can be emotional. Keep in touch with clients and foster good relationships. Not only will they use you for their next move, they will recommend you to friends.Become a Broker Being an agent is great, but becoming a broker and having that knowledge as well is even better. Understanding where your broker is coming from will allow you to improve your technique.Learn to Budget Your TimeAs a real estate agent, you are your own boss. Make sure you manage your time properly and keep to a schedule. Don’t overexert yourself, and make sure you give every client the time and attention they deserve.Know (And Understand) the LingoIf you play it right, you can become the token real estate agent among your family, group of friends, and their extended circle. This is great for business, but it also means frequently getting asked for advice. Be sure you are up-to-date on all the real estate happenings in your area. Also, learn how to quickly explain technical things like encumbrances, insurance, surveys, and inspections to laymen.Keep A Rainy Day FundAs an agent, your income is based on commission. This means (as the saying goes) some days you’re flush, and some days you’re bust. While it will likely be less drastic than a day-to-day change, having money tucked away is crucial. The market fluctuates, and in order to stay in business, you need to have something to fall back on.