“Our income fluctuates greatly.” 6 things you didn't know about being a real estate agent.

They are entrusted with selling our houses, helping us secure our dream home or at least a place to call home for now. But other than Phil Dunphy or Sheila and Joel Hammond, how much do we actually know about being a real estate agent? They get a bad rap – but what do their work weeks actually look like?

Real Estate Agents: Translated. Post continues after video. 

1. “We aren’t all dishonest and greedy.”

*Jim, a 52-year-old real estate agent with six years’ experience in property sales told Mamamia that “I have found agents to be very honest. The reality is agents look to achieve certainty in a transaction where people offer their best. Sometimes offers are accepted verbally but the buyer refuses to sign a contract. Reasons being, they are working away, they don’t like the building report, their wife is not sure…the list goes on. People often believe that the dishonesty is generated by the agent but often the uncertainty in fact may be generated from the buyer or from the vendor instead.”

2. “We see houses in all states and conditions.”

*Pete, who has been working as an agent for seven years, four in sales and three years in the rental area, says that going through the door of people’s houses can often be quite “eye opening”.

“I was requested to sell one home after the Commonwealth Bank ordered a Mortgagee Sale. Getting inside the house was quite an experience. It smelt of urine and cat poo. I was told the cleaners whom I had arranged to tidy up the home, found a dead cat amongst the clothing that was piled in one room. Some of my potential buyers were dry reaching at the open home – even after a full clean. We sold the place sight unseen where I only dealt with a family member who inspected on the buyer’s behalf.”

Can you really be specific when advertising for a housemate? The Mamamia Out Loud team discusses. Post continues after audio. 

3. “We don’t get paid for a lot of the work we do.”

Jim said that a lot of work they do is often unpaid. “We can spend lots of time and money trying to sell a home, only to discover that the vendors have developed such a concern and frustration that the home is not sold that they have authorised another agent to sell the home. In effect you have just been fired!”


Maria said that when she first started as an agent she “thought agents got paid for work, such as an employee. It turns out that I could be named as a second agent on a property that a director has listed and I may not be the salesman that sells that home. Similarly, I could be named as an agent in charge of an auction campaign that finally results in another agents’ buyer purchasing the home. All that work and no pay to compensate your time and effort.”

4. “We genuinely care about our clients.”

“Despite popular belief, we actually do care about our clients and achieving the best outcome for them,” Maria said. “We often spend so much time communicating with clients that we get to know them and become friends after the process or at least a friendly professional relationship that will often continue on.”

Jim agreed, “I genuinely enjoy working with people for so many walks of life and I truly believe we offer a service that is valuable. In fact, the companies that have tried to slash costs and automate the process have failed in spectacular style.”

5. “Our income fluctuates greatly.”

Pete told Mamamia that often there is a misconception that we make a “tonne of money” but that this of often “untrue”. “In this industry you can make a lot of money, but it isn’t guaranteed. On one occasion I have had 12 settlements in the one month, another month that same year, I owed money,” he said.

Jim shared a similar experience, “My personal experience has been that the vast majority of agents earn far less than many of the folk in factories I know. Agents typically work six days a week and the emotional highs and lows can be very dramatic because of this.”

“We often have to spend a lot of time away from our family”

“Long days, often after hours and weekends mean we can often spend a lot of time away from our family which can be really hard,” said Pete.

Maria said that she “wouldn’t advise being a real estate agent to anyone with a young family. You are often away from home and miss so much.”

6. “It is hard work!”

Preparing a property for sale, selling the house and closing a sale can take months and months according to Jim, Pete and Maria. “It can be a very long process that involves you actively following up, always being ‘on’ to follow any possible interest, and essentially being on call 24/7 for multiple parties invested in the sale. It can be exhausting, you wouldn’t do this job unless you loved it,” said Pete.

Shona Hendley, Mother of Goats, cats and humans, is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. You can follow her on Instagram @shonamarion.

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