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By Mike Cooper | Broker in Winchester, VA

Commissons are not the only source of income for Realtors!

Commissions are not the only source of income for Realtors!

As Realtors, we love closings.  Our profession has the potential to pay very well.  But, when the economy turns down many buyers decide to put off home purchases.  They may choose to remodel,  or replace worn furniture and carpet or add a pool or something that doesn't come up to the level of a new home purchase.  So, where does that leave the real estate professional who is depending on commission sales for income?

We have options, and some of these options can open a whole new stream of income so that when times are lean you have a continual flow of income.  Let me offer a few ideas for "off market" income.  Some of us already do many of these, but some may not.

  • One simple choice is to do BPOs for lenders.  In this market, there are many companies offering opportunities for agents to give assessments of property.  You need to make sure it's legal for agents to do BPOs in your state.  Some states only allow brokers to complete BPOs, and in other states only appraisers can do them.  Here is a link to lead you to some great BPO providers.  http://bpo-companies.com/
  • Finding tenants for listed rentals.  If you are not interested in managing rental properties, which is another good source of agent income, you can find tenants for others.  You can post an ad on Craigslist.com stating that you have available rentals in your area.  I blogged on this a number of week ago in, "Are You Letting A Great Source of Income Pass You By." When I do this, I normally get 3-10 calls over a weekend.  I post that on a Friday afternoon looking for clients who are seeking a rental on their days off.  Finding a tenant can benefit you financially from a full month's rent to a quarter or third of a month's rent.  It also provides you with potential future home buyers.   It's a quick and easy way to generate income.
  • Propery management.  You may have the temperment for managing real estate.  It can be very profitable.  It offers regular income once a lease is signed, and in many cases you will have limited interaction with the tenant.  That is not always the case, but it often is.  There are a number of excellent courses available for rental property management certifications.  The Institute of Real Estate Management offers a great program to get you up and running in this field.  You may also want to check your Real Estate Board to inquire about state requirements.
  • Property monitoring.  Everyone who needs to be away from the area may not want to rent his property while away.  You can monitor it for him for a fee.  You make a few walk-thru trips each month while he's away. You make sure all doors and windows are still locked.  You check to make sure all systems are up and running and you water the plants if he has them.  You can charge a set fee per visit.  It's a good steady income.
  • Link up with a local attorney to do assessments for property he/she has in estate sales, bankruptcies and divorces.  It's like doing BPOs for lenders, but you do it for a local attorney.  It can often lead to listings.  Local banks need this same service.  It also provides income and potential listings.
  • Consult.  You can consult in all facets of the real estate business.  One area that has a high need for consultation is in the FSBO market.  Most FSBOs have no idea what they are doing.  They need to have some professional guidance.  You can offer consultation for a fee (a good fee), and he can still sell his property by himself and save money. If it doesn't sell, he still has your business card.  You may want to look at the ACRE program for real estate consulting. 
  • Teach classes in various aspects of real estate.  People will pay to learn how to do a short sale.  They will also pay to understand how to buy a foreclosure.  Many people like to be "in the know" when they contact an agent about these types of issues.  There are so many different things  you can teach.  Classes can be inexpensive, but this is a place where volume counts.  A hundred students at $20 is a nice $2000 check for an hour or two class.  Link up with a local lender who can provide the space and swag items.  If this works well for you - you may develop a following of students who you  keep in touch with through drip email, newsletters, Facebook, etc.  At some point they will likely become clients.  There are also opportunities to become a salesperson, broker and CE class provider. 

I think most agents would prefer to sell real estate as a primary source of income, but there are options.  Some of these options can become major sources of income.  It works like a series of streams running into a river.  The more streams, the more likely the river will survive a drought. 

(Disclaimer:  All grammatical mistakes, punctuation breakdowns and misspellings are purely for your amusement and entertainment.  Feel free to cackle.)


By Lisa Dunham, MBA, CDPE, ePRO,  Fri Jul 8 2011, 17:01
Mike, this is a great list and a great resource for generating additional income!
By Mike Cooper,  Fri Jul 8 2011, 17:11
Excellent, Lisa. Good luck with it!!
By Allan Erps,  Fri Jul 8 2011, 17:46
Exceptional Post Mike, great thought and well written!
By David Lee,  Fri Jul 8 2011, 17:58
This is a great post. Thank you for sharing.
By Mike Cooper,  Fri Jul 8 2011, 18:03
Glad you enjoyed it, Allan and David. I hope helps you in your business!!
By David Pham,  Fri Jul 8 2011, 18:15
Great post Mike. There are no lack of opportunities for those who are willing.
By Mike Cooper,  Fri Jul 8 2011, 18:37
You bet, David. Thanks for commenting!!
By John Souerbry,  Fri Jul 8 2011, 22:05
Thanks for great ideas. If I wasn't a broker, property manager, or consultant... I'd be a - visionary. There's a lot of money in predicting the future. It's just a black art, no science.
By Mike Cooper,  Sat Jul 9 2011, 05:45
Thanks for dropping by, John. Have a great weekend!!
By Karen Nelson,  Sun Jul 10 2011, 22:22
Thank You Mike! Being located in ski resort our market is ninety percent investment and second home sales so most of us got a quick lesson in utilizing additional avenues of income or we would all be back to city living in short order. Recently, a colleague also suggested looking into providing mediation and expert witness services. I have had the pleasure of meeting so many individuals in our industry that have amazing talent...all we need to do is just get out there!
By Mike Cooper,  Mon Jul 11 2011, 01:26
Excellent, Karen!

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