Home Buying in 20002>Question Details

Jaime, Both Buyer and Seller in 22304

should i get a real estate license to save the 3% comission?

Asked by Jaime, 22304 Sat Dec 5, 2009

Help the community by answering this question:


Arthur Hardy’s answer
You have an eccletic set of answers here but let me try to help you. First of all, the adage of a lawyer representing himself has a fool for a client should be considered. Few lawyers provide good counsel to themselves in areas that are not their area of expertise. If you are not practicing real estate law, and you are not familiar with what is actively going on in the market your inexperience leaves you vulnerable to being sued for incorrect actions on your part to something as simple as not making the best transaction in your purpose.
As a realtor we are required to not only spend thousands of dollars to become licensed, trained and up to date, we are required to maintain that status like attorneys in our area with continuing education. I cannot stress to you strongly enough that it is in your best financial interest to use a professional realtor.

If you look at the problems that have occurred in many FSBO (for sale by owner) transactions you will see the errors tend to come from people who dont know the laws rules and common practices of the area. This is a case where you get what you pay for, or dont pay for as the case may be.
Arthur Hardy

W.C. & A.N. Miller

A Long & Foster Company

Spring Valley office

4910 Mass. Ave NW, Suite 119

Washington DC 20016

202 362-1300 Office

202 895-2860 Direct
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 11, 2010
Hi Jaime,

There's some good info here, especially from Jim Downing regarding all the fees involved with, not just getting licensed, but being allowed to practice as a Realtor® - fees, associations, memberships, lockbox access, insurance - it's a couple thousand dollars, before you ever split your fee with your broker. One of the hardest parts about becoming a Realtor® is learning the contracts, the language of them and being able to answer a client's questions about them because they DO NOT TEACH THAT IN CLASS. It's on-the-job-training. BUT....you are already there, as you are both attorney's! If you want to get your license and are a good student - which I assume you are as you have your J.D., take an online course. You can even take the final exam at your convenience at your local library with a librarian as proctor. The classroom courses are primarily feeding grounds for big realty companies to scoop up unsuspecting newbies.

If you get your license you will have to affiliate with a broker, but there are many out there who will allow you to affiliate for a fee instead of charging a percentage. Also, a 50-50 split as Jim mentioned, is very excessive in today's market. Most good brokers don't take more than 35% and I've seen some who only take 15%, because, if their agents don't eat, they don't sell.

If you want to talk to an attorney who has her real estate license, go to http://www.sail-realty.com/default.htm. I met Beth Irons in a GCAAR class recently; very nice lady who owns her own agency in Montgomery County, MD. She got her license a year ago and became a broker at the same time - apparently you can do that in MD if you are a real estate attorney - so she could possibly give you insight that us plain old Realtors® could not.

Now, if you want to try to go the route of just going it on your own and buying a house without a license and with no agent, then talk to this guy, Drew Hitt, on Trulia - http://www.trulia.com/voices/profile/Real_Estate_Pro-Virgini…
He is a professional home buyer/seller who is not licensed and apparently has his sales contract down to 1-page. He seems to know what he's doing, doesn't mind sharing info and would probably be a good source.

Hope this helps!

Kelly Putz

After doing your research, if you decide to chuck the idea of trying it yourself and want use a Realtor®, I'd be happy to do a consultation interview to see if we would mesh well. I'm licensed in DC, MD and VA, so I could help you no matter where you want to look for a house.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
Jaime, I am not sure if VA is a state that uses attorneys for a real estate transactions (NJ does).....but if it is, at least you'll be able to save money there!

I believe that in VA one must complete 60 hours of training to be licensed....there is also a continuing education requirement to renew after a year.

What are you fees per hour as attorneys (I don't expect an answer - that's for you to factor in).

I am sure when you add that up ( your hourly fee x 60), along with the actual monetary costs/fees/dues/etc. (just E&O insurance alone costs me $500 a year), the number will be quite high. If the commission is paid to you, rather than you waiving it, there will be tax implications, as well.

Even if you're looking ot purchase a home over 1 million...you can't assume ( as James did) that your "cut" as a new agent will be 50% , or 1.5%......the total commission may start lower, at 5 for example, leaving you a gross of 1.25.............there might be royalty or franchise fees taken off the top, depending on the company you go with. There are numerous other unknown costs that will come up.

In my company due to agency disclosure laws in NJ, we are not allowed to handle our own transactions. We must have an agent in the office be the "front" person. Now, since I know everyone and have been with the company for 25 years, I, personally, wouldn't pay them more than a token fee, but as a new person, you might not be in that position...especially when it is known you are only using your license to buy a home for yourself. These kind of issues vary from company to company.

When you consider what your time is worth (and now that we know you're attorneys, your hourly time is worth more!), and the actual out-of-pocket expenses....I think you will come to the conclusion that's it's not worth the effort, time, or money. And..there is certainly a huge value added by using an experienced agent to handle one of the most important purchases in your life!

The choice is yours....now that you have the information...you can make the decision that's right for you.
Best wishes........
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
I am confused...you are trying to save the cost of commission when you sell, right? You say 3%?
Let me ask you, if you were a friend,, and I said that I was going to defend myself in a lawsuit to save the cost of professional representation, what would you advise?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
Are you really equating a law degree with a real estate license?
Flag Thu Jun 25, 2015
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
Good question. Some of the answers are very good - others have a bit to be desired. It is fully understandable to think this may be a good idea.

However most people dont know the time and money it costs to "get your license". You have to take 60 hours of classroom instruction ($). Then you have to take the state test($). Then you have to find a broker to accept you and pay the state for your license ($).
Then you need to join the local Real Estate board ($$). Then you need to pay for the MLS ($). Now you need to sign up for lockbox access ($).

Then your broker will make you pay for insurance ($$).

Now you are ready to go. But do you know anything about the details of selling a property or anything about the contracts we use? No. The Real Estate classes teach you nothing about the contracts or how to sell Real Estate. For that you will need to attend trainings with your broker (usually free).

Now dont forget; as a new agent - your broker will take about 1/2 of your commission earned.

Also; when selling your own home - you are under much tougher disclosure laws than an ordinary person.

Thinking you can save money by just "getting your license" sounds good initially - because most folks dont know what all is involved. Best of luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009

You have been provided with some important information. We recommend you consider this action carefully because what appears to be a good idea may cost you more than you can imagine. Time invested, cost of the class, expenses, books, cost for the license, MLS board dues, lock box fees, office desk fees, commision splits with the broker etc. etc. etc.........

Persuing a RE license for the purpose of saving a fee for professional services may be a foolish undertaking. However, persuing a license to become a realtor for the purpose of "helping others".....now that would be a noble gesture and one worthy of attaining.

Good luck with your decision.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
On the surface it seems to be a cut and dried question but as you can tell from the responses there's more to the answer than arithmetic. Three percent makes me think you're the buyer because the seller would be looking to save 5-6%. You already know the dollar amounts for doing business, then add on the time spent learning the business, the kindness of colleagues who will be answering your questions and the trial-and-error problems you will encounter because the fun of real estate is it's never the same thing twice. It's not a wise investment for a single purchase, however if you're about to become investors and purchase more often, then yes, it would be worth your time.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 22, 2013
In most states a real estate attorney doesn't have to be a real estate agent to write contracts.
r u a real estate attorney?
Ramesh Chandra
703 635 8209
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 7, 2009
Just because they say they are attorneys does not mean they are billing $350 per hour, or even working much for that matter.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
Hmmm. Two attorneys are looking to a Trulia blog for advice on whether it's worth getting a real estate license to save the 3% commission?

More and more, I'm wondering about the authenticity of these questions.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
$305 for test and license fees in CA. JDs are exempt from course requirements.



NAR fees - $80/mo

Difficult part may be finding a broker, but use your contacts - social and business fraternities - I'm sure you know someone who's a real estate broker.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
Jaime, there have been quite a few questions that have asked for advise on how to buy/sell a house without a realtor. One of these has been discussed quite recently, it might be worth a look for you. Just ignore some of the sidebar discussions. There is quite a bit of good advise on that particular thread amidst some noise.
I don't think you need a license, but you definitely need to educate yourself so you are prepared for whatever you may encounter. Being lawyers who have dealt some with real estate law is definitely to your advantage.
I wish you the best of luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
Thanks for the honest answer folks... my fiancee and I are both lawyers that have dabbled a little in real estate law...but it is very good to hear all of the steps that need to be taken and the expenses that come along with it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
u r looking at getting a license for wrong reasons.
Real estate agency is a sales profession.
It is a business.
The average agent in the country makes $15000 a year and may be spends a few thousands to be in the business.
Will u ltake Microsoft certification to fix ur computers?
Look into the details of the service ur paying for?
Focus on ur primary business.
Use the right professionals to get the roght services.
Buying a house is not buying grocery.
Ramesh Chandra
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
Debbie you do not know the value of the property.
Jamie go ahead and get your liscence. It only cost a few thousand to get set up and with a broker. By the way the broker will still want their share so you will save 1.5%. Also your insurance will not cover you on a personal transaction. You will also have to disclose on each offer that you are liscenced and could make a profit if a buyer or seller completes a transaction with you as the property owner.
You do have years of market knowledge for the area like any go Realtor® right?
Web Reference: http://www.Find1Home.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Dec 6, 2009
Sure. I mean, we don't know anything about you, so, why rain on somebody's dream.

Actually, we know your favorite candies aren't M&Ms!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 5, 2009
Be aware that not all companies will give an accommodation to newly licensed agents....or to agents who have no production.
And...........you would only get your share of the commission back..I am sure the company would keep their share, especially considering you are new.
is it really worth getting a license for that?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 5, 2009
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