I've been interested in real estate for quite some time, but given current conditions, I've been a bit gun shy about pursuing a career.

Asked by Kevin, Chicago, IL Sat May 28, 2011

I've thought of going to work for one of the apartment leasing agencies in Chicago, but given what I've read about them on YoChicago and other places, I'm thinking this might not be a wise move. So my question is twofold: can a person new to the profession make a decent living in Chicago (and by decent I mean $50K or above ... I don't want to get into it and make only $30K), and what market is best to focus on: apartment rentals, condos, houses? I should note that I do have sales experience, just would be new to real estate. I'd appreciate some honest answers.

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Christopher Pagli’s answer
Christopher…, Agent, Tarrytown, NY
Sat May 28, 2011
Hi, real estate is a 24/7 business. You can achieve your financial goal if you have the proper resources and referral base. If you let anybody you already know and anybody you come in contact with know you are in real estate you can hopefully get some business right away. I would also meet with some agencies and discuss the current state of your market in Chicago. I live in NY and in my county alone we have about 8,000 agents so your success will also depend on your competition and if you can get your foot in the door to compete with them. Apartment rentals are a totally different ballgame then selling. you may consider meeting with an agency that does both so you can experiment. It's tough everywhere right now but if you keep the fighter attitude, strategically market yourself, and work smart you can do very well in this business.


Web Reference:  http://raveis.com/chrispagli
2 votes
Wayne Beals, Agent, Chicago, IL
Mon May 30, 2011

An interest is a good start, but you have to have a passion for what you do to be successful. If money is your sole motivator, you'll quickly realize Med School might be easier than getting a firm footing in the real estate biz and certainly being a M.D. pays better.

Know what you're why is, follow your interest with intent, and you'll be very successful. Real Estate has many paths to follow. You can work with developers reshaping communities, first time home buyers growing roots, college students looking for the perfect crib, Fortune 500 tycoons searching for secluded lakefront mansions, entrepreneurs looking for great spots for small retail businesses, and all points in between. Whatever path you choose, as long as you're enjoying what you do, your clients will feel it. Success and leadership opportunities will follow.

A further note. The Broker coursework and licensing is just the beginning of the road. As you gain experience you'll develop an arsenal of skills that will help you reach you goals. The key is to stay engaged in the business and not treat your career as a paycheck. This business is too hard to get into it for the money. Become an investor instead if money drives your train. Realtors have to work hard for our clients, even when it doesn't translate into compensation. This means advising clients of transaction liabilities when it might derail the closing and kill your own paycheck.

Wayne Beals
Keller Williams
312 77 BEALS
312 772-3257
Web Reference:  http://www.waynebeals.com
0 votes
Matt Laricy, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sun May 29, 2011
Honestly, you can make a lot of money or a little money in real estate. You get what you put into it. Its a 24/7, demanding job. You always have to be on.There is no down time. If you follow this structure, you can make more money than you need. If you want to just do it part time, and not be that into it, then you wont make that much. Its as simple as that. You dont need experience in sales. You just need to be willing to do a lot of hard work, and be very self motivated. No one is going to yell at you for not making sales. Id be willing to discuss this in further detail if your really interested.

Matt Laricy
Americorp Real Estate
Brokers Associate, e-PRO
Web Reference:  http://AmericorpRe.com
0 votes
Joe Schiller, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sat May 28, 2011
#1) Do It- get it off your plate
#2) work for a big producer and make $30,000 your 1st year as an assistant grunt ..learn from a pro.
#3)it has very little to do with sales experience and much to do with work and organization
#4)your most likely not going to get rich..lots of very smart, very hardworking in the business
#5)The way to the top? Practice, Practice, Practice

please mark as helpful if it is and use my website below for more face time.
Web Reference:  http://www.joeschiller.net
0 votes
Scott Hulen, , 64068
Sat May 28, 2011
Think of becoming a real estate agent in the same vein as opening our very own business where you are going to invest your heart, mind, body and soul into your business. Where you stand to make a great living, be your own boss; call many of your own shots in regard to where you spend your money. But like owning your own business if it fails it can really cost you. I know very few highly successful agents meaning they clear over 100k after expenses in a year. Maybe in the Midwest 1 out of 100? Chicago should be better than Kansas City with the avg price of the homes being higher. Many successful agents have a niche meaning they list hundreds of foreclosures with banks, market a subdivision, are an agent/ broker and collect revenue from their agents, they are being groomed to take over / buy an existing business and are being hand feed leads, there uncle is a big shot at Wells Fargo and they get A LOT of referrals, the bottom line is they have a marketing plan to generate revenue. As said by Lilo 20% of the agents do 80% of the work, don’t enter this business unless you will be in the top 20%. Agents who get their license and do 2-6 transactions per year are not making a living, they are doing the consumer a disservice, generally making other agents angry that they can’t fill out their paperwork and get a transaction closed. Think of it in terms of getting a haircut. Do you want the person who cuts hair 3 times per year or do you want the person who works full time and does it multiple times a week.
0 votes
Earl Ruthman, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sat May 28, 2011
Hi Kevin, you already have 2 of the qualifications of being a successful realtor, that is a genuine intererst in Real Estate and you follow Real Estate market conditions. I have worked very closely with some of the top producing Realtors ever in Chicago, and the traits that I notice that are common in almost all of those top producers is an insatiable desire to succede (some could also call it a need for money, think single mom, or head of a household with the responsibility of taking care of many kids or extended families), they also have a strong contact pool that could be ethnic based, religous based (church, synagogue, mosque etc.) or geographically based (PTA members, neighborhood heads, Chamber of commerce based). Also they have a laser like focus on what they need to do, and not worry about what others are doing. They are from all over the world (not necessarily original US citizens, they have verying degrees of education (in Real Estate a Harvard MBA doesn't necessarily trump a desire to win), and they always push the envelope a little harder to increase their chances of success (follow up harder and longer and never take no as an answer). Yes, it is challenging to make a decent wage in real estate in Chicago right now, but the advantage you have is being new to the industry you don't have that ceiling of fear or worry of a bad market that many veterans carry with them. If you believe you want to have a career as a realtor, go ahead and get your license, affiliate with an office that you believe will push and support you, and hit the ground running. After 24 years as an area Realtor I can tell you I feel very fortunate that I did just that every day. The best school in Chicago to get your license at is the Real Estate insttute, they offer home study and Classroom licencsing classes that begin every day. Visit them at http://instituteonline.com , Good Luck!
Web Reference:  http://instituteonline.com
0 votes
., , Cape Coral, FL
Sat May 28, 2011
Real estate agents enter the profession from all walks of life. Some become a real estate agent for the money, while others are attracted to the glamor, excitement and challenges of selling property. For many, a real estate career offers the opportunity to be your own boss, and that reason is a motivating factor for those who want to get out from under the thumb of corporate America.
How Much Does an Average Real Estate Agent Earn?
Most first-year real estate agents earn very little, primarily because they are struggling to learn the business while they build a client base. As the years go by, agents can rely on referrals from satisfied clients to continue building their business. According to Salary.com, most real estate agents earn on average between $34,000 and $45,000 annually. How much agents make depends on the number of transactions they complete, the commission paid to the brokerage and their split with the sponsoring broker.
Contrary to popular belief, most real estate agents sell only 4 to 6 homes a year. The saying is 20% of the agents do 80% of the business. In the example above, an agent who comprises part of the 80% category (that wins 20% of the business) would gross about $18,000 a year. It all depends on how hard you be willing to work and what kind of % commission you can work out with your Broker.
Good Luck
Web Reference:  http://www.LiloRealtor.com
0 votes
David Burnham, , Washington, DC
Sat May 28, 2011
It is very possible, but like Chris said, a lot will depend on who you may already know that will give you business. The first couple of months may be a little challenging, but once you get going it is possible to make $50k in your first year. One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the business early on can be turning over every stone looking for clients. If you devote 40+ hours to this in your first few months, you should be able to achieve your goal.
0 votes
Nick Pirro, Agent, Chicago, IL
Sat May 28, 2011
In Chicago, you can make a very decent living in Chicago. I would suggest working with an agency that does both rentals and sales. This will give you the opportunity to do rentals right off the bat, allowing you to earn a decent living while learning the sales end. A real estate sale is a lot more complicated than you might imagine and just because you hold a license doesn't mean you can preform a real estate sales transaction. The problem is that in Chicago there are a lot of agents who have no idea what they are doing. So, I really think starting with rentals and moving into sales is the best plan. If you need any additional info let me know. My company is hiring and I would be interested in having a conversation with you, if you wish.

Also you may want to check out my blog, just so you can see that I know what I am talking about.

0 votes
Search Advice
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more