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Featured on TLC's "Date My House", senior real estate specialist Chantay Bridges goes behind the "For Sale" sign to reveal how to become a real estate agent.(photo: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)
Senior real estate specialist Chantay Bridges of Clear Choice Realty & Associates in Los Angeles thought she would make six figures her first year in the business. “It did not happen," she said. "Your early years come with a lot of learning curves.” Building clientele and a strong reputation take time, she said. “I was under the assumption clients would come running. But I had to earn their loyalty.”
eHow spoke with Bridges, who was featured in the TLC series “Date My House” about what's behind the "For Sale" sign.
Bridges is a member of the National Association of Realtors, California Association of Realtors, South Bay Association of Realtors and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.
Senior real estate specialist, Chantay Bridges, goes behind the "For Sale" sign to talk about the facts and myths of becoming a real estate agent.
eHow: What do you like about being a real estate agent and why would you recommend it as a career?
Chantay Bridges: I absolutely love educating, assisting and helping first-time buyers solidify their dream of owning a home. It's like rescuing someone in need. It's hard to find a professional you can trust who will hold your hand and walk you through the process. I've been able to do that for so many, including seniors. Sometimes I feel like an angel in disguise when I hand over the keys to a beaming homeowner. Perhaps they have waited for this moment for years -- and I get to share it with them.
eHow: How did you get into real estate?
(photo: The basics on becoming a real estate agent. )
CB: When I knew I wanted to assist people in finding their dream home for a living, I began preparing and studying. I passed the state-proctored exam, successfully completed the mandated courses, and was off and running.
eHow: What are the requirements for a real estate license?
CB: Requirements vary state to state, but in general, you must be a U.S. citizen over the age of 18 and pass a background check. To be licensed you must successfully complete three college level courses -- Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice and an elective from a specific list -- provide transcripts, take the state-proctored exam, and pay a fee to the secretary of state.
eHow: What is a typical day in real estate like for you?
CB: No one day is the same. My days vary depending on client needs and requests.
I typically begin my day at the office answering and responding to emails. I organize them into a priority mode, handling the most urgent requests first.
But let's say I have to be in court for a probate hearing where a buyer is hoping to secure a home, everything else would take a back seat until after the court confirmation hearing. There are times when a client is flying in and may only be here in the morning. In those cases my day would start there, at my client’s choice of meeting place that accommodates their busy schedule the best. Other times I may be meeting an inspector, vendor or appraiser at a property. I structure these appointments throughout the day.
the end of my day, I sometimes return to the office and make client updates. I maintain an activity sheet. I note what was done in reference to property listings or buyer searches, what's pending, appointments that were set, offers received, etc. In addition, I revisit my emails and voice mails and return calls. I continue to reach out to title, escrow and loan officers for status updates and pending items. I may add or update a property on the MLS, order signage, riders, create fliers or just-listed postcards and open house sign-in sheets.
At times this is cut short because I have appointments with new clients waiting to meet after their work hour and I'm off and running all over again. And, oh yeah, I absolutely love it! I could hand a buyer the keys to their dream home again and again.
eHow: Is there an advantage to working for a company that offers assistance with some of the smaller tasks?
CB: Yes: name recognition, no need to develop brand or logo awareness, and many elements are already in place -- training modules, directives and mandates.
On the other hand, if the company becomes involved in an ugly lawsuit or is discovered to be operating fraudulently, everyone connected to the organization suffers, and if the company files for bankruptcy or loses a large amount of stock, it will most likely be public knowledge. The years and time it takes to develop consumer trust and appreciation may be lost.
eHow: How do you feel about "For Sale By Owner" sites and home owners choosing to represent themselves to save on the real estate fee?
CB: While the premise sounds great, in reality homeowners could be taking a great risk. There are a large number of laws and liabilities the average seller is not aware of yet can be held liable for. Instead of guessing and hoping all things will turn out fine, hire a professional who has studied real estate, is privvy to the current laws and mandates and who can best protect your interests.
If you were ill would you go to your friend or a doctor? If you have legal problems, would you seek out a relative or a lawyer? Licensed real estate brokers are experts in their fields, which includes negotiating and obtaining offers, heading off a problem before a lawsuit arises and closing a deal when buyers are unable to perform. In the long run, you could save money, time and headaches.
eHow: What are the basic real estate specialties?
CB: Agents do tend to specialize and build their reputation in certain areas like these:
- Buyers/ Sellers /probate properties ;
- Short sales '
- Residential /commercial listings ;
- REO's (real estate-owned) ;
- New construction/ condos/lofts ; and
- Multi-family unit investments.
eHow: What is the biggest surprise about working in real estate?
CB: It is really hard work: long hours, unpredictable schedule, and working on commission means there is no guaranteed return. Many people don’t realize the real estate agent performs and pays for all the collateral tasks unless they are able to hire a transaction coordinator, an assistant, a property management team.
There is, however, a sense of confidence in knowing contracts, real estate law, the loan process, and how to conduct searches. Every single property, family and deal is different.