Real estate agent income

5 Ways to Earn More Real Estate Agent Income as a First-Year Realtor®

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Did you know you can earn a great real estate agent income even if you don’t have a massive book of business or a sphere of influence? 

I’m going to tell you how you can maximize your income in your first year in real estate whether you’re a bit of an introvert or someone new to the area with absolutely no contacts (other than your family and pets, of course).

I first began my real estate career in the State of Georgia, in a town called Warner Robins in 2012. I’m going to share with you my approach as a new Realtor® in Warner Robins and then starting over as a first-year real estate agent in a new state after we moved to Illinois.

My approach and technique were completely different in both states, and I want to share what worked and what wasn’t so effective so you can have an amazing first year in real estate! 

During my career as a Realtor, I’ve learned from many of the mistakes other real estate agents make (particularly with marketing).


First: What is a Real Estate Sphere of Influence?


If you’re new to real estate or researching information before becoming licensed, you might be wondering what a real estate sphere of influence is exactly…

Simply put, a sphere of influence is a circle of all of the people you know and who they know that you may be able to “influence” to make a sale. This can include family, friends, acquaintances, your hairstylist, your preacher, etc. You get the gist.


Communicate with your Sphere of Influence


You want to keep your SOI close, contacting them at least quarterly, so that they keep you at the forefront of their minds when they think of real estate. The last thing a Realtor wants to see is a friend or family buying a home through another Realtor. 

Unfortunately, this happens more than you’d think. Even though they know you, that doesn’t mean that they automatically think of you or trust you with the largest purchase or sale of their lives. You have to earn their business. 


Real Estate Math Problems


Some stress over the math portion of the real estate exam, but they’re really not that difficult to understand!

Here are some commonly used real estate math formulas:

  1. Commission: Commission = Sales Price x Commission Rate – Everyone wants to know what the average real estate commission percentage is. It is actually a violation of Realtor® ethics to market a “standard commission”. 

  2. Total Rent: Total Rent = Monthly Rent x Number of Months

Here are some sample real estate math exam problems solved:

  1. A property is listed for sale at $300,000 with a 6% commission. What is the total amount of the commission for the sale? Answer: $18,000 ($300,000 x 0.06)

  2. A property is listed for rent at $2,000 per month with a lease term of 12 months. What is the total amount of rent over the term of the lease? Answer: $24,000 ($2,000 x 12)

  3. A buyer wants to purchase a property with a loan amount of $200,000 at an interest rate of 4% over a 30-year term. What is the monthly payment on the loan? Answer: $954.83 (calculated using the formula: P = L[c(1 + c)^n]/[(1 + c)^n – 1], where P is the monthly payment, L is the loan amount, c is the monthly interest rate (0.04/12), and n is the number of payments (30 years x 12 months/year).

  4. A property is being sold for $200,000 with a down payment of 20%. What is the amount of the down payment? Answer: $40,000 ($200,000 x 0.20)

  5. An investor wants to purchase a property and rent it out. The property has an asking price of $300,000 and the investor wants to make a return on investment (ROI) of 5%. What is the minimum monthly rent the investor needs to charge to achieve their desired ROI? Answer: $1,500 ($300,000 x 0.05/12)

Common Real Estate Calculations


In real estate, there are many calculations that can be done to determine various factors, such as:

  1. Return on Investment (ROI) – The amount of profit or loss made on an investment.
  2. Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate) – The ratio of net operating income to property value.
  3. Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM) – The relationship between a property’s sale price and its annual rental income.
  4. Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR) – The ratio of net operating income to debt payments.
  5. Cash on Cash Return – The annual return on an investment expressed as a percentage of the initial cash investment.

These calculations can help real estate investors and developers make informed decisions about potential investments and evaluate the financial viability of a property.

How to Earn $50000 as a New Realtor


Real Estate Agent Income in Georgia


I had worked as a banker for 8 years. I was sitting in my Wells Fargo office, frustrated because after my Manager had quit. I applied for her position and was told I was “too valuable in my current position”. So I decided to go to real estate school in my spare time, while I was working full-time.. I didn’t need to find a real estate school near me because you can take the courses online. 

As the Personal Banker II/Business Banker, I was responsible for leading the office conference calls and reporting numbers multiple (so many) times a day to the District Manager, all while trying to hit my sales goals and make sure everyone in the office was hitting their numbers. So I was doing the Manager’s job without being given the title, position, or pay raise.

I had actually spoken to a real estate broker several years earlier but felt that it wasn’t the right time for me to quit my job and start selling real estate full time. You really need to have a good nest egg (emergency fund) built up before you make such a drastic decision (unless your spouse is the primary income earner and you’re not counting on your income).

So the first thing I did in Georgia was I joined an experienced real estate agent’s team. The original deal was that he was going to pay me 50% of all the homes I sold, in exchange for administrative/social media marketing duties, and if I chose to list a home, he’d take 20%.

This was after the main brokerage I was affiliated with took 20% of my income. So let’s say I sold a $100,000 home on the buyer’s side and the commission was $3,000 (or 3%). The broker took his 20%, leaving me with $2400, and the Realtor® whose team I was part of would take his 20%. I also had to pay an administrative fee of 1.5% of each transaction, and this left me with a little less than $1,900 before taxes and expenses.

This was a terrible set up from the get-go. Forget about the fact that the guy I worked with was a narcissistic a-hole. I wasn’t set up to maximize my real estate agent income during my first year. After two weeks of no sales, tons of “busy work”, and after having him telling me that I wasn’t allowed to bring a Chic Fil A cup into his office (oy vey), I walked away and decided to go it alone as an independent agent.


Week One as an Independent Real Estate Agent


Within a couple of days of moving to my own tiny office, I sold my first house! It was a floor duty lead, and I showed the couple 4 or 5 homes before they made an offer on the one they loved! Unfortunately, it took us 3 months to close on this property since it was being financed with Wells Fargo (go figure…I couldn’t get away from them lol).

But I did it! While I waited for that property to close so I could get paid, I was able to sell a couple of other properties. I was taking advantage of floor duty whenever I could, and I was emailing and calling everyone in my sphere of influence. But I really had no idea what I was doing.


The Slowest Month for Real Estate Sales


Everyone says December is the slowest month in real estate. It makes sense. It’s cold, snowy, windy, and downright miserable to get out. Plus everyone is focused on Christmas and the holidays with their families so they usually take a break from house shopping.

I was originally licensed in July of 2012, and my first December I actually closed on 5 homes! I wasn’t in an affluent area, so my commission was only about $10,000, but I was pleased with that! It was a GREAT December!

Take advantage of the “slow months”. You are building a business while other agents are on vacation. Continue communicating with your sphere and prospecting in the offseason, and when Spring comes, you’ll reap the rewards.

My First Year Income as a Real Estate Agent


So now we get down to it…how much did I make my first year as a real estate agent in Georgia? My total gross commission was about $20,000 from July – December 2012. After expenses and fees, I think I showed a profit of $6,000. I remember cringing when I wrote the check for desk fees in the amount of $50 to my broker. I was on a strict budget, and if we were going to make this work, I had to count every single penny. Little did I know that $50 was next to nothing for an office/desk fee.

A great way for more experienced agents to save money on desk fees is to join Real Broker, a virtual brokerage. I joined Real last year and saved so much money in unnecessary fees and expenses.


Starting Over as a New Real Estate Agent with No Sphere of Influence


We moved to Illinois to be closer to family in late 2014 after the birth of my daughter (our unexpected blessing). As Y’all may know, life has a tendency of throwing you curve balls, and God has a plan for you, whether you expect it or not!

We settled in, and the Realtor® who sold us our new home kept trying to bring me on board with her team. I told her that I’d been on a real estate team before and it wasn’t the greatest situation, so I had reservations about joining a team again.

One thing you should know about the State of Illinois is that everything is more expensive in Illinois. If I was to be a licensed, independent real estate broker in my area, it was going to cost me over $1,000 per month, and that didn’t even buy me an office (let alone a cubicle).

How the hell does anyone make any money if their expenses are so high? So I spoke with my local Realtor and she explained that as a licensed assistant, I would only have to pay half of the office dues/fees, and she believed that I would be very successful.

Part time real estate agent salary isn’t enough to pay the bills. You either need to be all in or not at all.

So I jumped in, head first, and transferred my license from Georgia to Illinois. Illinois is a reciprocal state, so all you have to do is take the real estate exam in your new state and pass in order to move your license.

Warning: With everything that’s going on during this Coronavirus pandemic, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the real estate market. I believe we are headed for a housing crash.

Now might not be the time to start a new career in real estate, but if you are already in business, it’s time to hunker down.


My First Year Real Estate Agent Income in a New State


In my first year as a real estate agent in Illinois, from January 31 to October 31, 2017, I grossed $50,000! I sold 20 homes, and this was all while working from home with my preschooler.

My daughter only went to daycare 2-3 days per week, and my husband travels a lot for work. So I quickly learned to balance being a stay at home/work at home mom and career woman.

I have to say…when I was a working Mom, I was always envious of the stay at home Moms and when I was a stay at home Mom, I was always envious of the working moms.

Now I’m just thankful to be able to work from home and sneak away to have lunch with my kids at school. I’m grateful that I’m able to take quick breaks to play Shopkins and sing songs with my daughter.

So how was I able to make $50k my first year in real estate in a new (totally oversaturated) market?


Time Blocking for Productivity


I planned every single minute of every day before the day even started. I scheduled my workouts at the gym, my meals, my blogging time, my trips in the car to drop my daughter off at daycare/school and pick her up. I called that time “Driving Miss Sadie”.



Spend Time on Money-Making Activities


I don’t care what all of the veteran real estate agents who’ve been selling homes since you were in diapers say. There is absolutely NO benefit to attending networking events with other Realtors®. Don’t waste your time (especially as a newbie trying to build a book of business) networking with your competitors! Your time will be better spent on #5 below!


Don’t Waste Your Time with Open Houses


I didn’t host many open houses. Many real estate agents will tell you “Open houses don’t sell houses”. I’ve never once sold a home at an open house, although I’ve picked up a couple of buyers at open houses. My advice would be that if you’re stressed and trying to manage work/life/family balance, don’t spend too much time sitting in empty houses, praying for a buyer. Spend Sundays with your family. If you ARE going to host an Open House, consider having it open during a community yard sale Saturday. Enlist some helpers to serve lemonade and cookies on the lawn with signs pointing potential buyers and snoopers inside to check out the home. You never know who they know!


Realtors Need a Blog and a YouTube Channel


Every single real estate agent needs a website and an online social media presence. Don’t waste your money on billboards and park benches. Spend your money on building an online dominance in your market. I branded myself “The Dedicated Agent” after looking at reviews and seeing a recurring theme of “dedication”. You can start a blog for less than $100, and it is literally the best investment you can make! 

As far as YouTube goes, you can start a channel for free, and since YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world (behind Google), you can really capture your market in a way that most real estate agents are failing.

BONUS: Once you’ve reached 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours, you are eligible to apply to become a YouTube partner and start earning money through ad revenue.

If you’re interested in starting a YouTube channel but have no idea where to start, book a call with me. I’d love to brainstorm some ideas and help you get started!

Having a stellar social media presence is vital to keeping up with the millennials. Did you know that the demographic of Pinterest users is primarily women, ages 25-45, who earn over $100,000 per year?

What would happen if you created a business Pinterest profile and a blog and became the go-to source for house inspiration in your area? I bet business would explode. 

Don’t know how to start a blog? Visit my easy guide on how to start a blog (even if you have no experience).

Some stats about Pinterest, courtesy of OmniCore Agency.  The average age of Pinterest users is 40, however, the majority of active pinners are younger than 40. Millennials use Pinterest as much as Instagram.

There are 75 million users inside the US and 100 million users outside the US. 81% of Pinterest users are female.

The majority of your potential clients already use Pinterest. So why not optimize your profile to put it at the top of search results in your niche and area.

I use Tailwind to schedule my pins, and it makes things SO much easier! It literally takes a few minutes, and you’re done! You can sign up for a free trial here, and you don’t even need a credit or debit card to sign up!

Main Takeaway


If you’re looking for ways to maximize your real estate agent income, by following the steps outlined above you can possibly earn $50,000+ your first year!

It won’t be easy, but it will be well worth it! What other career allows you to work from home, on your terms, and earn six figures without a college degree? 

31 thoughts on “5 Ways to Earn More Real Estate Agent Income as a First-Year Realtor®”

  1. This was so helpful, I’ve been doing some of it but I wasn’t sure It was the right thing to do so I didn’t put enough attention. Thank you for this great article

  2. Your blog is so inspiring. I truly feel right now how you felt due to crippling perfectionism. I stayed home with my son for years when he was born and now have no direction but need to make money for our family. I got my real estate license but not sure how to start getting clients without being a pushy salesperson which I’m not at all. I’m hoping it works for me somehow. I’m going to try the blogging and maybe book a call with you someday for some direction. Love how easy you make things sound and how you make it sound possible to be a mommy and business owner.

    1. The smartest thing you can do for your real estate business in 2023 is to create and grow a brand online. Starting a blog where you showcase different neighborhoods, schools, events, etc and TikTok/instagram pages with relevant, short videos will really help. Of course, I’m also a huge fan of YouTube for business. Best of luck to you! I’m not really doing much coaching these days, but I am on your team 100%!

  3. I just found this article and am studying for my real estate license currently. Surprisingly…. IN THE SAME MARKET YOU STARTED IN!!!!

  4. Recent laws have been rather clear on the division of money between your sons and daughters in the case where you’re selling your house, and Islamic laws are especially important in this regard. But there can still be some complications attached with the whole prospect of division, it just isn’t as easy as you’d imagine.

  5. I have really enjoyed reading this and learning all the great tips for me currently doing my 75 hours to obtain my real estate license in Ga this is certainly going to be useful. I am not far from where you started out (Valdosta for me) currently I am the office manager for a real estate firm here & my boss is going to allow me to continue that as I build my business up being I am a single mother I can’t afford the gamble! Once I get my license I am going to set up a call with you on getting my youtube channel started! Again, thank you for this information. I hope to become as successful as you did once you got to Illinois.

    1. Hey Jeanna!! I went to college at VSU and life in Berrien County now. I just got my license in January and work for Century 21 Smith, Branch & Pope in Tifton, Ga (not the C21 that just opened in Remerton). If you want to get coffee one day or need a few pointers before you take your license exam I’d love to help! Feel free to email me [email protected]
      -Shelby N

  6. Thanks ! This is inspiring. I just got my Real Estate License this month. I have just moved to a new state and I don’t know anyone. Covid is definitely not helping the social aspect. I’m up for the challenge though. Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Awesome, Tracy! Congratulations on passing your license exam! It can be brutal! Don’t forget to start a YouTube channel! You’ll need it more than ever (especially with COVID), and you don’t need listings to start a channel! I’ll be uploading a video all about YouTube for Realtors this week! Be sure to check it out here.

  7. Love the insight! Learn so much, my boyfriend keeps telling me I should do this, I have been very skeptical and scared, especially to fail in this business but your blog helps! Thanks & Congrats!!

    1. It’s expensive to get into, but with the right tools and a willingness to put yourself out there and help people, you can be very successful! Just be sure to have a good nest egg in place 🙂

  8. Pingback: Real Estate Marketing Ideas for New Agents on a Tight Budget

  9. Pingback: How to Quit Your Job So You Can Work From Home or Become a Stay at Home Mom | Perfection Hangover

  10. I have always wondered how commission works for real estate agents ! My hubby has been telling me for years that is what I should be doing but it all seems a little scary being strictly commission! Thanks for the break down and congrats on your office !

    1. It’s a LOT of work for sure. That was my first year in real estate here in Illinois, and since my husband’s work has him traveling half of the month (every month), I’m focusing on the kids and my financial coaching blog. I think real estate is a very lucrative career for so many, but it just didn’t work for my schedule at this season in my life. Plus my passion is finances 😛 Thank you for your comment! Let me know if you have any questions!

  11. stick with it! I hear ya’ on starting over… as a hairstylist I can really relate – starting over in a new area can be soooo hard to regrow your client base & your reputation

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