Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to Get Your Real Estate License in TN

This blog entry is pretty straight forward. I am going to tell you how to get started in real estate. Why am I doing this? Because I love my job and I know, for sure, that some of the people that read my blog would love it too. Plus I am opening an office in Rutherford County and I WANT some of my friends, neighbors, family and acquaintances to come join me. So, without further ado, here are the steps:

1) Decide you want to do it.  Ask some people in the business. Do some research. Read the rest of this blog. I know, this sounds dumb as a first step. But I'm telling you, this is the most important step. Like anything worthwhile, it is a lot of work. Just the process of getting your license is a lot of work. It's not necessarily hard work, just a lot of it. If you just think you might want to maybe do it, you won't. Decide you are going to do it and then do it. Making this decision 100% will determine the outcome.

2) Assess your finances. Now that you know you are going to do it, figure out when you are going to do it. The "when" can depend on the $$$, at least a little bit. It will take a relatively small, but significant, up front investment to get it done. I will summarize the fees below. PLEASE look over that before you start as you will need to have much of that money up front. It will start to feel like you are bleeding money. It won't hurt as bad if you are prepared for it though.

3) Decide how you want to do it. Are you OK taking classes online? Do you have the time to go to real estate school all day, 5 days a week for 2 weeks? Do you need night classes? All of those options are available. Here are some resources:
  •   This is the school I used. I did the day classes and really enjoyed it. I learn better that way. I am not disciplined enough to do that much content online. Some are, I am not. CLI's in person 60 hour pre-licensing class is $350 (paid for A and B together)
  •   Heard a lot of good things about this school. Trees' 60 hour pre-licensing class is $350 (paid upfront). They have a location in Murfreesboro and Nashville.
  •  Relatively new school in the Nashville area. I know the director. He's a good guy and a smart Realtor. Success Real Estate's pre-licensing in person class is $350, their online version is $259.
4) Enroll in the courses, attend every meeting, absorb as much as possible. Once you finish the first courses, (Pre-Licensing A and B) you will be given a certificate to fill out and you can schedule your test.

5) Start talking to managing brokers. You may have already done this. If you haven't, you should now. Interview them. Hopefully they will interview you. Be wary of brokers that make wild claims or ones that assume you belong at their office without even knowing your name. Some offices like to "warehouse" licenses and won't offer the support you need to get started. For some, this is fine. For most, you will have a hard time being successful. Ask a lot of questions. Here are just a few:
  • Ask what they pay for you (cards, signs, marketing, copies, lockboxes, office space). All of them are slightly different. See which one fits better. 
  • Find out their commission split and their policy on growing this. 
  • Ask what their training actually entails. All brokers are going to tell you they will train you. Few actually do a good job of it. 
  • Do they offer a mentorship program? 
  • Does that program cost you any money? Some charge just to participate, some charge only when the lead closes. I know which one I would prefer!
  • Do they offer leads? 
  • Does participation in their lead system cost you money?
  • Are the leads that are generated "scrubbed" or "raw"? This is a big deal. If you get 400 leads a month but they are all "Michael Jackson" or have phone numbers of (123) 456-7890, are they really leads?
  • What sets that brokerage apart from others?
  • What activities are going to be expected of you (open houses, floor time, cold calls, direct mail, etc.)?
  • What is the office's target market (where does the office spend its marketing dollar, can you capitalize on that)?
  • Does the office market itself?
  • What "fees" does the office charge? Some charge a "desk fee", some charge a "marketing fee", some charge a "technology fee". Some charge no "fees", per se but they charge a set amount on each transaction. This can vary widely and you may have to ask several different times and different ways to get the full answer. If it feels like they are covering something up, run.
You will be tempted to focus solely on the commission split. I encourage you to look deeper. An office can give a big split but then turn around and nickel and dime you for every little thing (copies, custom marketing, leads, signs, etc.). This structure may be fine for you if you are more independent and going to do a lot of that stuff yourself anyway. Other offices give a decent split and give good services. Some offer a low split but do EVERYTHING for you. It truly is about finding the right fit for you.

6) Take your state and national test. There is one test location in our area. PSI Exams--1100 Kermit Drive, Suite 103 (close to the airport). Cost is $55. Study for this test. Some of the schools offer a cram session (usually around $100). I highly recommend you take this test as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more information will leak out of your brain.

7) You will be told immediately if you pass or not. Assuming you passed, you have to register for the 30 hour "Course for New Affiliates." Pretty much everyone offers that class as a correspondence class. Most charge $185 for it. Finish it quickly, turn it in, get your certificate.

8) With all the paperwork and certificates you have accumulated at this point, you are ready to ship it off. Finish interviewing managing brokers and decide who you want to affiliate with. They should be able to put your package to send to the State together for you. You will have to have Errors and Omissions Insurance (~$250 for 2 years, prorated) and will pay an application fee of $110.

Below is a summary of the required fees/charges you will run into:

Total Cost:
Pre-Licensing Course                                                   $350
PSI Exam                                                                       $55
Course for New Affiliates                                            $185
State Application                                                          $110
Local/State/National Realtor Association application   $200 (GNAR)
Local/State/National Realtor Association dues             $525 (GNAR, prorated based on when you join)
Errors and Ommissions Insurance (can vary)               $250/two years, prorated
Sentri-Lock access card                                               $120/year, prorated
Realtracs New User Fee                                                $25
Realtracs Membership                                                  $112/quarter

Some other costs you will likely incur:
  • Business cards--could be free from your brokerage, could cost anywhere from $20-$100 for your first few
  • Signage--again, could be free from your brokerage, could cost as much as $100 each (or more!)
  • Lockboxes--sentrilocks (electronic, very safe) cost about $100. Combination key boxes are $15-$30. Buy these as you need them--don't stock up on them in the beginning
  • Marketing--be cautious about this money. Outside companies will bombard you with all kinds of promises. The best initial marketing is free--call people, tell them what you are doing, knock on doors, hold open houses. Bottom line--MEET PEOPLE, TELL THEM WHAT YOU ARE DOING and ASK FOR BUSINESS.
I write this not to discourage you. I want some fresh ideas, new agents in my office. If you want to do this, I want you to do it. I also want you to be prepared for it. I want you to be able to focus on the important stuff because you are not freaking out over whether or not you can afford to pay for MLS access. At our office, we can get you started quickly. You can be on the lead network in just a few weeks. You will get scrubbed, real leads almost immediately. Best part is, you don't pay for those leads until you close them. I would love to tell you more. Let me know if you are interested.


Gary Hickerson said...

May God bless you in opening your new office.

Ashley Mcgowan said...

This info. was extremely helpful. Thank you!

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