Are you looking for a change in career? Perhaps you would like to get back into the workforce after some time in retirement? It is never too late to start a new career path!
In fact, your golden years are a prime opportunity to get into a new field. You have years of both life and professional experience that can ease the transition and give you insight into a new skill set. The American Institute for Economic Research shows that most older workers who make a career change are successful, especially if they can utilize skills they already have. Becoming a real estate agent is an excellent choice for seniors for a variety of reasons. You won’t be alone either; according to the National Association of Realtors, the average realtor is 57 years old.
If you’re enjoying your golden years and are interested in becoming a real estate agent, you likely have questions on how to get started. We created this guide for senior job seekers to give you all the information you need to follow your new passion, and will discuss why realty could be a great full- or part-time option, how to get your career going and helpful resources to guide you on your new career path.
Why is Real Estate a Good Option for Seniors?
Although becoming a real estate agent requires a license and some training, seniors have been in the workforce for years and can utilize many of the skills they may have from personal and career experience. If you have any business experience, your skill sets in negotiation, marketing and client acquisition will allow you to get the first jump on making money from your new career. Any senior with experience in customer service or working with people will have an edge in real estate because once you acquire clients, convincing them to buy a home with you is where you will make your money. Most seniors also have the personal life experience of purchasing their own home, allowing insight into the customer perspective.
Another wonderful benefit of being a realtor is the flexibility it offers. It can be a full- or part-time career simply depending upon the amount of time you want to dedicate to it and the money you want to make. For the most part, you can make your own schedule. Sometimes the client’s schedule will dictate when you meet with them, but the research required on behalf of the client can be completed on your own time. You will need to interact with clients often, updating them as you receive new information on their homes or homes in their price range. If you live alone, becoming a real estate agent is a wonderful way to avoid social isolation.
In addition, realty is a great option for seniors because there are many senior homebuyers who feel more comfortable working with agents close to their own age. There is a special certification provided by the National Association of Realtors for realtors of any age to specialize in real estate for seniors; however, there are many senior homebuyers who prefer to work with someone in their age range because of similar life experience. Seniors offer personalized perspective on any need that seniors who are buying or selling a home may have, including how to downsize, how to find a home for aging-in-place and how to find a home with the necessary modifications or accommodations for comfortable living.
How to Get Started
If realty sounds like a great career fit for you, the first thing you need to do is research the amount of education you need for your real estate exam. Each state has different requirements. For example, California requires three college courses from an accredited school, totaling 135 hours.
The next step is to find a brokerage to work for, like Redfin! Redfin is a technology-powered real estate brokerage that is changing the way people buy and sell homes. Redfin real estate agents use the most advanced technology to deliver the best customer experience in the industry. Full-time Redfin agents earn a salary and benefits.
After you contact a broker and they take you on as either an employee or an independent contractor, you can take your licensing exam. In order to take the exam, you have to pay for and pass a criminal background check. Each state also has its own exam for obtaining a license. A conservative estimate for costs covering education, the exam and fees usually start around $200.
Keep in mind that if you are retired and you are younger than 67, your Social Security benefits might be reduced. If your income rises above a certain threshold, your Social Security benefits may become taxable. Planning out your finances is beneficial for you to determine a reasonable amount of weekly hours to work with clients so that you do not lose any of your current income.
Resources for Seniors
Although there are relatively few resources specifically for senior real estate agents, there are quite a few resources for seniors looking to change careers late in life.
This resource from Kaplan Real Estate Education provides the requirements of several states for getting your real estate license.
The AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) has a plethora of information on working after the age of fifty.
The American Institute for Economic Research has published this free guide for New Careers for Older Workers. Simply enter your email address into the form provided and they will send you a copy.
If you’re interested in working with a senior clientele, it’s also important to learn about the common topics these homebuyers may have questions about:
The National Aging in Place Council created this website with a wealth of information on how seniors can safely live in the comfort of their own homes throughout retirement.
Eldercare.gov, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, offers valuable information on home modifications for seniors, including which ones may be right for your clients and how to get them affordably.
Whether they’re buying or selling their home, many seniors choose to downsize by clearing excess clutter they don’t want to take to their new residence, purchasing a smaller home or both. This guide from the Family Caregiver Alliance has wonderful insight on how to make the process of downsizing as seamless as possible.
Realty in Your Golden Years
If you are still worried about getting back into the workforce or changing careers late in life, you should know that the average baby boomer has held almost 12 different positions before they were 48 years old. You are in great company! More than 85 percent of homebuyers purchased their home through a real estate agent in 2015, and 88 percent of these individuals reported that they enjoyed working with their agent so much that they would recommend their services to friends and family.
As a senior with both professional expertise and life experience under your belt, you have the skills necessary to succeed in a real estate career. Helping people find the homes of their dreams is a wonderful way to enjoy this special time in your life!