Interview: How to Become A Real Estate Agent

Are you currently kicking around the idea of becoming a real estate agent?

Real estate is all the buzz nowadays in personal finance circles and if you're looking into how to become a real estate agent you will enjoy this interview with real estate agent Matt Lama.

Today, in our disrupting the “9-5” entrepreneur Q&A series we get the pleasure of interviewing Lama, who left his comfy job as an accountant to pursue a full-time career in real estate that allowed for more freedom back in 2017.

Fast forward to today, Matt has a beautiful family which includes his wife and four kids (all under the age of seven) and in both this video interview and article, he shares his practical advice to help you become a real estate agent!

Matt will offer pointers and the mindset you need to become a real estate agent and at the end of the article 7 actionable steps on how to become a real estate agent full-time or part-time!

Past interviews in the entrepreneur series:

How to Become a Real Estate Agent (An Interview)  

Unlike past interviews, Matt is not a blogger or a writer. Matt is actually the person who didn’t talk about getting into real estate – he did it (check out his agent profile here).

Lama quickly became one of the top real estate agents in his area and in this interview, he shares his perspective on what it will take for you to do the same if you're serious about becoming a real estate agent!

Watch the interview here:

1. So, tell us about yourself, what’s your background prior to real estate?

Currently, I work as a full-time Real Estate Agent, which is a profession I never considered. But, I now make my own hours, I meet new people each week; and, I am constantly being exposed to land development projects, real estate investments, and county issues. Ultimately, with this job, I hope to shake up this industry by thinking outside the box of how I market and who I market to.

It has never been about the money for me, but rather having the satisfaction of serving people as they sell or purchase a home. It proves that the American Dream is real. And when a family works hard to achieve homeownership, there is a great sense of freedom and pride that comes with it.

Did I mention…?

All this happened while being 32, married with three children, and while owning a house. This means if I can do this, ANYONE can. But my household lives a life of frugality which gave us the freedom to take a leap of faith, by switching jobs in a completely different industry. Built-up savings, built-up retirement, extra investments, affordable mortgage, cars are paid off, no debt.

2. What was it that inspired you to take the leap of faith and become a real estate agent?

“Security, conformity, and conservation…”

…These three words are what we individuals absorb and take in – specifically, at an employment level. 

I was in this mindset for a while. In my previous employment, I was an Accountant for a company, punching in debits and credits.

The commute was good, the pay was decent, and the benefits were great. Work was consistent on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis.

However, despite the security that was given, I knew for a long while, there was a need for change. I needed to be stretched and to get out of my comfort zone. I needed to move on because my heart wasn’t in it. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do or where to go.

After getting my M.B.A, I had searched and applied for several jobs… None of them worked out. The one employer I wanted to work for, related to personal finance, denied me because I was overqualified. Bummer.

I went further and took multiple-aptitude tests to see what profession would be a good fit. I always talked to several people about what line of work they were in to see if there was any guidance or direction… nothing.

3. For someone considering making a career change or the jump to real estate, what would you first recommend? Did you plan things out?

A year before I left my job, I was determined to leave the company whether something was lined up or not. So I did two things:

One. I saved a year’s salary to allow me the time to figure it out (PM me if you want to know what we did to save), and 2) I sat down with my boss and verbally said “I will not be here a year from now” (I don’t recommend doing this for multiple reasons).

I had no idea what the future had, as I was entering “the fray of the unknown”. I was, however, determined that failure was not an option. So, while I approached my “determined resignation date”, I diversified my efforts by taking three measures.

  1. Pursue basic IT certifications (A+, Security +, Network+)
  2. Pursue a job with the County Fire Department
  3. Pursue getting a Real Estate license

Word of advice, when you make a move like this, create a plan, make a backup plan (…and then a backup plan to the backup plan). My fail-safe was the military.

4. What is the scariest thing about quitting your 9-5? 

Taking the leap of FAITH!

Let’s face it… the hardest part about change is not the actual change, but the initial leap of faith.

When my last day at my job had finally arrived. I walked out of those doors with no foreseeable income and a large dose of uncertainty.

…And it was the most liberating and freeing feeling I have ever had.

Life then had to get serious, though. So, after I left, I took a very proactive measure to find my next job or at least a paycheck. While I studied for the IT certifications, I also would do side business as a Real Estate Agent for Jacobs and Co. Real Estate, a small business in Northern Virginia. Business in the real estate industry picked up rather quickly. The more I worked, the more business I earned.

I actually got so busy that I had to withdraw my name from the application process for the fire department.

5. What steps did you take to become a real estate agent? 

Before any business startup, I knew that it would be a 3 year grind.

These are the “make it or break it” years. I ensured that this was what my mindset would need to be. I proceeded to take the obvious steps of being an agent by taking the real estate course (Moseley Online), I got licensed (VA DPOR), and joined a brokerage and association.

It might have been close to about $1500 startup costs upfront but well worth it. Keep in mind, we also saved over a year’s worth of my salary to protect us if things didn't work out. This took a few years to save but was key to preventing us from failing financially or going broke.

We simply did not go in this blindly. It took planning and preparation to make this successful. Lastly, I hustled. I have learned that the more you do, the more business you will have. 

6. What is some actionable advice to become a great real estate agent?

In this business, it is essential that you hustle and put up your bare knuckles for one heck of a fight. This business takes grit. 

And at the end of the day, you will be serving all sorts of clients with all sorts of needs. Therefore, “empathetic” customer service is an essential skill you either need to have or need to learn in this profession.

Clients also want you to solve their real estate problems and it is up to you to solve them. Anyone who has these things can excel at this job!

7. What is your favorite real estate quote?

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.” – Jon Krakauer

Also, check out real estate books to help you learn as much as possible!

8. What is next for you? Where do you see yourself as a real estate agent in 5-10 years?

Now fully entrenched in 2020, I’m keeping my pipeline is full, I’m continually creating my own leads, and I am on track to earn the most I have ever made.  And….I love what I am doing!

Eventually, I would like to lead a real estate team and own some rentals to continue to help grow my net worth and diversify. To say in 2017 that I thought I would be this far long would be an understatement!

9. Any parting advice you can offer to someone looking to move into a new industry or real estate?

Look, I know some of you who are reading this are not fully satisfied with your current job. Then do something about! A few recommendations if you find yourself professionally stuck…

  • Start developing a plan that will take you from point A to point B
  • Crackdown on your own money (Stop spending and pay off your debt) THIS WILL FREE YOU!!!
  • Diversify your knowledge and continue to learn
  • Meet as many people as you can, listen to what they have to say and ask questions (Network, Network, Network)
  • Leap
  • *Have a backup plan,* but don’t let it be a scapegoat! 

Hopefully, this helps you with your adventure on how to become a real estate agent, and below are the exact steps you can take to make it happen!

7 Steps to Become a Real Estate Agent:

How to become a real estate agent – the steps to make it happen.

  1. Understand your state licensure requirements. Simply visit this article that lists the requirements for every state and make sure you are aware of what your state requires!
  2. Enroll in a real estate school online
  3. Complete your pre-licensing coursework. Before sitting for your exam to become a real estate agent, check to see what your state requires beforehand. This also includes looking into possible licensing fees.
  4. Study for your real estate exam
  5. Sit for your state test and pass it! Note: Before sitting for your test, some states require that you must first find a broker to sponsor you prior to taking the test. As Matt said, networking is big in real estate so it doesn't hurt to start now! Look for local brokers in your area.
  6. Complete any other licensing or paperwork
  7. Become a real estate agent by finding a brokerage to work with and start crushing it! 

Use the helpful advice Matt provided in the interview and be sure to follow Matt on Instagram here where he posts awesome videos & content as a family man real estate agent!

Question: Have you ever considered becoming a real estate agent?