Jim Carollo expects this to be a good year for the real estate business and he’s looking for 30 good people to prove it.
Carollo, president of Tomlinson Black Affiliate Services, said Tomlinson Black is bullish on the local real estate market. “We think the real estate business in Spokane is going to be better than it was last year.
“There’s lots of construction going on, which always creates good paying jobs. The help-wanted ads prove there’s a lot of jobs, the economy is good and t
he Seattle area is crowded.”
But, most convincingly said, Carollo, who is also the current president of the Washington State Realtors Association, are early sales indicators. “Our sales through February are up 20 percent over last year.”
Tomlinson Black retains a staff of 200 residential sales associates in Spokane and North Idaho and would like to add another 30 this year. Associates work as independent contractors and are responsible for setting their own work hours and developing their own client base.
“It’s the best way to start a business for yourself,” said Carollo. “Others require lots of capital. Once you’re in the real estate business, you are in business for yourself because you develop a client list that will be loyal and stick with you wherever you go.”
Tomlinson Black provides resources and career direction. In-branch sales managers help new agents get off on the right foot, which hasn’t always been the case in the real estate business. “They’re going to get more direction than they ever used to and they’ll get help developing a business plan - but there’s not somebody looking over their shoulder every day.”
As independent contractors, real estate agents have enough rope to succeed or fail on their own terms.
“We need to have people who are outgoing and organized and who are capable of working on their own,” said Carollo.
It doesn’t take long to determine who will succeed: “We’re going to know in 60 days who’s going to make it and who is not.”
Real estate sales is a profession best suited for those “with an entrepeneurial bent,” he said, because “we have some advantages and some disadvantages to our business.”
One advantage is flexibility: agents set their own hours. “The disadvantage is that we work when the public wants us to,” Carollo said, “so there are a lot of evening and weekend hours.”
Likewise, compensation is a double-edged sword: “The disadvantage is that we work on straight commission. The advantage is that the income potential is really quite great for the right individual.
“An agent who goes out and works hard at it is going to be more assured of success than the person who tends to work at it part-time. It is a full-time job; some people look at it as a part-time business but it can’t be.”
Beginning agents can realistically expect to earn $30-40,000 in their first year, and $50,000 is not uncommon, Carollo said. Experienced agents in Spokane may earn as much as $150,000.
“The people who do it to some extent look like they’re doing it effortlessly,” he added, though they are the ones who have worked hard to build a reputation and a client base.
Success in the business depends on two things, he said, “the ability to get out and meet people and the ability to say the right things when they do - the ability to develop relationships.”
Real estate used to be an older person’s game, but that’s changing.
“It used to be retired people trying a second career or a housewife with children grown and gone. Now young people are getting in and being successful.”