Careers as a realtor and a residential loan originator can be a grind, but they come with great rewards.
By Megan Reed
A career in real estate is rewarding in several ways. People who work in this industry help other people make the largest purchases of their lives. Real estate professionals have a greater control over their day than a person with a typical 9-to-5 job. And real estate professionals can live a financially comfortable life.
“I love this career,” said Brenda Robinson, a residential loan originator at New American Funding in Ladera Heights. “I’ve been doing it for 30 plus years. It’s just rewarding when you’re able to put somebody in a home, especially when they thought that they could not obtain a home. We do a lot of first-time home buyer programs here.”
New American Funding’s Ladera Heights branch helps people overcome financial hurdles that can make it difficult for people to obtain a home loan.
“I wanted to be an honorable man, and I wanted to be helpful and be of a service to people,” said Michael Allen, a realtor at Keller Williams Realty Pacific Playa Office in Westchester. “I felt real estate was the choice for me.”
Allen works in Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights, Leimert Park, and surrounding areas. He is a trusted resource for answers about the home-buying process.
Robinson grew up in West Adams. She attended Immaculate Heart High School, and after receiving a BA in economics from Carleton College in Northfields, Minnesota, she returned to West Adams where she started her career and purchased a home.
Allen is from South Los Angeles. He attended John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, and he graduated from Cal State Northridge, where he started out as a business with an emphasis on real estate major, and finished as an African American Studies major.
When Allen graduated from college in 2007, he obtained his realtor’s license. But at that time the market was struggling.
“At that time a lot of realtors started leaving the industry, especially the people who made a lot of money,” he said.
Allen quickly realized the struggles of this profession, so he had to take a job as a school teacher for four years before going into real estate full time in 2012.
“When you first get your license, you get all excited and you’re like, ‘I’m about to go out and make all this money, I’m about to make more than $100,000 my first year,’” he said. “And then reality hits you, when you find out that some people can’t qualify because of credit, some people don’t have the down payment. Some people’s debt to income ratio is not there. If you have a buyer that’s trying to qualify for a home and they can’t, there’s nothing that you can do at that moment, which means that there is no sale, which means that there is no paycheck.”
For both Allen and Robinson, they are paid a commission based on the amount of business that they bring in.
“It’s not like a 9-to-5 job, where at an end of a two week period you can expect a check,” Allen said. “In real estate, if you’re not helping somebody buy or sell a home, you don’t get paid. You don’t earn an income. What you hunt is what you eat.”
While people in the real estate field can set their own hours and choose where they work from, because of the pay structure, they have to be on the grind.
“For the most part I’m on the phone all day,” Robinson said. “I’m talking to realtors, I’m taking to clients, I’m structuring deals, I’m reading guidelines, I’m seeing what will work and what will not work. I run credit reports, and obtain the documentation of the clients. I review their entire file to see if the company that I work for will issue an approval. I wish that there were more hours in a day. I’m here early in the morning, I’m here late at night, and I still have a lot of work to do.”
While there is a lot of pressure associated with this profession, a hard-working person can financially make a very good living.
“It helped me put my two kids through college, and I own a home, so it’s been financially rewarding,” Robinson said.
“The last five years have been great,” Allen said. “My business has progressed tremendously. I had a great year last year, but this year is going to be my most successful year. Being able to provide for my family lets me know that I’m successful.”
The business classes that Allen took in college steered him toward this field, but he said that to obtain a realtor’s license, a person simply has to be at least 18 years old, take required classes, and pass an exam. He said that people who are looking to enter the field take real estate courses at online colleges such as Kaplan University.
Robinson said that New American Funding is looking to hire.
“New American Funding wants people of color, people who mirror the community,” she said. “We’re looking at giving somebody the opportunity to learn this business.”
Robinson said that a person interested in entering the field does not have to have a college degree.
“As long as you have a calculator and know how to use it, that’s all you need,” she said. “I use the same HP 12 that I used 30 years ago.”
Robinson said that many people who are entering the field take classes at local colleges, as she has done.
“After I obtained my BA in economic, I came back and took classes at Southwest College, L.A. Trade Tech, and UCLA Extension,” she said. “I took finance, real estate law. Some of those classes are required to become licensed.”
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