5 Options for Your North Carolina Real Estate Career Path

North Carolina real estate broker showing a new empty office space to young male and female business owners

It’s never too early to begin thinking about the next steps of your North Carolina real estate career. As a broker, you have so many options for your future, including venturing into niche or commercial markets, earning professional designations, entering into branch management, or becoming a broker-in-charge. Here’s an overview of some of the options to help you decide where your North Carolina real estate career path is headed from here.

1. Work for a big-time or small-time brokerage

Most brokers go this route, so if that is your choice, you’re not alone—and you are making a wise decision as you launch your career. Working with a broker-in-charge provides you with the chance to learn the ins and outs of the real estate industry first-hand without having to take on the responsibilities of running your own business.

In fact, many North Carolina brokers—even those who obtain their broker-in-charge designation—remain with a firm their entire careers because the situation works for them.

2. Focus on residential-only real estate

As a new broker, chances are you’re starting out in the residential sector serving and representing buyers—and you may find that’s where you want to stay. Some real estate salespeople find serving buyers and sellers so fulfilling that they never branch out into other areas.

Focusing on residential properties offers you a great deal of variety because you work with a range of clients on a variety of properties. Plus, even in rough markets, people need to buy and sell homes. In most cases, you’ll experience more steady compensation than other real estate markets, so it’s easier to manage your finances.

The biggest drawback to focusing exclusively on residential real estate is that you have to complete more transactions and work with more clients to yield the same profit of a single commercial sale or investment. Also, you may eventually find that the steadiness and redundancy of the job is boring or not challenging enough.

If you do choose to become a residential-only broker, consider earning a special designation from your professional real estate organization to set yourself apart from other licensees. For example, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) offers the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) distinction. Although it requires additional time and training, research has shown that CRS professionals—and those with comparable designations—earn more than their competitors.

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3. Specialize in a niche real estate market

If you serve a niche real estate market, the majority of your business comes from clients who buy properties within that niche. So as you learn your local market and discover that your area is known for a particular type of property, you may find that you want to focus your efforts on those properties. For example, beach or lake homes, farms and ranches, city lofts, cabins, or affordable housing.

The key to selling niche properties is that you often have to take baby steps, also selling other properties to make a living, while you build your reputation as the go-to broker in that market.

4. Break into commercial real estate sales

In this case, you are focusing on North Carolina real estate used for business purposes, including office buildings, strip malls, hotels, parking, theaters, sports arenas, and so on. Commercial sales are appealing because profits tend to be high. One sale could yield as much commission for you as five or more residential sales.

That said, the risk is also higher, so you should definitely take some specialized training in this area before you venture into the commercial market.

5. Own your own brokerage

Going into business for yourself certainly comes with its own rewards. Having independence and control over your own business is highly appealing, and you stand to make a great deal of money.

However, the risks are high, and statistics show that many new businesses fail because owners don’t fully understand the work that is involved. It’s critical that you dedicate time to developing the leadership, management, public relations, and general business skills you need to be a competent broker-in-charge. Not all brokers—even the top earners—are cut out for this type of real estate career path.

You’ll also need to invest in additional certification and training and understand the various regulations involved with becoming a broker-in-charge in North Carolina. To run your own real estate business, you first must obtain the broker-in-charge (BIC) designation. Get information on how to do that here.

Finally, before you make the move, it’s always a good idea to consult with:

  • An attorney who is knowledgeable about real estate laws, regulations, and policies
  • An accountant and loan officer about the financial investment involved
  • And a successful broker-in-charge who you trust and admire about his or her own experience

Ultimately, if you decide to go into business for yourself, this opens up several North Carolina real estate career path options. Choices include purchasing an established brokerage, launching your own company from the ground up, opening a brokerage with partners and investors, or running a small one-person shop out of your home.

Even if you decide not to move forward with running your own brokerage, obtaining the broker-in-charge (BIC) designation is a smart move because it increases your overall understanding of the industry. It can even land you a promotion—to associate broker-in-charge or branch manager—within your current firm.

As you continue along your chosen North Carolina real estate career path, don’t forget to keep your goals for the future in mind. Invest time and money in certifications, licenses, and designations that can set you apart from the pack now—and help you achieve your real estate career goals later.