Can You Get By On a Part-Time Real Estate Broker Salary?

Two business professionals calculating whether they could get by on a part-time real estate broker salary

Becoming a real estate broker requires a giant leap of faith and a significant investment of time and money. That’s why some North Carolina real estate brokers may choose to test the waters with a part-time real estate career while hanging onto the steady income from another job. Industry veterans may also find that working for a part-time real estate broker salary provides a favorable alternative or transition to retirement or a way to balance work and family life.

Whether you’re looking into real estate career opportunities for a second job or want to start a brand new career, there are plenty of challenges on this nontraditional path. However, the rewards can be worth it.

Finding time for part-time real estate

You should align with a broker-in-charge for the office essentials and operate like a full-time professional with clear expectations about your earning potential, said Valorie Easter, a REALTOR® in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Easter worked part-time for two years while her children were young and has worked with several part-timers over the years. Here are her eight tips for effective part-time real estate:

  • Dedicate two hours a day to lead generation
  • Control your time by time blocking so you can stick to your schedule
  • Set clear expectations upfront about your availability
  • Work with a coach to map out your business
  • Receive basic training in contracts and how to price properties using comparative marketing analysis
  • Meet with/learn from service providers such as loan officers, title companies, attorneys, home warranty, and insurance companies
  • Build a concierge list of real estate professionals such as builders and plumbers
  • Join a real estate team that can handle administrative work

“If you work part-time you need to focus on generating business or going on appointments. Paperwork is not necessarily a money-maker,” Easter says.

Free Download: Learn how much you could make in North Carolina real estate with this free Real Estate Broker Income Guide.

Retired REALTOR® Lee Dworshak believes working with an established team and administrative assistant is crucial to a new agent’s success. “If you are unavailable, your team member can make the appointment.” Of course, you will also have to split your commission and it takes a while to afford your own team and administrative assistant, he said.

Needless to say, you’ll have to make some sacrifices to earn a part-time real estate broker salary or commission. To start, you may have to give up some time off and vacations, especially if you’re the sole breadwinner in the family or don’t have supplemental income to support you while you learn the ropes or build your real estate business. You’ll also have to put up with the naysayers in the business who claim you can’t be effective part-time because of the commitment expected in the industry.

For those who don’t want to “hit the pavement,” Easter recommends another method for being a part-time broker. “Create a referral network. Refer buyers and sellers out to other agents locally and across the country. You can ask for a 25 to 30 percent or more referral fee when the property closes. You really can control your time and costs with referrals.”

How much is a part-time real estate broker salary?

Agents generally work on commission, although some may earn a salary plus commission. It may take years to earn any money, says Dworshak. He recommends agents and brokers be able to cover at least a year’s worth of living expenses before starting a real estate career. The costs to get a license and other fees could be about $2,000 the first year, said Dworshak, who retired from Keller Williams’ Los Angeles office.

Determining how much you’ll make as a North Carolina broker is a big part of deciding whether the part-time real estate broker salary is right for you or if there’s a different real estate career path you could pursue. This graph from our 2022-2023 Real Estate Broker Income Guide shows the average amount brokers report earning based on how many hours they put in each week. North Carolina real estate brokers who commit less than 20 hours a week to real estate earn an average of $38,122 annually.

average income by hours worked

Real estate is often a second career

Part-time is definitely not the norm, but having a second career as a real estate agent or broker is common, according to the NAR member profile. Of members surveyed, only a small percentage reported that real estate was their first career; the majority of members had a previous career in management, business, finance, sales or retail.

Dworshak was 53 when he started in the real estate business. He believes agents and brokers are more successful coming into the field with strong business skills. Certain fields lend themselves to being a real estate sales professional or offer the flexibility to take on real estate as a side job, he said.

For more insights into how much money you can make—and how to maximize your income—as a real estate broker, download the North Carolina Real Estate Income Guide. Plus, learn if a real estate career is right for you in our free Real Estate Career Starter Kit.

Written by Roni Robbins. Roni Robbins is a 30-year journalist with business, environmental, and real estate specialties. She wrote real estate articles for Mother Nature Network, the Daily Report, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also reported for the New York Daily News, WebMD, and Adweek with stories picked up by the Huffington Post, Forbes, USA Today, and CNN.  Visit Roni’s website to learn more.