Real estate professionals must be able to research, analyze, negotiate, plan and market. They often work long days.
Before discussing skills and career paths, first think about this question: 'What am I good at?'
An honest self-assessment is a good place to begin before thinking about any career.
Imagine a straight line axis with two extreme personality attributes at opposite ends: 'analytical' versus 'people-oriented.'
Few of us are both highly analytical and highly people-oriented. Instead, we fall somewhere in between. Analytical types are comfortable with research and analysis, enjoy learning new technical skills, and problem modeling and solving. People-oriented types are extroverts by nature and prefer working with people rather than sitting behind a desk.
Certain real estate specializations tend to require more of the analytical attribute, while others require more of the people-oriented attribute. For example, commercial and industrial salespeople and managers, retail sales and property managers must be strong on the analytical side, with strong writing skills.
Residential salespeople and managing agents require strong interpersonal, negotiation and verbal skills. General, suburban real estate consultants need a heavy dose of both. Which are you?
Real estate people can never know too much. They must constantly strive to stay abreast of business trends, and think about issues - tax laws, technology or existing and proposed zoning regulations - affecting their clients, business and investments. Above all, successful real estate professionals are entrepreneurial by nature and process-oriented. They generally look for opportunities and ways to improve business. Real estate entrepreneurs are successful in most business fields and often diversify into other (non-real estate) businesses.
Most real estate agents and salespeople sell residential property, but some deal in commercial, industrial, agricultural, or other types of real estate. While you may enter the field as a real estate salesperson, you may choose to gain further training in one of these areas, or go into property management, development, appraisal or real estate agency management.