I said in the last real estate feature that I feel like most people think they know a lot more than they actually do about buying and selling commercial real estate for lease. It seems like everyone who’s watched a few hours of HGTV thinks they are an expert on flipping houses, but so few people seem to be out there actually pulling the trigger.
To put that theory to the test, I set up another meeting with my friends Melissa Gulla and Amy Logan from RE/MAX. In order to add a fresh perspective from someone new to the business, we were joined by Melissa’s son, Mark Gulla, who recently received his real estate license.
Between these three real estate professionals, I knew I was in for another great lesson in all of the work that real estate agents put in behind the scenes to help sell houses right here in Beaver County. We also spent a lot of time talking about what it takes to become a real estate agent in Beaver County.
I had a hunch that real estate is a much more complicated business than most people think. What I found is that there are even more details that these agents handle than I ever imagined.
Our New Edition: Mark Gulla
We started off our conversation by asking Mark what it was that made him want to get into the real estate business.
After completing his business management degree from Robert Morris University, it only took Mark one interview to realize that he was not interested in working in a corporate environment.
(He is actually one interview up on me. My mother bought me a new suit when I graduated college and I have never gone on a single interview. Sorry, Mom.)
During Mark’s time at Robert Morris, he had spoken with a woman who told him that the real estate business could use some fresh young agents.
From watching Melissa over the years, Mark already knew that becoming an agent would allow him to run his own business however he saw fit. He also knew that his earning potential would only be limited by the amount of work he was willing to put in.
With the idea of helping a fresh generation of Beaver County residents find their next home, Mark set off on a mission to get his real estate license.
Becoming a Real Estate Agent
The process of becoming a real estate agent is actually very straightforward, but there is an awful lot of information that you need to learn. You can get this information by taking a course that is offered bi-annually at Penn State Beaver, or you can opt for the online version. There are also courses offered by many other companies at different locations throughout the year.
Mark decided to go the online route, which is where he discovered that the material involved included 18 textbook chapters that each contained approximately 250 pages of information.
Melissa and Amy explained that most of the information in those chapters is referred to as “book theory” and forms the foundation for the knowledge base that good agent provide for their clients.
This means that licensed agents are working from a base of almost 5000 pages of book theory that they have studied. That is a lot more information that you are going to get out of a few episodes of Property Brothers on a Wednesday evening.
Changes Over the Years
It was also interesting how Amy noted that the process of getting your real estate license today is very different from when she got her start in the business. When Amy got her license, there were only 16 hours of class time required.
Quite a bit has changed over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that selling real estate is a details oriented business. Having someone with plenty of experience can help you avoid a number of costly mistakes.
Mark was quick to point out that after passing his exams, he has had the benefit of rolling right into a real estate career where he is working with two of the top three realtors in Beaver County as his mentors. He explained that all of the book theory he had to learn did not prepare him for the overwhelming amount of details that a good real estate agent covers on a day-to-day basis.
Learning from two of the best in the business, Mark is picking up on a number of pointers with respect to property details, paperwork, organization, and how negotiations are conducted.
Based on all the things that Mark discussed learning from Melissa and Amy, I could not imagine handling the entire process of selling my house without their help.
Melissa pointed out that simply limiting the people you show the house to by requiring pre-approvals can be a huge time saver. She explained that many people who opt to sell their homes themselves think that they made a good decision until the buyer can’t qualify for financing.
Then there are some of the more complicated issues in Beaver County today like FHA loans and negotiating oil, gas, and mineral rights. Having an experienced, full-time realtor to walk you through these minefields can be a lifesaver.
Establishing a Client Base
As we closed out our lunch, I asked Mark what he thought his biggest challenge was going to be to get his real estate business up and running. Without hesitating he told me that establishing a client base is the most difficult thing for any new agent.
Melissa and Amy both nodded in agreement.
All of the best real estate professionals have built their client bases through years of hard work, networking, and lots of referrals. In order to get to that point, you have to spend a long time networking. You also have to sell houses to get referrals for more listings.
Building a client base can be a difficult process. Many agents, particularly part-time agents, will throw in the towel way before they ever reach the point where their business is what they envisioned it would be.
The bottom line is that there is a whole lot more to the real estate business than you might think.
Going through all of the things that Mark has learned from the nearly 5000 pages of book theory and hours upon hours of learning from Melissa and Amy, there is no way I would attempt to handle a sale myself. I’d call the experts.
Want more information from Melissa, Amy, or Mark about buying or selling a house in Beaver County?
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