Vail Daily column: Is becoming a Realtor a good career move? |

Vail Daily column: Is becoming a Realtor a good career move?

Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

I have been thinking about a career change and someone suggested I go into real estate. I had never thought about it, but I like people and I am always interested in what properties are on the market and what they are selling for. Can you give me some criteria on what it takes to be a successful Realtor, and tell me if you think the market is already saturated with Realtors so I would not stand a chance as a new Realtor?

Dear Potential Realtor,

How exciting! Being a Realtor is a wonderful career that allows you to help a wide array of the public with one of the most important investments of their life. It can be very rewarding, or not, depending upon your attitude, skills and perseverance. The attitude you need is positive enthusiasm toward the smallest and largest client and transaction. The skills you need are a curious mind that is always open to learning more and gathering data. You need to be willing to study and​ glean information from all situations and people. Knowledge is king in this industry, so​ ​​you need to know about ​the school systems, the recreation opportunities, ​​geography, politics, etc., in the valley, as well as the inventory of homes in each ​specific ​neighborhood​. The perseverance ​is required because instant success​,​ ​although​ possible, ​is​ certainly not guaranteed.

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I worked hard for six months before I closed my first deal. Of course, interest rates were above 18 percent at the time and doing any deal was a challenge!​ Therefore, you need to have saved up a nest egg if you are going to get your license from the state and then start in full time​. You will need to be hired by one of the real estate companies in our valley​ or y​ou can go into business on your own​, as long as you have no other brokers under you. I highly advise that you find a reputable company that values new agents and will teach ​you​ all of the skills you did not learn in real estate school. The real estate schools teach you the contracts, laws and ethical standards, but none of the techniques of dealing with people and negotiating important issues​, how to handle and cultivate a database and what to do with complicated contracts and closings.

There are companies in the valley that value new brokers. We always say we are constantly “looking for talent” and I am sure we are not the exception in this department. As far as the saturation of the market with licensed brokers, I, of course, have my opinion of that, too. There are over 650 currently active, licensed Realtors in this valley. As in most businesses, the 80/20 rule applies most of the time … 20 percent of the brokers do an excellent job and 80 percent do a good but not an excellent job for their clients. So, if you decide you are going to be one of the 20 percent of excellent brokers, then there is plenty of room and business for you, here, or anywhere.

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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