Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the questions we are most frequently asked by people inquiring about a career in real estate sales. The answers are purposely general and will vary greatly by office and individual. CENTURY 21 Kreuser and Seiler is a highly successful residential brokerage firm specializing in helping people buy and sell homes in the northern Illinois suburbs of Chicago and southeastern Wisconsin, and all questions are answered from that perspective.

1. How do real estate agents get paid?  With few exceptions, real estate agents in this area are independent contractors and are paid on a commission basis with no salary and no draw.  Agents receive payment shortly after a sale closes.

2. Do real estate agents receive any “fringe benefits”?  (health insurance, paid vacations, profit sharing, etc.) Generally speaking, no.  However, the compensation earned can be more than sufficient to compensate for not receiving the benefits normally associated with a salaried employee.

3. How much are the start-up costs?  They vary widely by office and individual agent, but plan on a minimum of $1500 to $2500. Some companies reimburse some or all of the start-up costs after an agent has met a pre-determined production level.

4. How soon after starting can a new agent expect to receive any income?  It can be as soon as 60 days, but plan on 4 to 6 months.

5. After a few years in the business, how much can a good agent expect to earn annually? $50,000 to $200,000

6. On average, how many hours per week does a successful agent actually work? 40 to 50 hours (but not necessarily in the office)

7. What do real estate agents actually do? Attend training and educational sessions, preview homes, prepare for appointments with buyers and sellers, evaluate homes for clients, show property to buyers, conduct listing presentations for potential seller clients, prepare and negotiate purchase and sale contracts follow up on contract contingencies (coordinating details with other agents, attorneys, lenders), attend closings, hold open houses, and “prospect” for new buyer and seller clients.  Generally, prospecting for new business is 50% to 80% of an agent’s job, with all the other items combined making up the balance.

8. What type of person makes a successful real estate agent? In very general terms, successful real estate agents are honest, friendly, outgoing, hard-working, organized, empathetic, self-motivated, computer literate, upbeat, emotionally and financially stable, and genuinely like meeting and working with people.  Also the more people an agent knows, or can get to know, the better the chances of success.

9. Can you start out “part-time” and then go full time when you become successful?  It’s possible, but unlikely. Our experience has been that the agent starting out part-time can’t provide the same level of service to buyer and seller clients as those agents working at the business full time. Therefore, the part-time agent rarely becomes successful enough to make the switch. (CENTURY 21 Kreuser and Seiler has only full time agents, but other real estate companies will consider hiring part-time agents).  It is sometimes possible for a part-time agent to team up with a full-time agent or function as an assistant.


10. How should you choose a company or office to work for?  Much like you would choose any other employer:  Check out as best you can things such as reputation in the community, market share, references, financial stability, agent support, and agent “turnover”, and then interview the owners and/or managers of the top offices for comparison purposes. (Most agents will ultimately choose a company based on the “feel” they get when talking to a company’s owners, managers, agents, and clients.)  In talking with different companies, ask specifically about how new agents are trained, how new business is generated and distributed, how commissions are split between agent and company, and what sales materials, advertising, phone service, etc. is provided by the company (vs. paid for by the agent)


11. Is this a good time to get into the real estate business?  Surprisingly, it is!  The number of sales and the average sale prices are obviously down from previous years, but the number of agents competing for the business is down as well. And buyers and sellers need professional help now more than ever.  There's an old saying, "If you can learn to drive in the winter (in Chicagoland), you'll have easy going in the summer". If you get trained in real estate while the market is a little tougher, you may do really well as it rebounds!


For specific answers to your career questions, please contact Lauren Buchel, Agent Development Manager at  (847) 367-1171 ext 277 or click here.  If you are considering a full-time position with a company in northern Illinois, be sure to add CENTURY 21 Kreuser and Seiler to your list of companies to check out!