How can you be an active duty service member AND be a baller real estate agent?
While I’m living proof that it’s possible – it is incredibly important to consider all the factors that make being a part time real estate agent on top of a full time active duty job somewhat complicated.
You absolutely CAN be a military real estate agent and crush real estate sales as a side gig.
Maybe you want to trade referrals or use your license to invest in real estate. Totally doable. You can build multiple income streams on top of Uncle Sam’s paycheck, build lasting businesses, or even transition out of the military with confidence as your real estate business takes off.
But as an active duty military member interested in real estate, before you run out and get your real estate license, you have to ask yourself one important question: should you get your real estate license?
There are a ton of factors and life events that we military bubbas and bub-ettes have that the civilian population will never know or understand. These unique factors could negate the positives of having a real estate license to begin with. On the other hand, there’s no more military friendly Realtor than a military member! Let’s dig into it.
MOS & Deployment Compatibility
What is the operational and deployment tempo for your MOS, AFSC, or job code? Real estate clients are often looking to buy or sell in longer timeframes, 3, 6, or even 12 months. Where will you be? Will you be deployed? When will you move on to your next assignment?
There are certainly ways to work through these military real estate agent complications. For example, you could team up with another local Realtor for clients you can’t serve fully due to a deployment, PCS, or TDY. I closed my first two transactions while deployed – it’s all possible.
Just recognize that as military members, we have additional complications to consider that full time real estate agents don’t have.
Determine Job Flexibility
How many hours a week do you work and when do you work? Do you have a fixed schedule? Are you able to take last minute leave? Do you have hours left in the day to work on real estate?
Real estate sales is a lot of work – make no mistake about it. Is your current job flexible enough to allow you to work on your military real estate agent business? For me, it wasn’t until my third assignment that it was even possible to work as a Realtor part time.
Even if this job is flexible, will the next one be as well? How long will it be until your next PCS? I know I’m asking a lot of questions but I want you to make the best use of your time before you go out and get licensed.
Get Supervisor Approval
Look. You and I both know how it goes. You have absolutely fantastic bosses, and you have bottom of the barrel ones. It’s just how it goes in the military and in life. Before you run out and get your real estate license, make sure your supervisors are on board with your plan.
But before you talk to your supervisor KNOW your plan to be an active duty part time real estate agent. Be able to articulate how real estate will not interfere with your duties, and how you’ll be able to accomplish that!
Ensure Family Support
To me, this is the most important one. If you have a spouse and a family, they need to be totally 110% on board with the fact that you’ll not be taking more time away from them to be a military real estate agent. Active duty life is tough and adding another job to it can make it tougher.
For me, real estate is my passion, so it never feels like work. And I do as much as I can while the kids are asleep.
But make no mistake: you will have to give up some family time to succeed as a part time military real estate agent. It’s quite possible that your family IS on board as this could be your exit strategy or post-retirement plan from the military. So if your WHY is big enough and your family support it, then soldier on!
Know Your WHY
What is your WHY? What I mean by that is, what is your big driving goal? Is it to build a real estate empire? Your end goal isn’t to get your real estate license. It’s something bigger, like:
- I want to transition from the military through real estate
- I want to spend less time deployed and more time with family
- I want to be my own boss and have work freedom
- I want to invest in real estate to replace my active duty income
- I want to amass a real estate empire to pass on to my kids
- I want to pay for my kids’ college
- I want to build a real estate sales business
Knowing your why is the most important step to understanding if becoming a military real estate agent is right for you, whether you stay or go from active duty.
What is your WHY? Your big GOAL? Will becoming licensed help you get these faster?
Go Get Your Real Estate License!
Okay, you made it past all the crazy factors that apply only to active duty service members like us pursuing a dream of becoming Realtors. The time has come! Go out there and get your real estate license, damnit!
Here are the general steps to becoming a real estate agent to get you started – remember these can vary slightly by state so check the website of the government office responsible for sales associate licensing in your state:
- Take pre-exam licensing course (in-person or online)
- Perform background check & fingerprinting
- Register as a real estate agent with the state
- Take state real estate license exam
- Wait for state to approve your license status!
- Join a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to practice real estate locally
- Join the National Association of REALTORS® – optional, but many brokerages require it, and you can register while joining MLS joining
- Choose a part time friendly brokerage and it’s off to the races!
Get Legal Approval & Follow the Rules
Pick a name for it, it varies by service branch. But it is usually the Judge Advocate General or Legal Assistance office. They will provide you with the legal paperwork you to fill out as an active duty member for off-duty employment.
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. You are obligated by your service and DoD policies to be approved to perform off-duty employment by both the legal office and your supervisor(s). Again, know your plan for working on your business without interfering with your military duties.
This may or may not be what your legal team looks like. Hah!
This is always what I think of when I hear JAG.
And don’t do anything stupid, like pose in front of your listing sign while in uniform, or associate your military employment with your real estate employment. Definitely don’t solicit real estate sales business openly at work either – know the rules and follow them! A good rule is if you feel like you should ask someone before you do it, just don’t do it.
Join a Part Time Friendly Brokerage
There are a TON of fantastic options out there… for full timers.
The truth is that a broker only make money when their agents are producing a lot – this is especially true for locally owned independent or franchise brokerages. Old school brokers have a tendency to provide the most availability and support to their top producers. It’s just business.
As a part timer, it can be hard to even get on a broker’s radar. If you bounce in and say you want to do this part time because you’re active duty military… how motivated are they going to be to spend time on you?
Which brokerage will provide the most value while being part time friendly?
Even more important to me, was that I could get training, mentorship, and support outside of regular work hours. That way when I needed to take leave or time away from family for real estate, it was for actions leading to results, like meeting with clients, showings, and writing offers.
When I was interviewing brokerages, I was looking for a few brokerage characteristics that set me up for success as a part time military Realtor:
- No stigma toward part time agents – all agents receive same support
- Top notch training available outside of work hours
- An assigned local mentor with sales experience
- Flexibility to get training, support, and mentorship anywhere, anytime
- Ability to build teams and multiple businesses within the brokerage
- Multiple broker/mentor/admin support avenues
- Not paying for fluff I didn’t use, like desk/office/franchise fees
- A nationwide company so I could stay at a brokerage even with a PCS
With the right brokerage, you can achieve just about anything. For example, I closed my first two transactions while deployed. For more tips on how to become a successful part time agent, checkout these part time agent success tips on AgentWealthHusltle.com.
Be the PCS Smartass
Look, you have a unique angle on real estate sales in your area: you understand the special circumstances faced by military family buyers and sellers. Embrace that. Know everything and everyone you need to know to help military members with a PCS.
If you provide value to military members to smooth their PCS, you WILL get business from it. Even if you help a family get linked up with on base housing – for which you shall receive no dollars – that value will come back to you in the form of relationships built and referrals to potential clients.
There are two ways you can dominate being the PCS smartass right off the bat even as a brand new real estate agent:
- Grow a PCS specific Facebook group for your base/area filled with valuable information and military family collaboration
- Build a search optimized YouTube channel focusing on valuable videos that help military members understand the ins and outs of buying, selling, renting, moving, and living in your area
A great example of a military real estate agent ran Facebook Group
Sure I’m being a little facetious but in all seriousness, if you are the smartest about Permanent Change of Stations to and from your area, you can provide that value to others and it will come back to you tenfold. This is the long term way to build a relationship-first client base!
Build a Lasting Business
Sure, you could have this nice little side hustle and work your butt off for a commission check or two. But is that really where you want to go? Why not spend a few hours a week building a scalable business that you can continue to grow over time? It may not feel worth it on a daily basis but in the long run you’ll be far more successful than the rest!
A real estate license opens up a TON of new doors and multiple business opportunities. Sure, you can sell homes but there is SO much more you can do! Here are a few interesting and scalable ideas you can work on:
- Referrals – you know people who move A LOT. Why not find other military families fantastic military and VA friendly agents nationwide in return for a referral fee (typically 25% of that agent’s commission at closing)?
- Real Estate Investing – you have your license and a ton of advantages over the unlicensed public when it comes to investing. Don’t squander it! Real estate is one of the best possible investments for cash flow in the short term and wealth in the long term.
- Teams – say you figure out how to generate so many leads that you don’t have time for them all. Time to form and grow an agent team! Plenty of agents would be willing to split commission with you in return for not having to pay for or generate leads up front.
To learn more about building multiple businesses and income streams to build long term wealth as a real estate agent, check out AgentWealthHustle.com. Happy hustling!
About the Author
Charlie Cameron with General McKenzie, Commander, Central Command.
Charlie Cameron is a dad, military spouse, and an Active Duty Air Force developmental engineer and program manager with 9+ years of experience developing, testing, and managing cutting edge weapon systems. He currently owns 18 rentals, including multifamily, a self-managed AirBnB, and a single family rental, and has partnered on larger apartment complexes. He is a licensed REALTOR® in the state of Florida with eXp Realty, serving mostly investors and military families. Charlie has also served on USAA’s Advisory Panel.
If you want help locating a military real estate agent to help you find that next home (or investment) fill out this short form and we will connect you to people like Charlie!