Today’s Oxymoron: Part Time Real Estate Professional


“Doctor, will this surgery cure me?”

“I think so.”

“You think so … you’ve done this before, right?”

“Oh, yes … since I got my medical license 10 years ago I’ve performed at least a dozen of these surgeries. And two of those were in the past year. You’ll be fine …”


“You can get me off, right?” asks the flinty-eyed man, his rotted teeth barely visible as he snarls at the attorney on the other end of the phone.

“Oh sure. Shouldn’t be a problem, I don’t think.”

“I’ve heard you’re the guy to help a guy with a murder rap.”

“Absolutely. I handled a murder case just three years ago. I mean, it’s all been jaywalkers and speeding tickets since then, but murder’s still murder after all …”

INTERIOR, AUTO MECHANIC’S SHOP. Smoke is rising from the hood of a new Lexus.

“Does it look bad,” the customer asks

“Oh, nothing I can’t handle. Let me just get my tools.”

“Wait a second … aren’t you going to run diagnostics through the computer?”

“Sonny, I’ve been fixing cars since 1964. Ain’t nothing a computer can tell me that I don’t already know. Besides, the computers in your car only control the radio and the air conditioning -”

” – I don’t think that’s right.”

“We’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?”

Get the point?

Years ago, when sales bottomed out and here in Phoenix, a metropolitan area of multiple millions, only 2,000 detached homes a month were selling, I contemplated getting another job. My broker and trainer at the time both warned me off the approach. “Once you get a job,” they said, “real estate isn’t your career.”

Since then … heck, maybe even before then … I’ve had a small issue with the idea of the part-time real estate professional.

Forget the obvious issues, like being unavailable because you can’t have your cell phone on or can’t access the MLS during the other job’s work hours. If you’re doing this only part-time, how can you possibly keep abreast of the changes in the real estate contract and related forms?

How can you be aware of the latest roadblocks thrown up by banks when dealing with short sales and bank owned homes? How can you perform any type of reasonable professional development or continuing education (real continuing education, not the silly classes the state mandates every two years.)

For all those who discuss the idea of raising the bar in real estate (a truly pointless effort since it has been proven time and again the public doesn’t really care) why not start at an obvious place – the onesies, twosies who hold a license for no apparent reason and yet roll the dice on a couple of transactions a year, hoping beyond hope they don’t screw something up?

Mandate a minimum number of transactions that need to be completed in a year in order to keep your license active. Otherwise, limit your interactions to the public to asking if they want fries with their burger.

There are exceptions … most brokers don’t actively sell, so there’s one. Same goes for office managers in some of the larger multi-office franchises around the Valley. So, again, no issue there.

But for everyone else … the public clearly isn’t being done a service by using someone who only is vaguely aware of the real estate market, current real estate issues and the like.

This, of course, never will happen for a simple reason – money.

The state likes its licensing fees, the associations like their membership fees, ARMLS likes its subscriber fees and many brokerages enjoy the monthly desk fees, franchise fees or whatever else they call them that they collect from agents active and barely active alike.

And that’s a shame. Because the reputation of this business never will improve when you are the only career of proclaimed professionals who thing the job can be done in a handful of hours a week.

Photo credit: SteFou! courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at

1 Comment

  • Thomas Cunningham 6 years ago

    I like where you are going with this Jonathan. Maybe we could take it a little further and instill some basic education requirements. For starters, how about a minimum number of times an individual can take a State License exam, say three strikes? Then, said individual would not be allowed to retake the exam for a minimum of 1yr plus be required to enroll in Post Licensing courses again before allowed to take the State Exam again. 
    I’ve heard some agents suggest monetary limits or base education requirements like a minimum 4yr degree before being allow to apply for a Real Estate License, but I have some aversion to those concepts. Including myself, there are some  highly intelligent, good people out there with no formal college education nor excessive financial standing that can & would make excellent Real Estate Agents. Placing those two previously mentioned requirements would isolate too many good people from the opportunity of entering into the RE Biz.
    I chose to get into this business seven years ago, right before the bottom begun to fall out and I rode the wave right into the beachhead, face first. The past two years have been a massive struggle for me. I’ve acquired a huge degree of in-the-field training and experience along the way dealing with Short Sales, Foreclosures and all the fun stuff that comes along with them. Interacting with Bank after Bank and having conversations with their representatives who care very little of our Clients success. Struggling with Sellers who are, for the 1st time in history (to my knowledge), are upside down with their homes and trying to explain to them the reality of the market while reading in the news that the financial system that help get us into this mess is being bailed out with our (taxpayers) money then soon after hear news of bonuses being issued while hundreds of people are being evicted from their homes.
    Jonathan, I agree with you. Part-time Agents will be a hindrance to Real Estate Business, especially towards the goal of trying to raised the bar. I myself, sadly, am choosing to get out of the business altogether. There is simply no passion left inside me to march on; to continue to trudge through the endless negativity. I won’t allow myself to be one of those part-time agents because I wouldn’t be able to meet my own standards of professionalism. I wouldn’t be able to provide the degree of service I felt was deserved to each and every one of my clients. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with current changes in the market nor would I be able to continue to expand my knowledge or education with current courses, whether required or not. Hell, I wouldn’t even be able to survive much longer in the hopes of seeing the market turn around, much less fully stabilize. 
    So, I choose to exit stage left and leave the industry in hands of the few that have the heart and wherewithal to continue on. I leave with the hopes that one day the industry will wake up and realize that the only way to ever be seen in the eyes of the public as true professionals will be to actually Raise the Bar and demand much, much more of us agents & brokers alike. To strip away the greed and focus on what really matters.

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