To Broker or Not To Broker...
July 16, 2007 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Is it worth it to get a real estate broker's license in California?

I am looking to buy a house in the next year or so. I am a licensed attorney and I just learned that I can get a real estate broker's license by just studying for and passing the broker's exam (all work experience and course requirements are waived for licensed attorneys). I am trying to do a cost-benefit analysis.

Is it worth it to do this? Or should I just go with flat-fee broker like
posted by GIRLesq to Work & Money (3 answers total)
You could save 3% off the price by representing yourself
posted by growabrain at 7:45 PM on July 16, 2007

i practiced law in california 1980-1995, and around 1990, i got a broker license out of the foolish notion that brokerage would cross-pollinate my law practice. i had several broker-clients, and i affiliated with one of them for the built-in desk, clerical staff and marketing machine. after quite a bit of effort which distracted me from my law clients, i finally listed a house! i got back to the office to put it in the mls and there was a message from the seller: she had had second thoughts about the listing price and wanted to raise it $10,000. instant ethical quandary: yes, i had a signed contract, but hadn't done any work on it; if i put it in at the listed price i would have an uncooperative seller and would need an all-cash offer to earn a commission. i put it in at x + $10,000, transforming what would have been a marketable property into a dead dog.

there was only one showing, to the dewy young couple from sacramento. the woman asked me...

"what's that little building over there?"
"oh, that's the pumphouse for the well."
"can i look inside?"
"fer sure!"

we walked over to the pumphouse and opened the door. right on the other side, northern california's biggest black widow spider, with an abdomen as wide as a nickel. the woman screamed. her scream seemed to go on for at least ten seconds, and when she was done, i told her "please don't do that again, it kinda sets me on edge." the couple decided not to make an offer on the property. driving back to the office, i reflected on my real estate career "i'm a respectable lawyer, i don't need to do this shit." i dished the listing off to other agents in the office, who failed to satisfy the seller, judging by the obscenity-laden rants she left on my affiliate broker's voicemail.

that's how i learned that brokerage isn't as easy as it looks. yeah, you'll earn back the buyer's broker portion of the commission on your own deals; you didn't state the price range for the house you're looking for, so this leg of the cost-benefit analysis is unquantifiable. getting the license is a breeze, you'll pass the exam first time without breaking a sweat. after that, depending on what kind of law practice you have, you might bag a listing from a client once in a blue moon. if you have a friend/client who's a broker, affiliate with them so you don't have to re-invent the wheel in your law shop. maybe you'll have better luck than i did, maybe you're more of a people person who tolerates fools better. by 1995, i couldn't even stand my law clients for another minute, so i bailed, been happier ever since.
posted by bruce at 7:56 PM on July 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

Not a lot of replies here. I'm neither a real estate broker nor an attorney nor do I live in California, but it seems to me that if the license is free, and if the test isn't difficult to pass, what reasons are there to not do so? You don't even have to ever use the license again, except to buy/sell your own homes. (And maybe your friends' and relatives' homes. Bonus.)

Zero cost, benefit > 0.
posted by iguanapolitico at 5:11 PM on July 17, 2007

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