The Challenges of Being a Real Estate Agent

Are you wondering about the challenges and benefits of being a real estate agent? Read to learn how to successfully navigate through the profession.

May 11, 2023
The Challenges of Being a Real Estate Agent

For those willing to put in the time, effort, sweat, and tears, the real estate industry can be an incredibly lucrative field. Some top realtors –– the kinds you might see on Selling Sunset or Million-Dollar Listing –– can earn seven-figure salaries and enjoy fabulous lifestyles, but this is not the experience for most real estate professionals. In 2022, the average real estate professional in the United States made just over $95,000, a far cry from the silver-screen earnings mentioned above.1 Still, considering the median American salary hovered around $70,000 during the same year, the possibility of earning a near-six-figure salary has caused many to toss their hats into the real estate ring in recent years. However, many wonder how to be a successful realtor

Those who have will tell you that a successful real estate career is not without its challenges. From continuous market fluctuations to intense competition, the long hours, to challenging client relationships, real estate agents face a number of obstacles daily. But by leveraging the proper strategies and maintaining the right mindset, you can overcome these challenges and enjoy the spoils of a gratifying career as a successful real estate agent. Read on as we take a closer look at the challenges realtors may face, and offers some ways to overcome them. 

1. Long Hours

One of the toughest parts of the job is that long hours can be a significant challenge for real estate agents –– whether a new agent just starting in the business or an experienced agent. And to grow a successful business and meet the need of clients, realtors often need to work well beyond the typical 9-5. Realtors can expect to conduct showings on the evenings, host open houses on weekends, and prepare final paperwork or send a last-minute email on holidays. 

Unsurprisingly, this is why many realtors consider the long hours and ‘round-the-clock availability to be some of the worst parts of the job.2 Over time, these challenging hours can lead to a lack of work-life balance, strained relationships, and increased stress, impacting the overall well-being of a realtor.

Overcoming This Challenge: To overcome this obstacle, real estate agents should establish clear boundaries with themselves and their clients. This can mean setting realistic expectations with buyers and sellers which honor your own priorities and clearly outline your availability, preventing you from overpromising (and spreading yourself too thin when scrambling to deliver.) Realtors can also lean on the support of technology, which can automate certain time-consuming processes to give you back more hours of your day. For established realtors with increased administrative demands, it may make sense to bring on administrative support to reduce your workload and allow you to shift your focus to growing your business. 

It’s easy to fall victim to fatigue and stress due to these long hours, and realtors should prioritize their physical and mental health –– as this may be the only way to ensure a long and prosperous career in real estate.

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2. Time Management

Time management is another significant challenge that many real estate agents face, as realtors often have to juggle numerous clients, properties, and administrative tasks simultaneously –– leading many new realtors to wonder how it’s possible to do it all. Factor in time-sensitive deadlines, back-to-back appointments, and ongoing realtor marketing efforts, and these tasks can quickly overwhelm realtors at every skill and experience level. 

Overcoming This Challenge: There are several strategies real estate agents can implement to improve their time management skills. One effective approach is to assign priorities to tasks based on their urgency and importance. This can help real estate professionals stay focused on pressing matters while motivating them to stick to set timelines. To-do lists, organized calendars, and productivity apps can also help realtors stay organized, no matter how busy their schedules get. But perhaps the best way to overcome this challenge is by asking for help when you needed. 

Time-consuming tasks like scheduling appointments and managing paperwork can be delegated to an administrative assistant, freeing up time that can be spent nurturing client relationships and growing the business. 

3. Maintaining Client Relationships

The lasting relationships realtors build with clients can be the job’s most rewarding aspect, but it can also be the most challenging part of the real estate business. The process of listing a home can take up to six months, with the sale taking another two to three –– meaning realtors can expect to devote the better part of a year to a single sale.3 In addition to being lengthy, these relationships can be complex, involving multiple parties, piles of paperwork, and ongoing negotiations. What’s more: No two buyers or sellers are the same, and success as a realtor means constantly adapting to new preferences, personalities, and communication styles. Now might be a good time to start working on that Oscar acceptance speech…  

Overcoming This Challenge: Like in many fields, effective communication is the key to overcoming this challenge. Realtors should establish clear communication channels with every client, keeping them in the loop regarding every aspect of the sale and cluing into preferred communication channels sooner rather than later. A proactive approach will help limit any hiccups or concerns, but realtors should address those concerns as quickly as possible when they arise. If this sounds like a lot of work, it is –– but by successfully maintaining client relationships and providing excellent service, you’ll stay top of mind when it comes time for clients to make a realtor referral

4. Market Fluctuations 

As we’ve seen watching the housing market for the last few years, the market is a living, breathing organism. Real estate market trends go up and down, and realtors must try their best to adapt to the ever-changing conditions –– while also keeping up with the latest trends. In a buyer's market, for example, where there is a relative abundance of homes, real estate agents may struggle to sell properties quickly and at desired prices. During a seller's market, on the other hand, where inventory is limited and demand is through the roof, real estate agents may face challenges of the bidding war variety. 

Overcoming This Challenge: While becoming a fortune teller might be the obvious answer, this strategy is out of the question for many real estate professionals. What you can do, however, is study and understand economic indicators to track and predict changes to the best of your ability. This includes keeping an eye on local real estate data, brushing up on recent market reports, and seeing what other real estate professionals –– in your area and across the country –– are saying. But 20/20 foresight is meaningless without action. So, if the conditions indicate a buyer's market, realtors may need to kick their marketing efforts and negotiating tactics into high gear. Should a seller’s market seem more likely, realtors may have to go the extra mile: finding off-market properties and tapping into their professional network to gain an advantage.

5. Strong Competition

The last challenge on our list is one that realtors, seasoned or otherwise, will be familiar with: the fierce competition. The real estate industry has always been highly competitive, as housing and aspiring homeowners are both finite resources. This can result in many agents fighting for the same clients, properties, and commission checks. For new agents, or those working in an especially saturated market, standing out can present a real challenge. Longevity will mean building a strong client base and community presence, which can take years or even decades to accomplish.

Overcoming This Challenge: There are countless ways realtors can stand out amidst a sea of sameness. One way is by developing a niche –– in market or specialization. Real estate agents can position themselves as experts in that particular area by focusing on a specific target audience or property type, like first-time buyers or midcentury modern aficionados. Realtors can stand out as the experts in their chosen niche by honing their expertise and providing exceptional service. 

Another strategy to overcome intense competition is to leverage social media and other digital marketing tools. It’s no secret that many homebuyers and sellers rely on the Internet throughout the buying or selling process, and cultivating a strong online presence can give real estate agents a competitive edge. Professional websites, active and engaged social media profiles, and a presence on favorite websites like Zillow can tech-savvy (or tech-friendly) realtors the upper hand. 

Succeeding in Real Estate

For all of its challenges, a career in the real estate industry can also be immensely rewarding –– and whether you’re just getting your start or have already carved out a career, you’ll likely find that great things await on the other side of these obstacles. If you’re looking to get the most out of your realtor career, partner with Truehold. By becoming a realtor partner with us, you can utilize our sale-leaseback approach to generate more leads, become a top competitor in your market, and help your clients unlock their equity.  


1. Yahoo. How much do realtors actually make? The truth about 2022’s hottest career path. 

2. Business Insider. 17 real estate agents reveal the worst parts of their jobs, from the lack of steady income to being on call 24/7. 

3. Zillow. What Is the Average Time to Sell a House? 

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Written by
Joe Pucillo
Head of Brokerage at Truehold
Joe Pucillo is Truehold’s Head of Brokerage, where he’s focused on building out the partnership engine and overseeing our brokerage operations. Joe is a growth-focused executive who’s been in the real estate industry for more than 25 years. During that time, he helped build new companies and launch new products within existing companies.
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Truehold's blog is committed to delivering timely and pertinent insights in real estate and finance, purely for educational and informational purposes. Crafted by experts, our content is thoroughly reviewed to guarantee its accuracy and dependability. Although designed to enlighten and engage, our articles are not intended as financial advice and should not be the sole basis for financial decisions. Our stringent editorial practices ensure the integrity of our content, empowering our readers with valuable knowledge.

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