Are you on the fence about a career in real estate? Or are you eventually doubting it?

If yes, this may be why you ask yourself if real estate sales are hard.

So is it hard?

Generally, you can’t categorically say that real estate sales are hard. 

However, it is more often perceived as hard than not. Why? Because you will need a lot of willpower and energy to overcome a steep learning curve in marketing and sales when starting out.

Would you like to know the difference between something being hard and perceived as hard, the most challenging part in (real estate), why being a realtor can be tricky, and the most common reasons realtors fail? Then please keep reading.


What You Are Up Against as a Real Estate Agent – The Hardest Part in (Real Estate) Sales

Several hard parts of sales apply across all industries, including real estate.

So I first carried out some research on general statistics to look for real estate-specific sales statistics afterward.

My goal? To determine what you are up against regarding sales as a real estate agent.

The first statistic I found came from this source.

It states that the most challenging part of sales, according to polled salespeople, is; Firstly prospecting(40%), then closing(36%), and thirdly qualifying (22%).

I also checked people’s responses on Quora about this question; as expected, it was a bit of a mix.

However, prospecting and rejections stood out a bit, relating to each other.

One particular answer featured in an article also drew my attention.

It came from Tom Sullivan, who stated that you will get used to rejection after many different sales calls, but consistently and effectively following up is still the hardest.

This is particularly true for products with a longer sales cycle of three to six months.

I could find any valuable data to include in the context of sales statistics specific to real estate professionals.

Most of this data relates to real estate market data but not the selling part.

Therefore, since selling real estate is in itself sales, we need to assume that the situation of sales, in general, is also true for selling real estate.

Overall, the most challenging parts of selling real estate are likely the following:

    • Prospecting
    • Closing
    • Qualifying
    • Following Up


Why Is Being a Realtor so Hard?

This question needs some further examination of its underlying assumption. 

The assumption of being a realtor is hard. Is this true, and what does “hard” mean in the first place?

In other words, “hard” means something is difficult. And why is something difficult to do? 

Learning to walk for the first time as a toddler is difficult from the toddler’s perspective. 

From an adult’s perspective, unless you have had an accident recently or are in bad shape health-wise, walking happens on autopilot and is relatively easy.

So what’s the difference between the toddler, the one that had an accident, or the sick person and the healthy adult that can walk on autopilot effortlessly without difficulties?

The healthy adult has learned and practiced walking for a long time and has enough energy and willpower to make it happen each time he needs to walk from point A to point B.

The toddler has enough energy and willpower to do it but hasn’t learned and practiced it enough yet.

The sick person and the one with an accident have learned and practiced it before enough.

However, they now lack the energy and willpower or have to deal with physical obstacles that need to be overcome again with willpower and energy.

Let’s come back to what difficult means, then.

Logically deduced from the above, we can say that “difficult” means not having enough willpower and energy to overcome a learning curve with dedicated practice.

So when you assume that being a realtor is hard, you mean you lack the willpower and energy to overcome a learning curve with dedicated practice related to real estate.

This also means it’s not about the profession but more an individual mindset.

What happens to a realtor with enough willpower and energy to overcome a learning curve with dedicated practice? In this case, being a realtor would be easier.

Now we can conclude the general underlying assumption that “being a realtor is hard” isn’t generally valid.

Nevertheless, we can’t ignore that many have a hard time with challenges that require willpower and energy to overcome a learning curve again.

When do you need to learn something new? 

It’s when changes in the environment happen. In our case, it’s the real estate environment or market.

Being a realtor becomes hard and challenging if you don’t manage to overcome these changes because of a lack of willpower and energy.

So the reasons why some are struggling is because of these challenges:

  • You earn commissions. You don’t make money if you don’t sell homes (no regular paychecks).
  • Managing your time.
  • Wearing different hats (e.g., a real estate marketer, sales rep, legal and financial advisor, negotiator, etc.)
  • Real estate market changes (e.g., currently a low overall inventory and harder-to-find sellers)
  • Since you are your own boss, it’s on you to develop marketing strategies and strategies to expand your business.
  • Work-life balance is often far from balanced
  • Continued education to maintain your real estate license
  • Threatening online listing portals (e.g., Zillow)
  • Getting quality traffic and, thus, quality leads
  • Using the right real estate tech
  • Making sales calls

I am sure you can think of some other challenges. 

But I think we can agree that the list is long and that for some realtors, the willpower and energy might not be high enough to overcome the learning curve of all of them.

I don’t have a trustworthy source with statistics to further confirm it. 

But my educated guess is that being a realtor leans more toward being perceived as hard than easy for the reasons I just discussed.


Are Real Estate Sales Also Stressful?

is real estate sales hard

Real estate sales can be stressful, provided you meet with one or more of the official stress factors defined by WebMD during your real estate sales process.

According to WebMD, the common causes of stress are:

  • Dealing with a heavy workload or a high degree of responsibility
  • Poor management and no clear work expectations
  • Unhappiness in your job
  • Working long hours
  • Uncertainty and not being secure about your chances of success and advancement
  • Having to work under dangerous conditions
  • Discrimination and bullying at work
  • Public speaking in front of colleagues

Other causes instead coming from the inside are (common worries):

  • Individual attitudes and perceptions
  • Fear and uncertainty
  • Change
  • Unrealistic expectations

At the beginning of this article, I discussed the hardest parts of sales, which are likely the hardest parts of real estate sales. They are:

  • Prospecting
  • Closing
  • Qualifying
  • Following Up

These points can lead to one or more stress factors I mentioned.

Prospecting and calling expired listings, or FSBOs, can cause many of these.

If you have done it for some time and have not gotten any results, it might cause fear and uncertainty.

Why? Because you start worrying about what happens if you keep doing that but still don’t get any results.

Or you have some success calling expired listings and FSBOs.

Still, you used an unrealistic closing rate of, let’s say, 80% as your goal.

However, the average closing rate in sales calls is actually 27%. This will also cause real estate sales stress.

The question also concerns whether being a real estate agent is hard.

Because one or more of the stress factors mentioned above, at least fear and uncertainty, are always involved when you need to overcome an obstacle that requires willpower, energy, and a learning curve.


The Most Common Reasons Why Real Estate Agents Fail

Ending this article, I should also include why real estate agents fail. It complements the overall topic pretty well.

According to different sources, the three main reasons why real estate agents fail are:

  • A lack of marketing and sales skills.
  • Not following up enough.
  • Not having enough funds to get through months without sales.

During my research, I found numerous reasons from different sources. And you will realize that they tie in neatly, with real estate sales being rather hard than easy.

According to an undisclosed research source from Investopedia, the main three reasons are these:

The first reason is not prospecting (meaning marketing & sales) or not doing lead generation well enough or not at all.

Then the second reason, they mention not showcasing property listings well enough (e.g., a well-staged house, good photos, videos, marketing materials, etc.).

And the third one Investopedia mentions is not following up enough or not at all.

Remember one of the hardest parts of selling I discussed in the beginning? One of them was follow-ups.

According to Tom Ferry real estate agents fail because of the following:

    • Inadequate funds to have a runaway until you start making sales.
    • Not knowing how to generate real estate leads
    • Again not following up with potential clients.
    • Insufficient marketing efforts (a bit redundant since that’s actually lead generation)
    • No business plan

The following source I found was an article from Vaned.

According to their observations or own experience with real estate agents, the main reasons for failure are the following:

  • Real estate is treated as a hobby
  • Again, not doing lead generation well enough
  • Not having realistic expectations in terms of work hours (underestimating them)
  • Not budgeting well enough, which is necessary when not earning consistent income
  • Not handling uncertainty well enough

Lastly, according to an article from Mashvisor, these are the reasons why real estate agents fail:

  • They start their career for the wrong reasons. This usually involves false expectations of your earnings in your first year.
  • Not having enough savings until they make their first sales.
  • Not working enough hours, because sometimes it can be a 24/7 job.
  • A lack of knowledge about how to generate real estate leads.
  • Working part-time as a real estate agent (seems to increase the risk of failure)
  • A lack of an action plan and clear goals.
  • Not being able to handle tough times.
  • Not having enough interpersonal skills, which means being difficult to work with
  • A lack of marketing knowledge.
  • The expectation is that it’s easy to be a real estate agent.

Now, let’s find out where there is an overlap in the different reasons to get to the most important ones.

The primary overlap with reasons appearing more than once in each source is the following:

  • A lack of marketing and sales skills (prospecting)
  • Not following up enough with potential clients
  • Not having enough funds to compensate for bad times.

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Tobias Schnellbacher