How much is your time worth?

Unless you charge an hourly rate on time spent assisting buyer and seller clients, your answer changes monthly as sales fluctuate. Further, the fee collected depends on the location of your FARM, as home prices vary greatly by neighborhood.

In California, the average employee works 35 hours per week as of February 2014, up from 34 hours a year earlier. The average hourly pay for California employees is $27.65.

On the other hand, the median hourly wage for California sales agents was $19.76 in mid-2013, according to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For brokers it was $36.03. (This is slightly above the national average).


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wages run the spectrum from hourly wages and hourly wages with overtime, to salaries, which are fixed no matter the number of hours worked each week. However, real estate professionals have a very different view of what an “hourly wage” means, as they regularly charge percentage fees. Thus, the possibility that their next sale might be a big payday is motivation to keep on when sales volume is lean.

The problem begins when these pie in the sky dreams motivate less work. It’s unlikely agents hoping to make big bucks will find million-dollar listings just by sitting around waiting for sellers to contact them. To make more money, more hours have to be worked.

People who work longer hours earn higher incomes, as:

  • the higher your hourly wage, the more taking unpaid time off “costs” that employee money;
  • there are higher incentives to work more hours to receive promotions, as the income gap between those at the top and those at the bottom continues to rise; and
  • taking time off is generally frowned upon in the U.S.

In today’s work culture, taking time off symbolizes laziness and failure in the workplace. Further, the U.S. does not mandate any paid vacation days for full-time employees. Contrast this with the United Kingdom, where full-time employees are obligated to receive 28 vacation days per year — or Brazil where employees receive 41 days!

We’re not advocating working 24/7 throughout the year. However, dreams of making it big in the real estate profession with little work and scant experience are outdated (specifically to the Millennium Boom era when fat fees were the norm). If you find your fee expectations for the hours put in each week aren’t realistic, it’s time to adjust your hours worked. (And maybe finally go for that broker license.)