Aaron Kirman has sold roughly $6 billion worth of real estate over his 25-year career, making him the No. 1 agent in Los Angeles and among the best in the country.
As a top realtor, Kirman makes seven figures, but not all agents earn a ton of money — and that's one of the biggest misconceptions about the job.
"On average, agents make anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000, which isn't what the public thinks that they make," he tells CNBC Make It. "It's a lot less than you think because it's such a competitive industry."
Entry level agents can bring home even less than that because "it takes about a year to sell something," he says.
A top producer is selling between $30 million and $40 million of real estate a year, which equates to a $300,000 or $400,000 salary. "Then you have the very, very, very top, which is a select few that make more than a million," says Kirman. "And there's one level up, which is big, mega brokers. There are not that many in the world, but there are a few, and I'm pretty lucky to consider myself one of those."
"Mega brokers" make between $5 million and $12 million a year.
Another misconception, he says, is that the realtors at the top don't work that hard: "It's a tough job. There are a lot of nuances that make it extremely complicated, and I think that agents deserve every penny of every dollar they make."
Even Kirman, who's established himself as one of the most successful agents in the world, works long days that often end past 9 p.m.
To be successful in real estate you have to put in the hours, he says: "60% of it is showing up. You just have to work really hard. And then there's intelligence involved — you have to understand market dynamics, human nature and the product."
Plus, he adds, "there's always a little bit of luck."
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