Pros and Cons of Becoming a Real Estate Banking Officer
Real estate banking officers, also known as real estate loan officers, evaluate prospective real estate loan borrowers. Read the following to determine if this is the right career path for you.
|Pros of Being a Real Estate Banking Officer|
|Freedom to work outside of the office (meeting with clients at their homes or offices)*|
|The highest earners made a median annual salary of about $128,390 in 2014*|
|Advancement opportunities (supervisor position)*|
|May choose to work independently or for a company*|
|Cons of Being a Real Estate Banking Officer|
|Long hours, especially during low interest rate periods*|
|Poor housing market can cause a decline in commission-based income*|
|Possible layoffs or lack of work during poor economic periods*|
|Must complete continuing education classes to keep license*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job Description and Duties
Real estate banking officers help prospective borrowers apply for loans by determining the most suitable type of loan, eligibility and terms for the individual or company. They may also assist with the application process. Sometimes the job requires working in an office, but most real estate banking officers travel to a client's home or office to prepare loan agreements and applications. The amount of work available usually varies depending on the economy and housing market.
Job Growth and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment across all types of loan officers is expected to increase by 8% during the 2012-2022 decade. However, job growth for loan officers tends to vary with the economy, so the growth can vary from year to year due to factors like interest rates and population growth. Loan officers made an average of about $73,670 a year as of May 2014, but the highest paid loan officers earned about $128,390 during that same period.
What Are the Requirements?
Most real estate banking officer positions require a high school diploma or equivalent, but a bachelor's degree in finance or economics is usually necessary for commercial loan positions. Real estate banking officers are required to become licensed in most states before working, unless they work for a commercial bank. License requirements vary by state, but most states require a background check and 20 hours of educational coursework in subjects such as federal law, ethics and mortgage lending before taking the SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator Test. Continuing education is required for periodic license renewal.
What Employers Are Looking For
Most employers look for candidates with experience in the sales, real estate or finance industries, but some advance from other related positions and on-the-job training. Many real estate loan officer job postings require candidates to have previous lending experience and excellent written and verbal communication skills. Here are a few examples of job postings from March 2012:
- A Nevada credit union looked for a full commission real estate loan officer with at least two years of experience in a related field. The minimum education requirements were a high school diploma or equivalent. Candidates should be personable and have knowledge of sales, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA), Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC) programs. Necessary skills include office and mortgage lending software and word processing.
- An Iowa bank advertised for a real estate loan officer with at least three years of related experience to perform all duties associated with real estate lending. No educational requirements were listed, but candidates must be sales-oriented and highly motivated.
- A real estate investment firm in Cincinnati, Ohio looked for a commercial real estate loan officer with a bachelor's degree and business development or sales experience. Ideal candidates have strong communication and negotiation skills, in addition to internet research skills and knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite.
How Can I Stand Out?
Real estate banking officers who earn the Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) designation through the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) at the residential, commercial or master level can increase their chances of getting a job. Requirements include three years of experience in the mortgage lending industry, meeting educational requirements through prep courses and passing a written exam. Continuing education is required every two years to renew the designation. Some other valuable skills and qualities that can help you stand out in the job market include:
- Computer and banking software skills
- Excellent people skills
- Strong sales ability
Other Careers to Consider
Insurance Sales Agent
If you like the idea of a sales-based job, but don't want to work specifically in real estate, a career in insurance sales may be right for you. Insurance sales agents travel to meet with potential clients and offer health, life, disability, property or casualty insurance. Many agents are self-employed, and some work for insurance companies. Most insurance sales jobs prefer candidates to have a college degree in finance, accounting, business or economics and some sales experience. All insurance sales agents need to be licensed by the state. The BLS reported that the average annual salary of an insurance sales agent was $63,000 in 2011, and job prospects are expected to increase 22% during the 2010-2020 decade, which is considered faster than the average growth for all other occupations.
If you want to help clients manage their budget instead of being responsible for getting them home-owning loans, a career in credit counseling may be right for you. Credit counselors advise clients on loans, credit, finances, budget and debt issues. They meet with clients and contact creditors to negotiate payment plans in favor of the client. Most credit counseling positions require candidates to have a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance and complete on-the-job training. According to O*Net OnLine, the average hourly wage of a credit counselor was about $18.00 in 2011, and jobs were expected to grow faster than the average growth of all other occupations (20-28% during the 2010-2020 decade).
Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents sell property to clients, working between the buyer and seller to negotiate price. Most real estate agents have at least a high school diploma and become licensed through the state they work in. Candidates who earn a certificate in real estate courses or a college degree in business, law or economics are highly desirable. Many real estate agents set their own hours, but work days can be long and include plenty of travel to show properties and meet with clients. Real estate sales agents earned an average annual salary of about $51,000 in 2011, according to the BLS.