Homebuyer's agent

At Work

Real estate offers freedom, independence but requires sticking to a personal budget


January 17, 2007|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to the Sun

Scott Kapinos

Real estate agent

Pat Hiban Real Estate Group/Keller Williams Select Realty, Ellicott City

Salary --$123,000 a year

Age --45

Years on the job --20

How he got started --Kapinos was working for a printing company in 1985 when he purchased his first home. He decided to give the real estate business a try because he enjoyed the process, realized Howard County was an up-and-coming area and had a business background. He sold his first home within a few weeks. The first year, he sold 15 homes. He joined the Pat Hiban Real Estate Group in 2000 as a buyer's agent, meaning he does not list or sell houses, but instead represents the buyer in a transaction. For this, he receives about a 3 percent commission based on the home's sale price, which is paid by the seller. He spends about 15 hours a week at the office - otherwise he's on the road or at his home office.

Typical day --His day starts by checking and returning e-mails and phone messages. He also must follow up on and schedule settlements, inspections and showings. Much of his work is contacting and keeping in touch with prospective and active buyers. He said he works about 44 hours a week and tries to keep to a 9 a.m.-to-5 p.m. schedule, but often has evening and weekend showings and settlements. He works with about five to 10 "serious" buyers at any given time.

Area of concentration --Kapinos serves all of Howard County, as well as the surrounding counties. He mostly works with buyers looking for single-family homes in the price range of $500,000 and above.

Wear and tear --Kapinos estimates he puts 25,000 miles a year on his car.

Buyer's market --"September 2006 was a big shocker for everyone in real estate." That's when the market switched from a seller's market to a buyer's market. In the past, it was about making his clients' offers stand out in a competitive market. Now, buyers are more excited because there are better deals with seller incentives and price reductions. "Buyers realize they now have the upper hand. My job is to gain as many facts about the sale of the property and put together a strategy to get the best price and terms for my client."

No structure --Kapinos said there's a lot of freedom in the job and it can be counterproductive for those entering the field. "We are so independent. Sometimes I think it's hard for people to do something as unstructured as real estate."

The good --"Getting to work with people and helping them with what is, in most cases, the biggest investment they will ever make."

The bad --Budgeting. Because he is paid entirely on commission, organizing finances between settlements can be tricky. He also must pay annual licensing fees of about $1,500 as well as other expenses such as his cell phone and everyday travel expenses.

Philosophy on the job --"Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Be honest, be professional and always try to learn more."

Best sell --In 2002, he sold one local investor 15 homes in one year.

Optimism --"There's great deals, a healthy inventory and interest rates are still low, which gives us hope 2007 will be a great year."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest

Special to The Sun

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