A real estate agent is an intermediary who connects real estate buyers and sellers and helps them to buy or sell property. Working as a real estate agent has many advantages. It is a career that gives you the flexibility to work at your convenience. It is a lucrative career option where you can earn commission on the real estate transactions you carry out. If you are ready to put in a lot of effort, the potential to earn is unlimited.
If you were interested to become a real estate agent and wanted to know how, the following is a guide that explains the process of becoming a real estate agent.
- Confirm if it is the right career choice
A real estate agent’s job is not a 9 to 5 office job. You need to work hard to understand the real estate market and be up to date with latest trends. You need to be a salesperson to sell real estate to potential buyers. You need to help buyers find property in the area of their choice and the budget of their choice. You need to travel to meet clients and to take them to visit properties. Apart from these, there would be paperwork involved. You would also need to do follow-up with clients until the transaction is complete.
It gives you the freedom to work how much you want, but it involves a lot of groundwork before you can earn money. You will not get a fixed salary and will not earn anything unless you close a deal. If you are still sure this is the right career choice, you can then proceed with the next step.
- Find out the requirements of your state
To be a real estate agent, you need to be licensed. Each state has its own requirements on licensing. You need to find the requirements of the state where you operate. In general, the following are the requirements in most states:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must be a citizen or legal resident of the US.
- You need to complete a pre-licensing course.
- You may need work experience in some states before you can be licensed.
- You need to clear the licensing exam.
- You then need to find a real estate broker with whom you have to work. All states make it compulsory for real estate agents to work with a licensed real estate broker.
- Complete course work
You need to complete pre-licensing course work before you can take up the licensing exam. Either you can do the course at a real estate school that offers classroom training, or you can do the course online. IDECC is a regulator who accredits real-estate schools that offer real estate licensing courses. Register only with an accredited school.Typically, the course would be for around 90 hours. It would include topics like:
- Real estate business
- Ownership and property transfer
- Real estate financing
- Title insurance
- Real estate contracts
- Taxation concepts
- Real estate appraisal
- Leasing and property management
- Apply for the examination
You need to apply for the licensing examination, at which stage you need to provide documents that prove your eligibility, like age and US residency. The real estate regulatory authority in the state where you stay would conduct the exam. You can check out the process from their website or by visiting their office. You would need to submit the application and pay the prescribed application fee.
- Take up the examination
Once you finish the pre-licensing course, you can take up the exam. It goes without saying that you need to study hardif you want to clear the examination. The format of the exam as well as the pass rate varies from state to state. Not all those who take the exam pass it. Passing the exam is not something you should take for granted. Proper preparation with the right kind of prep material will help you clear the exam in the first attempt.
- Obtain the license
Once you clear the exam, you need to collect your license from the licensing authority. In some states, you may need to provide fingerprints and a criminal background check may be needed. In those states where there is a requirement for work experience, you need to provide proof of the same. Once all the requirements are complete, you will receive the license that authorizes you to be a real estate agent. You can now start working on real estate transactions.
- Select a broker
In some states, the real estate broker needs to sponsor your exam application. In such a case, you need to select a broker to work with before you take the exam. While selecting the broker, you need to ensure that you work with someone who is experienced and can guide you well. You would need to share the commission you earn with the broker. The broker may charge you a desk fee instead of asking for a share in the commission. You need to finalize this before you start working. Remember if you pay a desk fee, you need to pay this irrespective of whether you are earning money or not. In the initial stages, you may prefer working on the commission sharing model, where you need to pay anywhere from 30 – 50% of the fee you earn to the broker.
- Register with real estate organizations
You can join professional organizations like the National Association of Realtors, Institute of Real Estate Management and the Multiple Listing Service. This will help you be part of a network where you can interact with successful professionals and learn the tricks of the trade from them.
You are now ready to start working as a real estate agent. You can either open an office from where you operate or even work online to scout for clients. Have a plan for marketing on hand, so you can start getting clients for your business and you can look forward to completing your first transaction soon.