If you are interested in becoming a real estate agent, you should know exactly what education is required as well as the other formalities necessary to work in the field. Any old person can’t simply get off the couch and declare himself to be a real estate agent. It takes the completion of specific education courses as well as the the passing of a license exam. In some states, even more formalities are required. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what is required to become a legitimate real estate agent in the United States.
Is it the Right Career for You?
Before you embark on the steps necessary to become a real estate agent, it is imperative that you spend some time thinking about whether this is actually the right line of work for you. Real estate salespeople essentially work for themselves as they have their own offices and operate on customized schedules. They find their own leads, build up their own professional network network, develop and maintain industry contacts etc. It will not hurt to meet with experienced real estate agents to pick their brains regarding what it is like to work in this exciting and challenging field. They can describe their typical working day and explain just how much of a commitment is necessary to become a successful real estate agent.
The Role of a Real Estate Agent
According to the National Association of Realtors, just under 90 percent of home buyers rely on real estate agents for their home purchase. The general public’s reliance on real estate agents for such purchases has been on the upswing, rising 69 percent in the past 15 years. Real estate agents do much more than find homes for those in search of a place to live. Real estate agents meet with clients to determine their needs and desires. They then help them narrow their home search. Agents provide clients with details about the local real estate market and generally simplify the home buying process. Experienced agents actually know about some homes before they are even listed, which allows them to close a considerable number transactions in any given time period. A real estate agent is also an advocate, meaning that he has a fiduciary duty to protect his clients’ interests at all times. The agent will negotiate, prepare all offers and counter forms and take care of all the other minutia involved in real estate transactions.
How Much can I Earn as a Real Estate Agent?
Real estate agents typically work on a commission that is oftentimes split up amongst the agents within their office. Salary.com reports that the average salary for real estate agents in the United States is in between $34,000 and $45,000. The specific amount of money that a real estate agent makes is always dependent on the total number of transactions that he completes. It is worth noting that all real estate commissions are negotiable. The money is paid directly to the broker instead of the agent. The agent works beneath the broker and both are paid by way of a listing agreement that shares a piece of the commission with the agent on the buyer’s side. While the average real estate agent might take home around $40,000 per year, elite agents make plenty more than their peers. The cream of the crop can earn several hundred thousand dollars per year or even more.
General Requirements to Work as a Real Estate Agent
In order to be eligible to work as a licensed real estate agent, one must be a minimum of 18 or 19 years old, depending on the state that he lives in. He must also be a legal resident of the United States. In terms of education, each state has a minimum number of pre-license education hours required of all real estate agents. Finally, prospective real estate agents must pass their state’s real estate license test.
What are the Steps to Become A Real Estate Agent?
If you would like to become a real estate agent, you are about to take the preliminary steps necessary for a fulfilling career that could turn out to be quite lucrative. Becoming a real estate agent involves more than obtaining a real estate license and taking a few classes. Some states require that real estate agents also pass a background test. States also require formal classroom training, a license, different types of insurance and continuing education after obtaining the license. However, the specific requirements differ by each individual state. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what is required to become an official real estate agent.
Real Estate Pre-licensing Course
Real estate students can complete their real estate pre-licensing education courses with instruction provided in a classroom at a university, technical school, real estate school or even a realty firm. Others choose to participate in online real estate education as it is much more convenient and sometimes more affordable. Regardless of which path you choose, it is critical that you select a school with a solid reputation, elite instructors and a narrow focus on helping students become professional successes. This program is your springboard to a brand new career that you might enjoy for decades so do not choose one simply because it is cheap or looks like it will be easy to complete compared to the alternatives available in your area or online.
Apply to Take the Real Estate Salesperson Exam
Time is of the essence at this point in the game. Your focus should be squarely on completing the application process in your state in a timely manner so you can sit for the real estate agent exam upon completing the real estate licensing classes. The test must be specific to your individual state. While each state has its own specific requirements of candidates who would like to take the real estate salesperson exam, there is always an application as well as a fee required. Candidates will also have to present their academic transcripts to prove the successful completion of college level real estate coursework. The transcripts, application and appropriate fee are typically mailed to the state’s Bureau of Real Estate office. It usually takes about 6 weeks to process the exam application. Once it is determined that a candidate qualifies, he will be sent an examination scheduling notice.
Reach out to your state’s real estate regulatory authority for more information. It is possible that your state will force you to provide your fingerprints and also pass a background check in order to take the real estate salesperson exam. This can take some time, so plan ahead to allow a couple weeks for the processing of your information. Some states require that the application process be finalized before test-takers can even register or choose a date for their exam.
Passing the Real Estate Salespeople Examination
It will take more than the completion of the formal educational requirements to get through the real estate exam. In order to successfully pass this exam, you must invest a considerable amount of time preparing. Some choose to enroll in an examination prep class in an effort to pass the exam with ease. They enjoy guidance from an instructor, feedback from peers and extensive opportunities to practice on simulated exams to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses. When test day comes, it is critical that you maintain a positive attitude and put all of that studying to good use. You will undoubtedly walk away from the test with a passing grade if you put in the work ahead of time and give it your all on exam day.
Starting out as a new Real Estate Agent
Though you might have passed the real estate salesperson examination without a problem, you are not exactly ready to work as a real estate agent. A real estate agent is licensed to operate on behalf of a broker. He cannot operate as an independent real estate agent. This is the time to pinpoint a real estate broker. You are early enough in the licensing process to find the right person who will help catalyze your new career. Once you have allied with a broker, it is time to fill out the paperwork with the state government and wait for acceptance. Upon acceptance, your license will be issued and you can practice real estate with the sponsorship of your broker. Bear in mind that your broker will prove critical in your quest to nab those initial clients. A broker can also help you pass state and nationwide licensing exams, so spend a good amount of time researching candidates.
Getting Real Estate Clients
While your broker will certainly help you nab clients, be sure to invest the time and effort that is necessary to find a helpful mentor. Lean on the contact you have amassed in your personal network, attend networking events and introduce yourself to anyone who works in the industry. Ideally, you will find a high quality mentor at a real estate agency who steers you toward a good number of buyer and seller contacts. He can teach you all about the profession and help you get those critical first commission checks. Also, do not be afraid to ask your social network for referrals of individuals who might be interested in purchasing or selling a home. Every beginning real estate agent has to start somewhere, so take work wherever you can find it until you have accumulated some experience.