How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Feb 20, 2020 by

The Steps to Becoming a Real Estate Agent 

Whether you’re ready to start a new career, change from an existing one, or take on a side job, becoming a Realtor can be a great option! It’s also a perfect strategy for anyone hoping to get into real estate investing.

The barrier of entry is relatively low, the commissions can be high, and it can just be a lot of fun. The biggest benefits to becoming a Realtor include the pay, which averages to be about $50,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The top 10 percent of agents make a handsome 6-figure income. The flexible hours are appealing too, and many people choose to be a Realtor as a side job because of that fact. 

It’s also pretty easy to get started! If you’re game, these are the steps to get yourself licensed. 

Know Your State’s Requirements 

Each state will have its own requirements for getting licensed, and one state’s license isn’t good in any other state. If you live in a state’s border town, it might be wise to check out licensing requirements for both states, so you can sell on both sides of the line.

Your state will lay out the ground rules for becoming an agent, which include, but aren’t limited to: minimum age, application fees, background checks, continuing education courses, highest level of education completed, exam requirements, and more.

Take a Real Estate Course 

Every state requires that you take a pre-licensing course (or several) which will equip you with the necessary knowledge to facilitate the legal transaction of large assets on behalf of a client. It must be taken from an accredited real estate licensing institution, and you’ll be required to complete a certain number of course hours before you can qualify for the licensing exam.

There may be optional pre-licensing course-hours you can take, and you might choose to do this if you’re hungry for all knowledge before taking the exam; however, it isn’t usually necessary.

Pass the Licensing Exam 

There’s no pass-fail for your pre-licensing course, but you must pass the licensing exam to become a licensed Realtor. These consist of computerized courses split into relevant sections that address such topics as ethics, real estate principles, legal actions and documents, and other information specific to your state.

Your exam is usually provided in a pass-fail format, and once you’ve passed, you can apply for your license.

Pay Relevant Activation Fees 

If your application for a license is approved, you must pay all relevant activation fees and become licensed in your state. You’ll also want to pay for a membership to the multiple listing service (MLS), which entails access to information about all the properties on the market, recently sold, and other relevant information.

These costs vary, depending on the state you’re in, but they’re not an item you can neglect. You might also consider becoming a Realtor®, which gives you an additional edge against the competition. This includes membership in the National Association of Realtors and offers benefits such as more real estate data, a prestigious title, discounts on education, and other services that other Realtors don’t have.

This is an added fee and can be useful to have, but it’s not necessary to practice. 

Decide on Buyers or Seller’s Agent or Both 

Once you’re licensed, choose your area of specialty. You can be a seller’s agent, who works only with the seller, a buyer’s agent who works only with buyers, or an agent who works with both buyers and sellers.

Most Realtors are both, but if you prefer working only with buyers, you can focus on that area. Sometimes, focusing on one specialty gives you a competitive edge. 

Join a Brokerage 

Most states require that you join a brokerage in order to practice legally. This provides legal supervision when you’re starting out and protects both you and the clients.

Unfortunately, a portion of your commissions must be paid to the brokerage. If you decide you would prefer not to work under a brokerage, you can eventually apply for your real estate broker’s license.

This will give you the option of being an independent broker who represents only yourself or hires other realtors and collects a portion of their fees. 

Gather Clients 

Developing a clientele is one of the most challenging tasks for Realtors when they’re starting out, because many homeowners hire Realtors based on experience. Being a member of a brokerage can help you with this, because you will shadow more experienced real estate agents who might allow you a portion of their commission for your help.

You can also be assigned new clients who come to the brokerage without requesting another person. It’s also worthwhile to invest time and money into marketing yourself around town.

Signage and advertisements posted around the neighborhoods where you’ll be working can go a long way for gaining clientele. Social media and paid digital advertisements can also be useful.

Once you’ve gained your first few clients, it’s off to the races! You’ll gain experience along the way and potentially help thousands of home buyers and sellers complete one of the most vital transactions of their lives.

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