How to Become a Realtor/Real Estate Sales Agent

How to Become a Realtor/Real Estate Sales Agent

Real estate agents are paid a commission when they oversee the purchase or lease of a property, either helping the buyer or helping the seller.

With the right training, a realtor or real estate sales agent can perform a valuable service for clients in search of real estate to purchase or lease. In return for that service, the real estate agent is paid a portion of the purchase price. In the right market, this can be a lucrative career options with nearly unlimited growth potential.

Job Overview

A real estate sales agent assist people and companies with buying, selling and leasing real estate. This includes negotiating between parties, handling all of the legal documents associated with the purchase, showing properties to interested buyers, marketing properties and attending closings with their clients.

Some real estate sales will person the status and title of realtor. A realtor is titled through the National Association of Realtors. Realtors have to have extra training and show knowledge and performance in a particular area of real estate before they can register for realtor status through their local association. They perform the same basic duties as real estate agents, and often the two terms are used interchangeably by clients, but a realtor and a real estate sales agent are not the same thing.

Requirements and Qualifications

In order to practice real estate, a real estate sales agent must be licensed both federally and on the state level. Licensure requires passing state and federal exams, completing a certain number of real estate courses and being at least 18 years of age. Some states will also require a background check, and licensure is typically not transferable, although some states have reciprocity agreements.

Typical Education

The minimal education for a real estate agent is a high school diploma. While an additional degree is not required, all states require pre-licensure coursework, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

High School or GED
1 to 5 years

Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
College courses in real estate often take the place of these pre-licensure courses. Real estate agents who have a degree in business or have some business training are good candidates for commercial real estate positions, so many realtors will pursue a business degree with real estate courses mixed in.

Courses on real estate will cover all aspects of the career. This includes marketing and working with clients, real estate law and mortgage financing. After completing these courses, you will be well prepared to help clients with their real estate needs.

Steps to Become a Real Estate Sales Agent

The first step in becoming a real estate sales agent is completing your state’s required real estate training courses. Then, you will need to apply for a real estate sales license. Once you have your license, you can begin your real estate career.

Many new real estate agents will work with a firm at first to gain experience. By working with a well-known name, you will have a better chance of getting clients. However, as long as you have your real estate license, you do not have to have a firm behind you.

Salary and Job Outlook

The job outlook for real estate agents and realtors is tied directly to the strength of the real estate market. Due to the real estate slump, real estate agents had a slightly lower than average job growth outlook predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2010 to 2020. The projected growth for agents was 11 to 12 percent, depending on their designation.

Real estate agents are paid a commission when they oversee the purchase or lease of a property, either helping the buyer or helping the seller. Pay, therefore, is directly related to the value of the properties the agent is selling. Real estate sales agents earn an average annual wage of $40,030. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,460 and the top 10 percent earned over $95,220 in 2010.

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