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How to Become a Real Estate Agent: The Complete Career Guide

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How to Become a Real Estate Agent: The Complete Career Guide

Between 2018 and 2028, the real estate agent employment rate is expected to grow by 7 percent.

That's more than the average projected growth for all other occupations.

As the demand for real estate agents and brokers rises, maybe it's time you looked into how to become a real estate agent.

Does working for commission selling houses sound like a career upgrade to you? Do you want to help people who are making major purchasing and life decisions? Are you tired of working for someone else, and ready to be more in control of your own goals and hours?

Have you ever wondered how to become a real estate agent, but you're not sure what it entails? Come with me and we'll discover what it takes to become a real estate agent.

Is Becoming a Real Estate Agent Right for You?

Becoming a real estate agent means that you'll be taking part in an exciting and ever-changing industry, but it isn't for everyone. It's not enough to be bored in your current job. You'll need a go-getter attitude, a love for networking, and the willingness to build a new career from the ground up.

In addition to those attributes, to be an effective real estate agent you must keep up with the latest trends in real estate and stay abreast of the constant fluctuations in the local and national markets.

You'll have to be able to ride the ups and downs of the real estate market without panicking. Some people predict that this coming decade will be one of growth and expansion in the United States, while others are more cautious.

So, while beginning a career in the real estate industry might be more exhilarating than your day job, it comes with a lot of risks and doesn't necessarily come with a steady paycheck. If working for a commission puts a fire under your tail, all the power to you. If not, this might not be the line of work for you.

How to Get Your Real Estate License

While there are federal laws that govern real estate in the United States, each state has its own rules and regulations regarding real estate licensing and practice.

No matter what state you live in, there are four basic requirements consistent across the country:

  • You must have legal US residency
  • You must be at least 18 or 19 years of age (depending on your state)
  • You must complete a pre-license education outlined by your state
  • You must pass your state's real estate license examination

Besides these basic requirements, your state will have its own laws that dictate how you can become a real estate agent. For example, some states might require you to have a high school diploma.

Learn and Understand Your State's Laws

Depending on which state you live in, there are different laws that govern the real estate licensing process. In addition, you'll need to learn your state's laws regarding land use, construction, landlord-tenant issues and how houses can be bought and sold.

Each state regulates its own licensing process, and you will obtain a real estate salesperson license from the state you plan to practice in.

To learn more about your state's licensing requirements, check out your state's real estate commission website.

Enroll in Pre-licensing Course

There are a lot of different options for taking your real estate pre-licensing course. The specifics will vary from state to state, and some states may require certain aspects of the course to be in person rather than online.

These courses generally cost between 200 and 300 dollars, but the price can vary. Options include online real estate courses, home-study courses, or in-person classroom courses at realty firms, real estate schools, or technical schools and universities.

Take your time and find a school that will support you in your education. Research the reputation of potential schools and instructors. There are a lot of schools that offer pre-licensing courses that are supportive of students and promote positive outcomes for them.

Find a Broker

This step might occur before or after you take your real estate salesperson license exam. Depending on the state you live in, you might be required to be sponsored by a broker before you can take the exam.

Either way, you might want to start shopping around for a broker early in your licensing process.

As a new real estate agent, you'll be licensed to act on behalf of a broker. You won't be allowed to act as a real estate agent independently.

Finding the right broker for you can have a huge impact on your ability to succeed as a new agent. Some brokers will be willing to mentor new agents while others will be much more hands-off.

Which broker you work with will also determine how much you get paid, how you get paid, and what resources you'll have access to in order to help advance your career.

That being said, it's worth it to shop around and do your research on brokers in your area. Take the time to determine what attributes of a broker would be best for you in your new real estate career.

Apply to Take the Real Estate Salesperson Exam

Depending on your state, you may have to complete the application process fully before you can schedule your exam or register for it. It's possible that you'll have to get your fingerprints taken and submit a background check. Paperwork like this can take many weeks.

You'll want to plan accordingly and make sure that things time out in your favor. Get all the necessary paperwork done as soon as you can so you can take the exam soon after you've finished your pre-licensing course.

There's often an application fee for the exam, usually between 100 and 300 dollars. Learn more specific details about the exam application process by looking at the website for your state's real estate regulatory authority.

Once you've fulfilled your education requirements and passed the examination, both you and your broker will have paperwork to file with the state. Once the state accepts this paperwork your real estate license will be issued.

Post-Licensing Coursework

Some states, but not all, require new real estate agents to complete post-licensing coursework. Typically, this must be done 6-12 months after your license is issued.

Make sure to check with your state's regulatory authority to find out if you'll be required to complete more coursework after you receive your license.

The Most Important Part of How to Become a Real Estate Agent: Make Sure You Have the Funds

Because most real estate agents work on commission, it'll most likely be a while before you get your first paycheck.

Many people choose to save up a certain amount of money before making a career change to working as a real estate agent. Others start working in real estate before leaving their day job.

You could also maintain a second part-time job while you're taking the necessary time to establish yourself. If you're a part of a dual-income household, talk to your spouse about your real estate agent aspirations and how you can bridge the gap between pay.

Just about every step along the journey to becoming a real estate agent costs money.

Once you become a real estate agent, you'll want to join your state and local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the cost of which depends on your area.

You may also consider joining a number of real estate associations. These associations can carry many benefits, like the ability to attend national conferences, networking opportunities and tools, and professional resources. These associations almost always require a membership fee.

Launch Your Career as a Real Estate Agent

Congratulations! Now it's time for you to make your fortune in real estate.

One of the first things you'll need to do is let absolutely everyone know that you're now a real estate agent. It's now your task to track down your first transaction, and networking is an incredibly powerful tool to make that happen.

It may seem like an uphill battle at first, but over time you'll find your footing and become an old pro at generating leads.

And the good news is that much of your work will be front-loaded. It might take you a couple of years to become truly established, but your hard work will pay off. With each family you work with, you then gain access to their network of contacts, as 39% of sellers find their agents through referrals by family or friends.

Once you've snagged your first deal, it's a good idea to have a more experienced agent look over your work with you. Soon enough you'll know the ropes like the back of your hand, but when you're getting started it's best to have someone double-check your work.

Are You Going to Take the Leap and Become a Real Estate Agent?

While it can seem like there are a lot of hoops to jump through to become a real estate agent, there are many people who have found a great amount of success after becoming a real estate agent.

Was this article on how to become a real estate agent helpful? Be sure to check out our blog for more great articles about the real estate industry!