How to Become a Real Estate Agent

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4 Steps to Becoming a Realtor

Step 1 Understand state laws

Every state has its own unique real estate laws, so it’s important that people who want to pursue a real estate career familiarize themselves with the laws in their state. Laws may regulate how houses can be bought and sold, as well as landlord-tenant issues, land use, and construction. In addition, there are federal laws that govern how real estate agents can list, show, and promote properties for sale, so those who want to enter the field should be familiar.

Step 2 Meet state real estate licensing requirements

Just as every state has different laws about real estate transactions, each state’s law addresses standards for professional licensing. One of the requirements is to complete pre-licensing courses, which may cover real estate financing, agent conduct expectations, title transfer, leases, property management, and closing a transaction. In addition, states may require that prospective real estate agents be a certain age, have a high school diploma, or have sales experience in order to get a license. Information about each state’s licensing standards can be found at

Step 3 Find a real estate brokerage to work with

New real estate agents are required to work with a broker for at least two years after getting a license. This company will oversee all sales to ensure they are handled within state and federal guidelines. In some cases, people must find a broker to work with before taking their licensing exam. When looking for a real estate broker consider the company’s reputation, how it promotes properties, the area it serves, and how many agents work there. Also keep in mind that you will likely be paid on a commission-only basis.

Step 4 Pass the licensing examinations

Prospective real estate agents must pass state and federal licensing examinations, which are generally made up of 60 to 100 questions. They may also be required to pay an application fee of about $300, submit to a background check, and have their fingerprints put on file.

FAQ on Earning Your Real Estate License

  • Yes. Professionals need a place to advertise their properties for sale, and a listing service can help them get attention for these properties.

  • New real estate agents need to learn the ropes and get information they may not have learned during their pre-licensing courses. Mentors can help them learn about the daily realities of the job.

  • Real estate agents must be able to attract attention to their business. By building a website and blog, as well as creating a strong social media presence, they can make it easier for potential customers to find them.

  • Yes. By creating a network of other real estate agents—as well as contractors, lenders, insurance agents, and appraisers—professionals can meet potential customers and provide the best customer service to existing clients.

  • The industry is always evolving, so real estate agents should keep abreast of changes in the local market in order to understand trends and provide sound advice to clients. Also, in some states, real estate agents are required to take Continuing education classes in order to keep a license in good standing.

Real Estate Agent Salary & Job Growth

Prospective real estate agents have the potential to earn healthy salaries and experience growth in their jobs. This section outlines how much these professionals can make, depending on what state they work in, and what the occupational outlook is for their industry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median salary for real estate agents was $45,990 in May 2017. Similarly, PayScale reports that the base salary range for these professionals is between $22,679 and $100,777, depending on their experience level. In addition, real estate agents have the potential to make additional money through bonuses of up to $30,639, profit sharing of up to $400,000, and commissions that can be between $1,030 and $387,832 each year.

Alabama Mean wage annual: $55,960
Currently Employed: 860
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 3.60%
Alaska Mean wage annual: $71,030
Currently Employed: 200
Change in Employment (2016-2026): -3.00%
Arizona Mean wage annual: $62,690
Currently Employed: 3,340
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 21.60%
Arkansas Mean wage annual: $41,660
Currently Employed: 780
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 13.70%
California Mean wage annual: $68,860
Currently Employed: 10,380
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 22.20%
Colorado Mean wage annual: $63,320
Currently Employed: 4,050
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 24.20%
Connecticut Mean wage annual: $45,230
Currently Employed: 630
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 5.20%
Delaware Mean wage annual: $46,670
Currently Employed: 520
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 8.10%
Florida Mean wage annual: $57,520
Currently Employed: 17,750
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 20.20%
Georgia Mean wage annual: $46,220
Currently Employed: 11,170
Change in Employment (2016-2026): 4.40%
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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2016 and 2026 employment for real estate agents will increase by six percent, which is the same as the average rate for all other careers. The amount of growth the industry will experience will generally be in step with changes in the economy. However, as members of the millennial generation become more established in their jobs and more interested in home ownership, there will be a demand for real estate agents to assist them. In addition, those who focus on the commercial, industrial, and retail markets will see growth during times of increased consumer spending.

Finding a Real Estate Program

With so many different real estate programs available, students may have a hard time deciding which one meets their needs. This section provides information to help prospective real estate professionals find the program that’s right for them.

When choosing a real estate program, consider cost, which certifications are offered, and how courses are delivered. Using the following search tool can help you find a program that’s right for you.

Professional Real Estate Associations & Groups

Making connections is key to being successful in the real estate industry. One way that professionals can make these vital connections is by joining associations, which can provide networking opportunities, as well as the information real estate agents need to build their business.

  • National Association of REALTORS®

    Since 1908, this organization has provided support to realtors across the country. Members can participate in networking events, receive Continuing education, and get the latest industry research through the association.

  • Asian Real Estate Association of America

    This organization, which was founded in 2003, is the only real estate trade association that caters specifically to the needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the industry. The AREAA provides services from local chapters, an annual convention, discounts for events and tax advice, and advocacy services.

  • National Trust Real Estate Association

    Members of the National Trust Real Estate Association are given opportunities to form relationships with industry colleagues through a number of events hosted by the organization. In addition, the association provides educational programs and web resources to help members keep their knowledge and skills current.

  • Commercial Real Estate Development Association

    Commercial real estate professionals can attend an annual conference, enroll in educational programs, and participate in leadership development training. Also, the association advocates on behalf of the members by educating legislators on how the laws affect the industry.

  • National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals

    As The Voice for Hispanic Real Estate®, this association helps to promote Hispanic members of the industry, and meet the needs of Hispanic homeowners and sellers. The group organizes leadership events, education programs, and networking opportunities.

  • American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association

    This group has been adding to the knowledge base of real estate and urban economics through research since its founding in 1964.The association organizes conferences, publishes scholarly journals, and provides awards for those who demonstrate excellence in industry research.

  • Commercial Real Estate Women Network

    This group has been catering to the needs of women working in the commercial real estate sector since 1989. Members participate in networking events, conventions, leadership summits, and webinars. In addition, the organization gives professionals the opportunity to earn a leadership certificate.

  • Women’s Council of Realtors

    This organization, which was founded in 1938, helps women advance in the real estate industry. Members can participate in networking events, get qualified leads from a referral center, and take advantage of discounts on resources that help them succeed in their work.

  • Institute of Real Estate Management

    An affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS®, the Institute of Real Estate Management provides training and professional development to members of the industry. The organization offers professional certifications, webinars, and individual courses to help educate its members. In addition, the institute provides industry journals, career development resources, and networking opportunities.

  • Real Estate Staging Association

    This group works to promote high standards in real estate staging. Member benefits include education programs, events, and discounts on professional resources.

Resources for Realtors

People who want to pursue a career in real estate have a myriad of resources available to help them learn and grow in their career. The following are some examples of resources they can use to better understand the industry.

  • Real Estate Terminology - Columbia University

    This page includes terminology compiled by Columbia University that those in the real estate industry need to know.

  • Journal of Real Estate Research

    Published by the American Real Estate Society, this journal includes research on finance, management, valuation, development, and marketing.

  • Research Reports

    This page includes information on various reports provided by the National Association of REALTORS® that cover commercial real estate, home buyers and sellers, land markets, and technology.

  • IREM Courses

    This page lists courses provided by the Institute of Real Estate Management. Class topics cover areas such as property management strategies, real estate loan analysis, asset management, communication methods, and industry ethics.

  • Green Resource Council

    The Green REsource Council of the National Association of REALTORS® provides information on green building and its impact on the real estate market.

  • Realtor Magazine

    This magazine covers issues related to technology, real estate law and ethics, sales, marketing, and home design.

  • Real Estate News - Wall Street Journal

    This page provides the latest news on the real estate industry.

  • Webinars - IREM

    This site includes live and recorded webinars from the Institute of Real Estate Management.

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