A Guide: How to Become a Real Estate Agent

A Guide: How to Become a Real Estate Agent

So, you’ve heard you can make a good living as a real estate agent, and you think you have a decent sense of the real estate agent job description. But how do you get in on the agent life?

Taking clients around to find their dream house may be a highlight of the job, there’s a lot more to the role!

As an agent, you’ll need to know how to review property values and sale prices. You’ll need to make recommendations for listing prices and bids. You’ll need to learn to estimate your own real estate salary according to expected commissions and plan your finances accordingly.

You’ll need to be ready to work through negotiations, which can get thorny and drawn out. You’ll need to know neighborhoods and cities — not just the perks of living there, but also any laws and regulations related to residential real estate, too.

No wonder the job requires a real estate license! There’s a lot to learn, but the job is ultimately a rewarding one.

Here are 8 important steps for how to become a real estate agent:

Step 1: Make sure you know what the lifestyle is like and what you can expect to earn and spend.

Being a real estate agent can be great. Your real estate salary depends on the deals you close, so the earning potential is high. You have some flexibility and can control your schedule, though this isn’t a 9-5 gig. The world of real estate continues through weekends and sometimes evenings, though the fast pace can be exciting.

That said, before you start showing houses, there are up-front costs. You need to invest in education to get your real estate license. Then, you’ll continue to spend on the ongoing costs of being an agent.

Depending on the norms and rules in your brokerage, you may need to cover client lunches and closing gifts, your cell phone bill and Internet costs. You might need to invest in your own real estate marketing budget, which can run over $1,000 a year; a professional website if you’re not using Homesnap Pro; and $50 to $300 per year in post-licensing classes to keep your expertise up to date.

Your salary will vary according to the market, season and the size of your own client base. For an idea of what you’ll be earning, you can check out a simple real estate agent salary calculator, and then subtract the costs you expect to be responsible for.

Step 2: Find out what’s required to get a real estate license in your area, including real estate license costs

This starts with checking your state’s real estate requirements. You’ll need to complete some education and take an exam – both of which come with their own state-by-state costs.

Step 3: Enroll in necessary pre-license coursework

Your education will look very different depending on what’s available in your area and what you feel like doing. Pre-licensing courses can be offered online and in classroom settings, at universities and brokerages, and in your home.

You can expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars on your tuition, but the exact costs will vary.

Step 4: Take your real estate license exam and pay licensing fees

Once you’ve passed that exam, it’s time to drop some more cash on getting your license. That’ll run you around $325 (or more) for your licensing fee plus $25 (or so) for a real estate license application fee. But – you guessed it – the cost varies. You should also be prepared to pay $100 or so to get fingerprinted and run a background check.

Now that you’ve spent some dollars, jumped through some hoops, and passed your exam, you’ll have your real estate license in hand! But you’ve still got a few more steps.

Step 5: Find a real estate broker

When you’re a newly licensed agent, you’re required to start off working under a broker. Depending on your state, you’ll be required to work under a broker for about three years before you have the option to become a broker yourself.

Be sure to complete thorough research on brokers before you agree to work with them. The broker controls how you get paid and your niche. They also impact your real estate salary, as they take a cut of your commission — think of it as a trade-off for the brand recognition you’ll get from the broker, the office space they’ll be providing, and other tools and benefits they may offer.

Often, brokers take a flat percentage of the commission of new agents, but that percentage can sometimes be negotiated after some time. Try talking with more experienced agents working under the brokers you’re considering so you’ll know what to expect.

Step 6: Join a local or statewide MLS and keep up with your dues

Becoming a member of your state and local real estate board is typically necessary. So is joining your local Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”). Your real estate board may require a monthly fee, and association fees vary by location. Talk with your broker or do some Googling to learn what you should be prepared for.

Step 7: Decide whether to become a REALTOR®

Members of the National Association of REALTORS sign a code of ethics and pay dues.

Talk with your broker about whether they require you become a REALTOR ® , and then consider what makes sense to you.

Your membership dues are a tax write-off, but they can run you a couple hundred dollars each year.

Step 8: You did it! Celebrate and start making the most of agent life

Congrats! You are your own boss! You have flexibility in your schedule! You have some control of your earnings! It’s time to immerse yourself in the tools and resources and networks that can make your life the best it can be in your first year as a real estate agent.

Be sure to download Homesnap Pro to take advantage of features that can make your life easier – by allowing you to get more visibility with a Google business profile, seamlessly communicate with clients, run digital advertising campaigns, run quick comps on the go, and so much more.