How to Become a Real Estate Agent

It takes training, experience, and keen insight to help someone find their perfect new home.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Follow these steps to become a real estate agent.

Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest decisions a person will ever make. Learn how to become a real estate agent, and you’ll be taking a huge amount of stress off your clients’ shoulders.

But it takes training, experience, and keen insight to help someone find their perfect new home. Find out all there is to know about starting a career in real estate. 

What Is a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent helps people buy, sell, and rent homes or commercial real estate. Along with finding potential buyers and sellers, a real estate agent is an advisor about prices, mortgages, and the current real estate market.

What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?

When you become a real estate agent, you are a salesperson and a whole lot more. You may work for buyers or sellers. In fact, when your real estate business is up and running, you may be helping several clients to who want to sell their homes, along with another set of clients who are looking for properties to buy.

On the selling side, you will:

  • Build a list of properties for sale, detailing the location and features to attract buyers.
  • Compare similar properties that have sold recently so you can set a competitive market price.
  • Advise sellers on how to make their homes more appealing to potential buyers.
  • Promote your clients’ properties through ads and open houses.
  • Negotiate the final selling price.
  • Prepare contracts, purchase agreements, and other paperwork.
  • Coordinate property closings, oversee the signing of documents, and disbursement of funds.
  • Make presentations to current or prospective customers.

On the buying side, you will:

  • Show properties to prospective buyers.
  • Investigate your clients’ financial and credit status to help them obtain financing.
  • Develop a network of attorneys, mortgage lenders, and contractors to help your buyers.
  • Present purchase offers to sellers, and mediate final negotiations on the selling price and terms.
  • Help buyers understand mortgage options, interest rates, and finance terms.
  • Work with title companies, escrow companies, home inspectors, and pest control inspectors to assure the property is in order before the sale is final.

For more information, take a look at this typical real estate agent job description on Monster.

Real Estate Agent Hours and Work Environment

Agents work through a broker who is licensed to manage a real estate business. Many brokers have franchise agreements with well-known real estate companies.

Because you are considered self-employed as a real estate agent, you set your own work hours and schedule. Some agents work more than 40 hours a week, including evenings and weekends when clients are available.

But can you be a part-time real estate agent? You sure can. Many agents work in real estate part-time or combine it with another career.

You will be on the go, and a lot of your work will be done in buyers’ and sellers’ homes. You might work in a real estate company branch office, or from your home. You will spend a lot of time in your car, traveling to properties and meeting with clients.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Becoming a real estate agent includes a combination of classroom learning, licensing, and experience.

Every real estate broker sets its own requirements for hiring agents, but they generally require a high school diploma or GED. A bachelor’s degree in marketing, promotions, advertising sales, or business administration may give you an advantage over other candidates, but it’s usually not a must-have.

Real Estate Agent Requirements

To be a real estate agent, most states require you to:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • complete a number of hours of real estate courses
  • pass a licensing exam

In some states, you must be sponsored by a broker while working to get your license. Real estate companies may provide additional training when you join them and will have you work with an experienced agent while you learn the ropes.

Real Estate Classes and Exam

Before you can take the real estate license exam, you will take classes in subjects like real estate fundamentals, real estate law, and mortgage financing.

You can take these courses at a community college, state college, or university to earn a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree in real estate. Pressed for time and need a flexible schedule? You can also take real estate classes online.  

Need some help paying for your classes? Check out these real estate agent scholarships that can help cover some of the cost of your education.

The number of required hours and classes you must complete are different in every state, but usually include 60 to 90 hours, and take anywhere from three to six months.

Along with your passing your real estate license exam, some states also require you pass a background check. Furthermore, you must renew your license every two to four years by taking continuing education courses.

For additional information about how to become a real estate agent, see:

How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make?

The median real estate agent salary is $73,955, and ranges from $36,527 to $98,741. Your income will vary widely depending on where you are located and how much time you spend on the job. You can look up the average salary for real estate agents in your area by using the Monster Salary Guide.

How Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid?

A real estate agent’s pay is commission based on a percentage of the property sale price, usually around 6%. The agent representing the seller and the one representing the buyer split that commission, with both agents’ brokers getting a percentage as well.

The split is usually 50-50 but can vary due to a number of conditions. Based on that formula, if you sell a $200,000 home, the total commission would be $12,000. You would be paid $6,000 minus the portion you owe your broker.

How to Find a Real Estate Agent Job 

One of the keys to knowing how to become a real estate agent is to present yourself in the best light. A great way to do that is with a polished real estate agent resume that you can use to apply for real estate agent jobs on Monster.

The largest real estate companies in the U.S. include Keller Williams Reality, RE/MAX, and Coldwell Banker, but where’s the market the hottest? According to the BLS, these are the top five states for real estate agent jobs:

Here are the top five areas:

Start Your Real Estate Career Here

Now that you know how to become a real estate agent, you'll be looking to close on an awesome job. Want some help with that? Upload your resume for free to Monster. We can hook you up with recruiters—the real estate agents of the employment world—who can match you with dream jobs that would be a great fit.