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How to Become a Real Estate Agent

If you're wondering how to become a real estate agent, the basic process is fairly simple, although it does vary a lot from state to state.. You will need to take classes, pass exams, earn a real estate license, find a broker to work for, then find sellers or buyers as clients.

To successfully practice as a real estate agent in this competitive business can be challenging. You'll have to stay current on legal changes, understand the real estate contracts and be technologically aware. If you are determined, the payout can be huge.

Here are the basics of what you need to know about becoming a real estate agent.

1) Real Estate Agent Licensing Requirements
The Licensing requirements are different for each state. In general, you will have to:

-Meet an age requirement
-Pass a background check
-Complete approved real estate courses from a state-approved school
-Pass a state exam
-Complete an application form
-Submit various fees

Agents just earning their license work for a real estate broker. Most new agents sign up with one of the big company brokerages. If you decide at some point to work for yourself, you will need to earn a broker license. Note that the most successful agents, even those working for a broker, treat the real estate profession as their own business, not just a job. This is one of the secrets to success in this field.

2) A Day in the Life of a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent's primary job function is to help clients in the (complex) process of buying and selling real estate.

The list of duties includes but is not limited to:

-Interview buyers to determine what kinds of properties they are looking for.
-Submit buyers' purchase offers to sellers.
-Work with lenders, escrow officers, home inspectors, and pest control operators to make sure that transactions close on time.
-Prepare documents such as listing and purchase agreements.
-Be the intermediary in negotiations between buyers and sellers.
-Determine a property's market value by comparing the property with similar properties that have recently sold.
-Schedule appointments to show homes to potential buyers.
-Find properties that are consistent with buyers' needs and available finances.
-There is so much variety that a real estate agent is usually never bored.

3) What is a REALTOR©?
Many people are confused about the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR©.

A real estate agent becomes a REALTOR© when he or she pays an annual fee to the National Association of REALTORS© and subscribes to its Code of Ethics. The agent generally joins through the local board or association, at the city level. Membership in the REALTORS© is optional, but highly recommended.

4) How much can you earn?
Real estate agents are generally paid on commission. This commission is a percentage of the sales price. The seller will generally pay 4-6% of the sales price as the fee for having a professional sell their property. That will often be split equally between the seller's broker and broker who brings the buyer to the table.

As an example, if the fee for a $300,000 property is 6%, the buyer's broker will be paid 3% or $9000 and the seller's broker will also be paid 3% or $9000. The agent is paid directly by the employing broker, using their agreed-upon commission split. This is often 50-50 for beginning agents, so in that case the agent in our example would receive $4500.

Visit Real Estate Career Info for requirements for obtaining a real estate license in your state.

This article may be reprinted if proper credit is given and all links left intact.

Copyright ©2005

Andre McFayden, Ph.D. is a Real Estate Broker and contributor to

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