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How to Become a Real Estate Agent: A Step-By-Step Guide

The global real estate market is currently valued at more than $7 billion, with an excepted growth rate of 1.8%. So, are you wondering how to become a real estate agent?

You’re not alone, as many view this as a lucrative job opportunity. Luckily, you’ve found this article, as we’ll explain in detail how to become one, the associated costs, the challenges you might face, and the benefits of pursuing this career choice. 

An Overview of Real Estate Agents: A Primer

A real estate agent is a sales agent who helps buyers and sellers in the real estate market. Agents help you find potential commercial and residential spaces if you’re a buyer.

If you’re a seller, they’ll help you get the best price for your property and walk you through the negotiation process. 

These agents usually work with agencies and real estate brokerage firms that assign them to work and help them secure a deal. They have various responsibilities. 

  • Guide buyers and sellers. 
  • Ensure that deals are executed under the best terms. 
  • Determine buyers’ needs and financial capabilities to present suitable units to them. 
  • Perform market analysis to estimate the value of properties accurately. 
  • Provide consultation regarding mortgages and legal requirements. 
  • Manage property auctions or exchanges. 
  • Manage all related paperwork. 
  • Prepare and maintain listings of available properties. 
  • Cooperate with home inspectors, appraisers, escrow companies, and lenders. 
  • Advertise properties and arrange open houses to invite potential buyers. 

How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make?

Realtors or real estate agents make an average of $96,214 annually in the United States. An agent with one or two years of experience makes about $86,742, while a realtor with more than ten years of experience makes $113,811 per year. 

Working for some of the industry’s most established firms and agencies means you can make more money. Real estate agents aren’t brokers, so they can’t work independently, but if you work for an established broker, you might make more than $140,000 per year. 

A professional real estate agent showing her clients around a newly built house

You can make more money in certain states, given the same number of years of experience. Real estate agents get the highest salaries in West Virginia, New York, and Vermont.

In West Virginia, a realtor makes $111,744 a year. Realtors in Hawaii, Maine, and Louisiana make less than the national average. 

The amount of money you make as a real estate agent depends on the following factors. 

  • Number of years of experience you have in the market. 
  • Location. 
  • Number of successful sales. 
  • Network connections.
  • Business costs. 
  • Brokerage fees. 

What You’ll Need to Become a Real Estate Agent [& Associated Costs]

To become a real estate agent, you don’t have to be a college graduate. Yet, each state has a preset list of requirements that you should meet to become a real estate agent. If you want to hold the title of a realtor, you should join the National Association of Realtors

Meet State Requirements

Every state has specific requirements regarding education, prelicensing and post-licensing requirements, exams, the application process, and background checks.

As a beginner real estate agent, working on continuing education and the next level of licensing can open doors to more and better job opportunities. 

You should be at least 18 years old to pursue a career as a real estate agent. In most states, holding a high school degree is enough, and in some cases, you can become an agent even if you haven’t received your diploma as long as you meet the minimum age requirement. 

Some states offer reciprocal licensing agreements, so you can get your real estate license in one state and work in another. 

Take a Prelicensing Course

A pre-license education is a must, no matter where you live. You must take this mandatory course to be eligible for the exam that qualifies you for your license. 

Course requirements vary by state, so you need only 63 hours in Florida but 135 hours in California. In most states, you can attend this course online or face-to-face at community colleges or real estate schools. 

Take an Exam

After the prelicensing course, you should take and pass a real estate exam. The licensing exam is usually multiple-choice, but the number of questions varies according to the state. 

In general, the exam will be divided into two parts. The first part is general about national real estate principles, and the second is state specific. 

You should pass both sections to be eligible for the real estate license. If you don’t, you can retake the exam. Each set has a different set of rules regarding resitting the exam. 

A female real estate agent showing a family a house

Pass a Background Check and Get Fingerprinted

Every applicant should get a background check at most 60 days before applying for the license. You can obtain this from the local sheriff’s office or police station. 

In most cases, you’ll be denied your license if you have been convicted of a serious offense, a Tier II or Tier III sex offense, or a financial felony relating to real estate. 

Post-licensing Requirements

In some states, you must sign up for post-licensing real estate education to change your license status from probationary to full. These requirements can help you land better job opportunities with a sponsoring broker. 

Activate Your License

Once you’ve passed the exam, you should apply for the license and have your documents finalized. Your state will email the approval. 

Become a Realtor

Becoming a realtor adds to your credibility in the market and provides better business tools, market data, educational opportunities, and access to exclusive information.

As a realtor, you’ll gain access to the Realtors Property Resource, which offers valuable information regarding permits, zoning, mortgage, and foreclosures. 

Continued Education

This depends on what you want to do in the future, as the market keeps changing. You can work with digital real estate investors or even join crowdfunding for real estate

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent?

The cost of becoming a real estate agent can amount to several thousand dollars, so you need to consider this before deciding if this is the right job for you.

In some states, like Ohio, the cost is more than $1000, while in Vermont, it can be as little as $400. 

The average prelicensing cost is $350 in most states, while the test costs between $100 and $300. The application costs an average of $25 to $30 in most states and the background check costs around $100. 

If you wish to become a realtor, you’ll pay a membership fee of $185. After that, you can consider joining a brokerage. 

In this case, you’ll endure monthly costs that include your business cards, marketing your services, supplies, cameras for real estate, listing services memberships, and continuing education. These costs vary depending on where you work. 

Is it Hard to Become a Real Estate Agent?

Becoming a licensed real estate agent is relatively easy compared to other career options with similar earning potential. You don’t need specific education, and you can quickly get your license and start working with clients through brokerage firms. 

Colorado is the most challenging state to get your real estate license in because you must take two 200-hour courses and pass two exams. You also need to meet the other requirements. In other states, it’s not that difficult. 

A young married couple in a meeting with a real estate agent

How Long Does it Take to Become a Real Estate Agent?

Applying for your license and getting it takes four to six months, depending on where you live and plan to work as a real estate agent. In some cases, you might spend more time if you’re unable to pass the test on the first take. 

Once you’ve passed the exam, you might spend a few more months to land a job opportunity with a reputable brokerage firm. Becoming a successful real estate agent in a competitive market takes time, patience, and dedication. 

How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Five Simple Steps

Becoming a real estate agent can be the first step in a successful career that provides you with financial stability. Statistics show that 84% of licensed realtors own their primary residency, while 37% own at least one secondary property. 

Since starting your career as a real estate agent is easy, this profession is constantly increasing in popularity. You can become an agent by following these simple steps. 

1. Meet State’s Requirements

Let Google be your friend and search your state’s requirements for becoming a real estate agent. You’ll be eligible for the following steps if you’re above 18 and have met the state’s requirements. 

2. Get Educated

Each state lists the educational requirements for real estate agents. You can attend classes online or face-to-face to understand the basics of the profession. The courses also teach you about state-specific laws, helping you qualify for the license. 

Research community colleges and real estate schools for classes and attend them regularly. If you can’t physically attend a class, most states will allow you to take it online. 

3. Pass the Exam

Once you have completed your course, you’ll have to take an exam. The exam is usually easy to pass, and if you fail, you can retake it. You might have to wait for a specific period before you’re allowed to retake the exam. 

4. Finish Your Paperwork

After passing your exam, you should fill in an application at the state’s real estate regulatory organization, submit your background check and any other documents, and await a reply. Finally, you’ll receive an email stating that your license is approved. 

5. Join a Brokerage

You’re not a broker, so you can’t work independently. Instead, you should work for a real estate broker, who oversees every real estate transaction. In most cases, you’ll be paid a commission. 

You can search online and review job listings until you find a suitable opportunity. Your chances might be better if you choose to take extra courses. 

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Real Estate Agent

Statistics show that in 2021, there was a 60% increase in the number of real estate agents. Many people consider becoming real estate agents for the following reasons. 

  • You don’t need a college degree, even if you must take specific courses to get your license. 
  • You can build strong relationships to expand your network. Later on, you can consider becoming a realtor or broker. 
  • There’s unlimited income potential. 
  • You get to help people with one of the most important decisions they’ll have to make. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Education is Required to Become a Real Estate Agent?

You don’t have to hold a college degree to become a real estate agent. In most states, a high school diploma is enough, and in some cases, you can apply for a license before getting your certificate.

A business or finance degree can significantly improve your chances as a real estate agent and realtor in a competitive market. 

Can You Become a Real Estate Agent With No Experience?

You don’t have to have any real estate experience to become an agent.

Yet, if you want to work with a successful brokerage firm, you should consider training and apprenticeship positions. These opportunities will teach you about the business, and you’ll be able to build a network. 

Similar Gigs to Check Out

If being a real estate agent isn’t for you, you can check out these gigs for good income potential. 

  • How to Become an Interior Designer: To learn how to become an interior designer, you should complete about two years of education and job training to pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam. 
  • How to Become an Accredited Investor: To learn how to become an accredited investor, you must meet at least one requirement set by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding your net worth, income, or asset size. This status allows you to trade non-registered securities. 
  • How to Become a Property Manager: You should meet the state’s requirements, take a course, and pass an exam to learn how to become a property manager. Once you do, you’ll be able to land your first job, where you get to handle all maintenance and rental work of a property on behalf of the owner. 

Wrapping Up

Becoming a real estate agent takes a few months, but this career opportunity opens up doors to unlimited income potential.

If you don’t have a college education but lots of ambition and patience, this might be the right job for you. 

Tell us what you think in a comment, and don’t forget to share this article with a friend. You might help them embark on a successful journey that transforms their lives. 

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