What is a Real Estate Agent?

What is a real estate agent salary?

What does a real estate agent do?

Hopefully the information below will help.  It is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition.

Quick Facts: Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents

  • 2010 Median Pay $42,680 per year
  • $20.52 per hour
  • Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
  • Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
  • On-the-job Training See How to Become One
  • Number of Jobs, 2010 466,100
  • Job Outlook, 2010-20 11% (About as fast as average)

 

What Do Real Estate Agents Do?

Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell, and rent properties. Brokers and agents do the same type of work, but brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Sales agents must work with a broker.

Duties

Real estate brokers and sales agents typically do the following:

      • Solicit potential clients to buy, sell, and rent properties
      • Advise clients on prices, mortgages, market conditions, and other related information
      • Compare properties to determine a competitive market price
      • Generate lists of properties for sale, including details such as location and features
      • Promote properties through advertisements, open houses, and listing services
      • Take prospective buyers or renters to see properties
      • Cultivate relationships with loan officers, home inspectors as well as contractors like HRS Roofing
      • Present purchase offers to sellers for consideration
      • Mediate negotiations between the buyer and seller
      • Ensure all terms of purchase contracts are metPrepare documents such as loyalty contracts, purchase agreements, and deeds

Because of the complexity of buying or selling a home or commercial property, people often seek help from real estate brokers and sales agents. Although most real estate brokers and sales agents sell residential property, others sell commercial property, and a small number sell industrial, agricultural, or other types of real estate.

Brokers and agents can represent either the buyer or the seller in a transaction. Buyers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to understand what they are looking for and how much they can afford. Sellers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to help them decide how much to ask for and to convince them that the agent or broker can find them a qualified buyer.

Real estate brokers and sales agents must be knowledgeable about the real estate market in their area. To match properties to clients’ needs, they should be familiar with local communities, including knowledge of the crime rate and the proximity to schools and shopping. Brokers and agents also must stay current on financing options; government programs; types of available mortgages; and real estate, zoning, and fair housing laws.

Real estate brokers are licensed to manage their own businesses. Brokers, as independent businesspeople, often sell real estate owned by others. In addition to helping clients buy and sell properties, they may help rent or manage properties for a fee. Many operate a real estate office, handling business details and overseeing the work of sales agents.

Real estate sales agents must work with a broker. Sales agents often work for brokers on a contract basis, earning a portion of the commission from each property they sell.

 

Work Environment

Real estate brokers and sales agents held about 466,100 jobs in 2010. About 57 percent were self-employed.

Most of the remainder worked in the real estate industry in brokerage offices, leasing offices, and other real estate establishments. Workplace size can range from a one-person business to a large firm with numerous branch offices. Many brokers have franchise agreements with national or regional real estate companies. Under this arrangement, the broker pays a fee to be affiliated with a widely known real estate organization.

While some real estate brokers and sales agents work in a typical office environment, others are able to telecommute and work out of their homes. In both cases, however, workers spend much of their time away from their desks—showing properties to customers, traveling to see properties for sale, and meeting with prospective clients.

Work Schedules

Many real estate brokers and sales agents work more than a standard 40-hour workweek. They often work evenings and weekends to accommodate clients’ schedules. Additionally, beginners, in particular, may spend a significant amount of time networking and attending community events to meet potential clients. Although they frequently work long or irregular hours, many can set their own schedules.

Some brokers and sales agents work part time, often combining their real estate activities with other careers.

 

How to Become a Real Estate Broker or Sales Agent

Real estate brokers and sales agents need at least a high school diploma. Both brokers and sales agents must be licensed. To become licensed, candidates complete a particular number of hours of real estate courses.

Licenses

In all states and the District of Columbia, real estate brokers and sales agents must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but most have similar basic requirements:

      • Candidates must be 18 years old
      • Pass an exam
      • Complete a number of hours of real estate courses

Some states have additional requirements, such as passing a background check. In many cases, licenses are not transferrable among states, but some states have reciprocity agreements and will accept licenses issued by other states.

To obtain a broker’s license, individuals need a specific amount of experience as a licensed sales agent, usually 1 to 3 years. They must also take additional formal classroom training. In some states, a bachelor’s degree may be substituted in place of some experience or training requirements.

State licenses typically must be renewed every 2 to 4 years. In most states, brokers and agents must complete continuing education courses to renew their license. To verify exact licensing requirements, prospective brokers and agents should contact the real estate licensing commission of the state in which they wish to work.

Education

Real estate brokers and sales agents must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. To become licensed, brokers and agents must take state-accredited pre-licensing courses. Some states may waive pre-licensing course requirements if the candidate has taken college courses in real estate.

As the real estate market becomes more competitive and complex, some employers prefer to hire candidates with college courses or a college degree. Some community colleges, colleges, and universities offer courses in real estate. Some offer associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in real estate, and many others offer certificate programs. Courses in finance, business administration, economics, and law also can be useful. Brokers intending to open their own company often take business courses, such as marketing and accounting.

In addition to offering pre-licensing courses, many real estate associations have courses and professional development programs for both beginners and experienced agents. These courses cover a variety of topics, such as real estate fundamentals, real estate law, and mortgage financing.

Work Experience

To get a broker’s license in most states, real estate brokers must have experience working as a licensed sales agent. Requirements vary by state, but most require 1 to 3 years of experience.

Advancement

In larger firms, experienced agents can advance to sales manager or general manager. Sales agents who earn their broker’s license may open their own offices.

Important Qualities

Independence. Real estate brokers and sales agents must be able to work independently, managing their own time and organizing, planning, and prioritizing their work. Some brokers manage a one-person business in which they must handle every aspect of the business.

Interpersonal skills. Strong interpersonal skills are essential for real estate brokers and sales agents, because they spend much of their time interacting with clients and customers. As a result, they must be pleasant, enthusiastic, and trustworthy to attract clients.

Persuasion skills. Real estate brokers and sales agents need to be persuasive to convince potential clients of their ability to sell real estate and to persuade customers to buy available properties.

Problem-solving skills. Real estate brokers and sales agents need problem-solving skills to address, often immediately, any concerns clients or potential customers may have with a property. They also mediate negotiations between the seller and buyer.

Pay

The median annual wage of real estate brokers was $54,910 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,550, and the top 10 percent earned more than $161,820.

The median annual wage of real estate sales agents was $40,030 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,460, and the top 10 percent earned more than $95,220.

Brokers and sales agents earn most of their income from commissions on sales. The commission varies by the type of property and its value. Commissions are often divided among the buying and selling agents, brokers, and firms.

An agent’s income often depends on economic conditions, the agent’s individual motivation, and the types of property available. Income usually increases as agents become better and more experienced at sales. Earnings can be irregular, especially for beginners, as agents sometimes go weeks or months without a sale. Some agents become active in community organizations and local real estate organizations to broaden their contacts and increase their sales.

Many real estate brokers and sales agents work more than a standard 40-hour workweek. They often work evenings and weekends to accommodate clients’ schedules. Additionally, beginners, in particular, may spend a significant amount of time networking and attending community events to meet potential clients. Although they frequently work long or irregular hours, many can set their own schedules.

Some brokers and sales agents work part time, often combining their real estate activities with other careers.

 

Job Outlook

Employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is expected to grow 11 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment of real estate brokers and agents will grow as the real estate market rebounds from the recent economic recession. Both financial and non-financial factors spur demand for home sales. Real estate is perceived as a good long-term investment, and many people want to own their homes.

Population growth and mobility also will continue to stimulate the need for new brokers and agents. In addition to first-time home buyers, people will need brokers and agents when looking for a larger home, relocating for a new job, and other reasons.

The real estate market is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy, and employment of real estate brokers and agents will vary accordingly. In periods of economic growth or stability, employment will grow to accommodate families and individuals looking to buy homes. Alternatively, the amount of work for brokers and agents will slow and employment may decline during periods of declining economic activity or rising interest rates.

Job Prospects

Although the real estate market depends on economic conditions, it is relatively easy to enter the occupation. In times of economic growth, brokers and sales agents will have good job opportunities. In an economic downturn, there tend to be fewer job opportunities, and brokers and agents often have a lower income due to fewer sales and purchases.

Beginning agents will face competition from well-established, more experienced brokers and agents. Because income is dependent on sales, beginners may have trouble sustaining themselves in the occupation during periods of slower activity.

Brokers should fare better because they generally have a large client base from years of experience as sales agents. Those with strong sales ability and extensive social and business connections in their communities should have the best chances for success.

 

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/real-estate-brokers-and-sales-agents.htm

 

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