Becoming a successful real estate agent is a combination of investing time in education, researching a broker who can help you get your first clients and passing state and national licensing exams. But that's not all there is to the industry. Read on to find out some of the more overlooked aspects of the real estate business.

1. Get Educated
No matter in which state you live, you must take pre-licensing courses. However, state requirements differ greatly. For instance, California requires three college-level courses. Others (such as Idaho, which requires two courses totaling 90 hours) require a set number of hours of education. Contact your state's real estate commission for your state's requirements for licensing.

Some real estate agencies have specific education requirements. Thus, you may have to take an additional course after being hired on with an agency.

2. Choose a Brokerage
A real estate brokerage is the agency or office from which real estate agents and brokers work. Since working with a broker is a requirement in order to practice as a real estate agent, you will need to contact a broker before graduating from your training course. Brokers have at least three years additional real estate training, and can guide you through questions you have when it comes to working in the field, as well as listing and selling homes.

When you look for a broker, think about size of brokerage, its reputation and additional training offered. Check broker reputations by reading online comments, asking friends and neighbors who they've had experiences with and getting advice from your instructor on choosing a brokerage.

Another way to learn more about a brokerage is by carefully crafting your interview questions. This will not only help you gather information, but solid interview questions help the broker determine if you'd fit in well with the agency.

A few questions to ask:

  • Does your brokerage require additional coursework?
  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • Is there someone within the brokerage I can work with a majority of the time while learning?
  • What is your client contact style for developing leads?
  • How long does it take on average to earn commission checks?

Which answers are acceptable is up to you. For instance, one person may prefer a brokerage that does ask for additional coursework because of a desire for more training before jumping in, while another may appreciate having someone who will work with them every day while learning.

3. Get Licensed
Real estate licenses require the passing of state and national exams. In addition, you may have to provide a criminal background check. Between the exam and license fees for a real estate salesperson, you can expect to pay at least $200, thought prices vary from state-to-state.

4. Develop a Real Estate Agent Budget
While becoming a real estate agent isn't cheap, it's cheaper than entering many professions. Startup fees are estimated between $1,500-2,000, which should be divided between licensing courses, business cards, signs and advertising and association fees – not counting additional exam fees.

Since real estate is a commission-based business, you'll also need enough money set aside for you to get by for a few months. These are approximations of actual costs because they can vary based on individual choices and state-by-state costs.

5. Make the Realtor/Real Estate Agent Decision
In order to utilize the title "realtor", you must join the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This is done by choosing an affiliated brokerage as well as attending a set number of meetings designated by your local chapter. (For more, see Do You Need A Real Estate Agent?)

6. Build Your Client/Referral Portfolio
The best way to build your portfolio is twofold: get a mentor, and use your personal network. Barbara Kennon, the vice president of the National Association of Realtors, says the best arrangement for a new agent is to find a mentor in the real estate agency you choose who guides you towards buyer/seller contacts and splits commission. You'll learn the profession from your mentor, while gaining your first commission checks.

Also, asking your friends and family for referrals of people who are considering buying or selling a home is a great way to begin networking. Someone's always looking for a new home, and that referral may get you started in your new business.

Becoming a real estate agent is similar to starting a small business. Even though you'll work within a brokerage of established realtors or real estate agents, you need a startup fund for business expenses and to cover several months of personal expenses while you build your client base. Take every step seriously, and you'll have your first "sold" sign up with your savings account still intact.

Related Articles
  1. Home & Auto

    Finding A Good Real Estate Agent

    Don't go it alone in the real estate market. We'll show you how to find the help you need.
  2. Home & Auto

    Do You Need A Real Estate Agent?

    There's no guarantee that realtors will act in your best interest, but it may be worth hiring one anyway.
  3. Home & Auto

    5 Things Every Real Estate Pro Knows

    Find out how to stop chasing the market and start leading it.
  4. Professionals

    5 Ways Your Small Business Is at Risk for a Cyber Attack

    Small business owners think they are immune to hacks because of their size, but they are not. When they find the guard is down, hackers are exploiting common weakness.
  5. Entrepreneurship

    Top 3 Most Successful Korean Entrepreneurs

    Discover the backgrounds of some of the most successful Korean entrepreneurs and information about the companies and projects leading to their success.
  6. Entrepreneurship

    Top 3 Most Successful African Entrepreneurs

    Discover the educational backgrounds and entrepreneurial ventures of some of the most successful and well-known African entrepreneurs.
  7. Entrepreneurship

    Top 5 Most Successful Swedish Entrepreneurs

    Understand what makes Sweden a great place for entrepreneurship. Learn about five successful Swedish entrepreneurs who are making big impacts.
  8. Investing

    Essential Tips on Making Your Hobby Your Career

    Here are some ways to turn what you love to do for fun into your job.
  9. Entrepreneurship

    Top 5 Most Successful Mexican Entrepreneurs

    Understand why so many socially conscious entrepreneurs have come out of Mexico. Learn about the top most successful Mexican entrepreneurs.
  10. Investing

    Oprah Winfrey Biography

    Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American media magnate, television and film producer, and talk show host with a net worth of roughly $3 billion.
  1. Do real estate agents need a degree?

    In the majority of areas, a degree is not required to become a real estate agent, but completing an associate or bachelor's ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can I buy insurance to reduce unlimited liability in a partnership?

    Partnership insurance is actually quite common. Most of the time, partners buy insurance to safeguard against the possibility ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are the benefits of financial sampling?

    Financial sampling allows auditors to approximate the rate of error within financial statements. For accounting purposes, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the benefits of prorating expenses?

    When a person prorates expenses between personal and business expenses, he is able to capture the maximum amount of tax benefits ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Does my employer's matching contribution count towards the maximum I can contribute ...

    Contributions to 401(k) plans come from employee salary deferral and employer match dollars. According to the IRS, employees ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!