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Becoming a real estate agent involves a combination of education, researching a broker who can help you get started, and passing your state exam to receive a license.  Here, we’ll show you the main steps to get going.

Step 1: Get Educated - No matter what state you live in, you must take real estate courses before your license exam.  However, state requirements differ greatly, so you need to contact your state’s real estate commission to find out what specific courses you need. These classes won’t just help you on the exam, they’ll also expand your knowledge of the industry in general.

Step 2: Exam Time -  You must apply to take a real estate license exam, so once again, check with your state’s real estate commission for information on submitting an application. Once your courses are completed and your application has been accepted, you’re ready to take your exam.

Step 3: Choose a Brokerage.  A real estate brokerage is an agency or office from which real estate agents and brokers work, and choosing the right one is crucial to your success.  Working with a brokerage is a requirement for agents, so you will need to select a broker to "hang your license with". When looking at a brokerage, think about its size, reputation and commission split. You might also try crafting interview questions.  Some questions you might want to ask: How many years of industry experience do you have?  Is there someone within the brokerage I can work with for further training?  What is your client contact style for developing leads?  How long does it take on average to earn commission checks?

Step 4: Make the Realtor/Real Estate Agent Decision.  In order to use the title “Realtor,” you must join the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  Do this by choosing an affiliated brokerage, then contacting your local NAR branch for membership details. Membership includes access to data, tools and further training you might not otherwise receive.

Step 5: Develop a Budget.  Becoming a real estate agent isn’t cheap, with startup fees estimated between $1,500 to $2,000. You’ll also need to set aside enough money to get by for at least a few months before you make your first sale. Remember, most agents work on commission, so if you're not selling homes, you're not making money.

Step 6: Build Your Client & Referral Portfolio.  First, get a mentor. This way you’ll be able to learn the profession from your mentor while gaining your first commission check.  Second, use your personal network.  You’re surrounded by people who know and trust you, most of whom will be looking to buy or sell their home at some point, and who can recommend you to others. Remember, one successful sale can lead to many more.

Becoming a real estate agent is similar to starting a small business.  But follow these main steps, and you should have your first “Sold” sign up with your savings still intact.

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