How to Become a Real Estate Agent

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 Depending on where you live, you can become a real estate agent in about four to six months.

To obtain a license, you must complete a real estate prelicensing course, pass a licensing exam, activate your license, and join a brokerage. Only real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) can use the title Realtor, and they must adhere to the NAR's strict Code of Ethics.

6 Steps to become a real estate agent

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Why Should You Become an Estate Agent?

Working as a real estate agent is incredibly diverse. You won't be doing the same thing every day due to working with various clients and visiting numerous residences. You get to be your own boss and enjoy the satisfaction of guiding buyers and sellers through one of life's most significant transitions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a real estate agent in 2021 is approximately $48,340. Real estate agents with additional training, certification, and experience earn an average of $62,010. The top 10% of agents earned in excess of $102,170.

Entry into the field is simple. Compared to other careers, the majority of which require a bachelor's degree and offer comparable earnings potential, obtaining a real estate license is a relatively quick and inexpensive process.

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6 Steps to Become a Real Estate Agent

If you want to become a real estate agent, you will need to make an initial financial and time commitment, which will vary depending on where you obtain your license. The specific requirements for becoming a real estate agent vary by state, but here is a general overview.

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Research Your State’s Requirements

A national real estate license does not exist at all, so you must meet your state's unique licensing requirements. Consult the directory of regulatory agencies maintained by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) to locate the website of your state's real estate regulatory office.

Each state has its own specifications for:

• Age

• Education requirements (such as a high school diploma or GED); 

• pre-licensing courses and post-licensing requirements; 

• Exams and eligibility for exams; 

• Application process and fees; 

• Background checks and fingerprinting; 

• Continuing education; 

• How to attain the next level of licensing; 

• Reporting criminal history.

Some states have reciprocal licensing agreements with other states, allowing you to obtain a license in one state and use it in another without taking a second license exam. New York reciprocates with Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, among others.

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Attend a Pre-licensing Class

Before taking the real estate license exam, you are required to complete a pre-licensing course from an accredited real estate licensing school at an estimated cost of $350.

State requirements for courses vary. In California, applicants must complete 135 hours of coursework in three real estate classes. In New York and Georgia, the course duration is 75 hours, while in Florida it is 63 hours.

The majority of states offer online courses, in-person courses at real estate schools, and community college courses.

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Take the License Examination

Your instructor should explain scheduling, registering, and paying for the licensing exam. The test typically costs between $100 and $300. Exams are computerized and comprise two sections: a national section on general real estate principles and practices and a state-specific section on your state's real estate laws.

The exams consist of multiple-choice questions, and the number of questions and allotted time vary by state. Each section is scored independently, and you must pass both sections to pass the exam. If you fail one or both sections, you will be able to retake the examination. Each state has its own regulations regarding the number of times you may retake an exam, the time between exams, and the deadline for completing any retakes.

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Activate Your Real Estate Agent License

After passing the exam, you must submit an application, along with any required documents and fees, typically between $200 and $400, to your state's real estate regulatory agency.

Your real estate license certificate will be mailed to you once your application is approved, and your name will be searchable on the state's website under the licensees section. Keep in mind that you cannot work as a real estate agent until the state real estate authority issues your license.

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Consider To become a Realtor

Many people interchange the terms real estate agent and realtor, but these terms are distinct. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and they follow strict Code of Ethics. Although both are licensed to assist buyers and sellers throughout the real estate transaction process, only Realtors are members of the NAR and subscribe to its Code of Ethics.

The National Association of Realtors is the largest trade association in the United States, with 1.5 million members who work in the residential and commercial real estate industries as salespeople, brokers, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others.

Being a realtor can enhance your credibility as a real estate agent, although membership is optional and costs approximately $185. In addition, you will have access to a variety of benefits, such as: • Business tools

• Real estate market statistics, data, and research

• Educational prospects

• Discount programs are designed to help your business to be successful

Realtors have access to Realtors Property Resource (RPR), the largest online real estate database in the United States, which is comprised of public records and assessment data. It contains information on zoning, permits, mortgage and lien data, schools, and a sizable database of foreclosure listings.

Join a Property Brokerage

As a real estate agent, you work under the supervision of a state-licensed broker who oversees real estate transactions and ensures that you adhere to the necessary legal and ethical standards. In general, you will not receive an hourly wage. Instead, the brokerage will likely pay you a proportion of the commissions it earns from your real estate transactions.

Depending on your brokerage agreement, you may be required to pay desk fees, tech fees, business cards, marketing materials, and other business expenses. In addition, you will incur additional one-time and recurring costs, such as annual license renewal, continuing education, lockbox fees, and Multiple Listing Service memberships. Joining brokerage averages $25-$500 per month.

When deciding if a career in real estate is right for you, it is essential to factor in the costs, which can easily amount to several thousand dollars annually.

How Should I Promote Myself As A New Real Estate Agent?

Creating a marketing network and reaching out to friends and family can help you launch your career. Contact new home builders, other realtors, and even lenders, and use social media to create a profile for yourself in order to generate publicity for your new career.

What Is License Reciprocity and License Recognition?

License Reciprocity occurs when one state chooses to recognize another state's official real estate license, reducing the time and effort required to complete a multi-state transaction. The National Association of REALTORS has a tracking tool titled "Broker and Salesperson License Reciprocity and Portability" for broker and salesperson license reciprocity and portability.

What Does the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Realtors Require?

The Code of Ethics is divided into three major sections that outline specific guidelines for "Duties to Clients and Customers", "Duties to the Public", and "Duties to REALTORS".

The Bottom Line

Obtaining a real estate license requires time and money, but it can help secure a rewarding position in the real estate industry, and a career as a real estate agent can be flexible.

Although it is possible to work part-time as a real estate agent, most treat it as a full-time business, making themselves available to clients throughout the week and on the weekends.

You may also wish to consider the variety of available real estate designations and certifications, such as those specializing in mortgages, appraisals, residential property, retail property, commercial property, and property management. These designations can enhance your real estate career, marketability, and earning potential.

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