So, you’ve decided you want to be a real estate agent. But even if you’re already a skilled salesperson who knows the ins and outs of managing relationships with clients, knowing how to become a real estate agent is a different story. Fear not, though — we’re here to help you turn this dream job into a reality. Follow this guide and you’ll be well on your way to becoming the successful real estate agent you want to be.
Really Make Sure It's Right for You
Is a real estate career what you want? You have to make sure this is absolutely the right path for you before you get started on figuring out how to become a real estate agent. You may think this is what you want to do, but make sure you do your research on the pros and cons of the job, what it takes to get a real estate license, and the real estate industry in general. Real estate school can be expensive—often costing several hundred dollars—and you'll need to shell out another for the licensing exam, too. It’s not worth investing a lot of time and money if becoming a real estate professional ends up being something you aren’t going to be happy with. Talk to a practicing, licensed real estate agent and get all the details about what it looks like to have a career in real estate.
Determine Your State’s Licensing Requirements
Every state has different licensing requirements to become a practicing real estate professional with a real estate license. For example, most states require you to be at least 18 and have a high school diploma or G.E.D before you can become a licensed real estate agent. But some states have much stricter education requirements than others. Rhode Island requires only 45 hours of pre-license credits, while Tennessee requires 60 hours, Louisiana requires 90 hours, and Texas requires a full 210 hours.
Researching the real estate licensing requirements in your state gives you an idea of how long you’ll be taking classes before you can take your state’s real estate exam. Some states also require a background check, and you may not be able to become a real estate agent at all if you’ve committed a crime.
Check out Your Pre-licensing Course Options
Real estate school or prelicensing courses can come in a number of formats, and you almost always have to pay a fee to attend a pre-licensing course. States like Wisconsin have classes that are fully online and have options to view all materials online as well.
Other states may require university courses or a four-year degree. Some real estate firms have classes, but you may also be able to take classes at technical schools and real estate schools.
Choose a learning environment that’s going to be helpful and productive for you as you hone your skills as a salesperson. Be sure to research the school’s reputation, as well as the quality of its teachers. You don’t want your education to be taken less seriously because the school doesn’t have the best status.
Apply for the Real Estate Exam
The next step in getting your real estate license is to register for the real estate test! Make sure you know the application process for your state, so the timing fits well with when you finish your courses. The application and licensing exam will also require a fee.
Many states require the application process to be complete before you can take the licensing exam. If your state requires fingerprints and a background check, those can take weeks — or even months — to process. Make sure you’re keeping the date of the exam in mind so all the paperwork is finished and doesn’t delay your chance to take the exam.
Choose a Brokerage
You’re required to work with a real estate broker before you’re officially licensed as a real estate agent. This choice could make or break your ability to continue with the business, so it’s definitely something you’ll want to get right.
There are a lot of things to consider before you choose a firm. Think about the size of the firm you’d want to join and look into multiple firms to determine their reputation. If mentoring is important to you, find one that’s going to be great for you to learn from and will go above and beyond with your training.
Online research into the brokerage is always helpful, as well as any tips your instructor could give you. Ask if family or friends have had any experiences with anyone in the area. If you interview with a few companies, make sure they’re not the only ones asking questions. Ask a lot to make sure you really get a feel for what it’s like to work there and whether you’d be a good fit.
Set Aside Some Dough
One of the downsides of a career in real estate is that it can take a long time to start making money. There’s a chance you’ll go months without an income, so it’s important to have a decent amount saved up. Another option to consider is doing real estate part time, and working another job to guarantee you have enough money to pay the bills starting out. Some of that money does need to go into marketing your brand, but you also need to cover basic living expenses until you start getting your name out there.
It takes time to build up your brand and get recognized. Unless you have family or friends who are looking to buy a home and are going to go to you, you might not get much business at the outset.
It’s never too early to start building a network, and a successful real estate career relies on it. Family and friends are a good place to start, as they can refer people to you if they know of someone looking to buy or sell a home.
Another good way to start is by making sure you have a good mentor at the brokerage where you start out. They can help you learn the profession, connect you with people and split commission on sales. This way you’re earning some money, while also expanding your network of connections.
Use the Internet
Social media is pretty much a necessity for successful real estate agents these days. To start out, decide which sites will be most beneficial to you. Each social network has a different target audience. You won’t have time to maintain a presence on every platform, so you have to figure out which ones capture the niche you’re looking for.
You’ll also have to learn how to use the sites of your choice effectively to maximize their benefits. You don’t want to promote too much. Draw people in with related posts that will catch their interest. Pictures and videos are great for catching users’ eye. Consider live-streaming as well, maybe with a tour of a house you’re selling.
Consider the Benefits of Being a Realtor
In order to become a realtor, you have to join the National Association of Realtors. Becoming a member can give you a variety of benefits, one of which is being able to officially call yourself a realtor. This title gives you extra credibility.
Membership can also get you discounts on travel and automotive purchases, special pricing on certain technology and educational tools to help further your learning. Extra certifications and classes can give you a leg up on the competition.
Depending on your state, there may also be a state association of realtors you’ll have to join as well. The locality might even have an association, like for York and Adams counties in Pennsylvania. While these all come with fees, they all carry a host of benefits to outweigh the cost.
Becoming a real estate agent is a lot of work, but it can lead to an exceptionally rewarding career. If you think this is the job for you, get started right away to break into the real estate industry and make your dream job happen!
Sarah Landrum is an expert career blogger and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career and lifestyle blog helping professionals create a career they love and live a happy, healthy life. For more from Sarah, follow her on social media and subscribe to her newsletter.
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