Self-motivated. Hard-working. Loves to explore. The top real estate agents have all of these qualities along with a sense of adventure that they bring to their everyday work. If this sounds like you, real estate may be the ultimate career path for you.
As a real estate agent, you can enjoy the perks of working in a new place every day, learning more about your community, and helping people make one of the most important purchases of their lives. Whether you have wondered if real estate is your path or you are already starting your journey to become a real estate agent, you can learn more about this exciting field and what makes it a great career.
Pros and Cons of Being a Real Estate Agent
Go through this handy list of pros and cons to see what aspects of real estate appeal to you and find out if this is the career you’ve been searching for.
Real Estate Agent Pros
Flexible Scheduling: Real estate agents can make their own schedule. If an agent wants to take a few hours off in the afternoon, they can often arrange that without clearing with a supervisor. The ability to create their own schedule is one of the top perks of being a real estate agent.
High Earning Potential: Your income as a real estate agent is only limited by the amount of work you are willing to put into getting more sales. If you help a lot of clients buy and sell homes, your income will go up. If you work in the luxury real estate market, the sales prices of the homes you work with is often higher, resulting in higher income for you.
Working with People: Many real estate agents love to work with people. This is a big part of the job, whether it is getting to know new clients, meeting other real estate professionals at networking events, or making sure other real estate agents know you represent interested buyers.
Real Estate Agent Cons
Long Work Hours: Real estate agents often have to work evenings and weekends to be available for clients. They can set their own hours, but if they do not make time for clients, it can be hard for real estate agents to earn enough income to sustain themselves in the career.
Income is Variable: Because real estate agents often work on commission and their income is directly tied to their sales, they do not have a steady, monthly income amount. Some months will be higher than others. Having a larger reserve fund to cover your own expenses during the slow months can help alleviate the stress that comes with this type of pay structure.
Networking and Marketing Yourself: Some people love to network, while others avoid it. As a real estate agent, you have to get comfortable marketing yourself to other real estate professionals and potential clients. Joining a professional organization, such as the National Association of Realtors® can provide resources and training to make marketing easy.
Working as a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is licensed to act on behalf of clients to buy, sell, and rent real estate. Some agents specialize in residential real estate, such as homes and condos, while others work more with commercial properties, such as stores. To become a real estate agent, you need to know about the licensing requirements of your state.
There are two main licenses for professionals who work with clients to buy and sell properties:
Real Estate Sales Agent: This entry-level license allows you to represent clients in the purchase and sale of real estate properties. As a real estate sales agent, you must be affiliated with a supervising broker before you are able to start working as an agent.
Real Estate Broker: This experienced position requires a full broker’s license. As a broker, you can still represent clients during real estate transactions but are not required to affiliate with another professional. Some brokers choose to work for an established brokerage firm, while others go on to open their own company. Brokers can also have teams of real estate agents who work under them.
Daily Work of a Real Estate Agent
Every day is different for real estate agents, an aspect of the career that many people find is one of the biggest perks. While the day-to-day schedule of a real estate agent can be different each day, successful real estate agents always make sure that certain tasks are done.
Tasks for a real estate agent can include:
- Communicating with clients via email, phone, text message, or in-person
- Marketing themselves to new clients
- Researching the local real estate market
- Advising clients on sales and purchases prices based on their knowledge of the local real estate market
- Looking through for-sale property listings for properties their clients might be interested in purchasing
- Prepare purchase offers
- Coordinate with seller’s real estate agent to negotiate the purchase price and terms
- Coordinate with inspectors, appraisers, and repair teams during the home sale
Many of these tasks are done outside of normal working hours. This is especially true of networking and marketing work, both with other real estate professionals and with prospective clients. Because clients often have jobs and careers of their own, real estate agents meet with them when they are available during the evenings and weekends.
A real estate agent can work unusual or variable hours. Some agents choose to work part-time while others maintain a full-time workload. As you begin work as a real estate agent, you can consider how much time you want to spend building your career and how much income you would like to generate. More hours does not always mean higher income, but successful high-earning real estate agents often go the extra mile to make themselves available to clients.
Skills for Real Estate Agents
Success as a real estate agent is often based on the person’s motivation and hard work. There are a few specific skills that can help you work more effectively with clients and grow their business.
Many successful real estate agents have or develop the following skills.
- Good communicator
- Comfortable meeting new people
- Attention to detail
- Comfortable with technology
Professional organizations, such as the National Association of Realtors® provide training and resources for members to help them in their professional development. Becoming a Realtor® does require that members pay dues, but this cost can result in increased earnings and professional skills.
Tip:Talk to current real estate professionals about recommended books, courses, or other materials that helped them develop the key skills needed to be successful in the industry.
Real Estate Agent’s Work Environment
As a new real estate agent, you will be required to work under a licensed real estate broker. Agents can work as part of a large team or firm with multiple offices around the world. Others choose to work for smaller brokerage companies that specialize in one region or city. Finding the right fit with a broker is an important aspect of becoming a real estate agent.
While some of a real estate agent’s time is spent at a desk, mostly keeping up with client communication via email and doing property research, a big part of a real estate agent’s work is done outside of a traditional office environment. Agents work at showings, by touring neighborhoods, and at networking events. If you enjoy a non-traditional work environment, being a real estate agent is a great choice for you.
Real Estate Agent Statistics
The real estate industry varies from state to state and city to city. Some real estate markets have a lot of interested home buyers and sellers, while others do not have as many properties that need real estate agents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data about the career outlook of real estate agents overall.
Real Estate Agent Pay
In 2019, the national median income for real estate sales agents was $48,930. The highest-earning sales agents worked in construction, making a median income of $58,490. Those who worked in rentals and leasing made a median income of $45,540.
Real estate agents often work on commission. This means that they receive a small percentage of the sales price of each home that they help a client buy or sell. This amount is negotiated when a client agrees to work with a real estate agent and included again in the actual property purchase contract. A real estate agent’s income can fluctuate throughout the year, with higher earnings during the spring and summer months when people are more likely to move.
Income for a real estate agent also varies by location. Cities and states with higher home prices often result in higher incomes for real estate agents.
The states with the highest earning real estate agents in 2019 were:
- New York ($111,800 annually)
- Massachusetts ($84,180 annually)
- Connecticut ($79,780 annually)
- Alaska ($79,360 annually)
- Colorado ($76,850)
Real Estate Agent Job Growth
Every city has residents that are moving into the area or into new homes. Because of this constant demand, there is also always a need for reliable, hard-working real estate agents.
Nationally, job growth for real estate agents is expected to grow around 2% by 2029. This is slightly slower than that projected 4% growth overall. Real estate agent job growth depends on the growth of the economy. When the population does not have as much or as stable income, they are less likely to make a large purchase, such as a home.
Some cities, regions, and states are growing faster than others, resulting in more opportunities for job growth for real estate agents.
The states employing the highest number of real estate agents in 2019 were:
- Florida (19,240)
- Texas (16,380)
- California (9,750)
- Georgia (8,910)
- Virginia (8,810)
States with a lot of real estate agents often have an increased need from home buyers and sellers for the services and expertise a real estate agent can provide. They also have more competition, making it even more important for new agents to set themselves apart by working hard for their clients and building a strong reputation in their community.
Long-Term Career Prospects for Real Estate Agents
Becoming a real estate agent is an exciting first step on a new career path. What happens after you establish yourself as a new agent? Like most aspects of a career in real estate, the long-term path for real estate agents depends on your motivation, how much work you want to put into your career, and your overall goals.
Promotions for Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents who want to take on more leadership and responsibility often go on to work toward their real estate broker’s license. To become a real estate broker, most states require additional real estate education and two to four years of experience as a real estate sales agent.
Becoming a real estate broker is not necessarily a promotion, but it does mean that you will be able to work independently without supervision. You can choose to lead a team, providing guidance, expertise, and connections to real estate agents who work under you. This can mean additional income for you as the sponsoring broker.
Real Estate Entrepreneurs
Some real estate brokers go on to open their own brokerage company. This step into entrepreneurship can be very exciting and rewarding. While it is not required for brokers to go into business for themselves, becoming an entrepreneur can provide additional income opportunities.
If you choose to open a brokerage, you will need to take care of running your own business, including bookkeeping, marketing, hiring employees, and other business-related tasks. Some brokers choose to hire business managers or administrative assistants to help with the day-to-day operations of their business.
Becoming a Real Estate Agent
The path to becoming a real estate agent is different in each state, but all require a license, application, and exam.
Getting Your Real Estate License
The licensing process for real estate agents can take from two to six months. The longest part of getting your real estate license is completing your pre-licensing education requirements. Most states require between 63 and 180 hours of instruction from a real estate education provider.
Passing the Real Estate Exam
All states require that prospective real estate agents pass a state licensing exam. This can be a challenging step in the real estate licensing process. Focusing on your pre-licensing education classes and taking an exam prep course can set you up for success.
A Career as a Real Estate Agent
Becoming a real estate agent is a great career path for those who enjoy working with people, thrive with a flexible schedule that they can make, and love to get to know the ins and outs of their local community. Taking advantage of networking and marketing opportunities can result in income success as well. The long-term career options of becoming a broker or entrepreneur offer unlimited options for those ready to begin a career as a real estate agent.
Information on this page has been gathered by a multitude of sources and was most recently updated on February 2021.
Any Information on this site is not guaranteed or warranted to be correct, accurate, or up to date. StateRequirement and its members and affiliates are not responsible for any losses, monetary or otherwise. StateRequirement is not affiliated with any state, government, or licensing body. For more information, please contact your state's authority on insurance.
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