How to Be a Real Estate Agent

By Eric Hammer

So, you want to be a real estate agent, huh? Becoming a real estate agent isn't particularly difficult (each state has their own rules about it, however as rule, you'll need to take some courses and apply for a license) however it can be tricky to get the work and make the sales. Here's what you need to know:

A real estate agent has a kind of delicate balancing act. You are the go between working with both the buyer and the seller to try to close a deal and you have good reasons for wanting to make both of them happy. The seller is the one paying for your fee and allowing you to earn an income from your job.

However, those who want to be a real estate agent (and we mean a successful real estate agent) also have to work with the buyers and keep them happy. As a real estate agent, your name could become mud if you steer a potential buyer to the wrong property for their needs. Now while you may wonder why you should care, after all, the buyer isn't paying your commission, the reality is that the buyer is as much your customer as is the seller.

As a real estate agent, your income depends on buyers trusting you to steer them to the right property and help them find the home of their dreams. If you don't, even if you manage to make a sale, the buyer who ended up with the bad deal will remember you and tell his friends that you are not trustworthy. Ultimately, this will mean that neither buyers nor sellers will bother to talk to you. So, you end up on a tightrope, balancing the desires of the seller and the buyer.

How Much Can You Make?

According to, the average salary for a real estate agent ranges from as little s $31,028 per year to as much as $77,132 per year. The thing to remember however is that even if you work for a company rather than on your own, your salary is often dependent on your ability to make sales since you will often be paid either a small base plus a percentage of commission or you will work exclusively on commission.

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Remember that if you want to be a real estate agent, you need to be friendly and willing to talk to anyone. You have to also be a good listener, helping people to actualize their dreams while at the same time helping them to be realistic about what they can afford so that they understand what's out there.

Those interested in becoming a real estate agent also often end up working in house flipping on the side, buying a house which has been foreclosed upon or which is going for less than it should be going for, fixing it up a bit in their spare time and reselling it to someone else a short time later for a profit.

Qualifications / Requirements

In most states, you'll need to take some courses in order to be a real estate agent. Each state has their own individual requirements; however the courses typically range from a few months to as much as a year. Once you finish the course, you'll have to take an exam in order to become officially licensed. A handful of states allow you to simply sit for the exam without taking courses, though you may find the courses helpful anyway if you want to make sure you can pass the test and understand what this business is all about.

First Steps

Start by going to some open houses in your neighborhood. Get to know some of the local real estate agents and watch what they do. Once you are confident you understand the business, contact the state licensing board to find out the requirements for your state and get licensed. Then, look for a job as a junior associate with an existing real estate agency. While you certainly can be a real estate agent who is independent, it pays to start off by working with someone else in order to gain more experience and confidence in this business.


Check out these helpful resources to learn more about how to be a real estate agent:

Mortgage News Daily: Real Estate Licensing - A good guide to the business of becoming a real estate agent which focuses on licensing requirements in the 50 states.

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