Are you interested in becoming a real estate agent? You’re in good company. About 17,000 Americans use Google every month to learn “how to become a realty agent”, as they contemplate joining the 2 million licensed realtors in America.
- It takes approximately four to six months to become a licensed real estate agent, depending on your location. The process can be accelerated by taking online prelicensing courses.
- There are different requirements for each state. The general steps include taking a real estate course, passing the licensing exam and joining a brokerage.
- The title Realtor can only be used by real estate agents who have joined the National Association of Realtors. All Realtors must adhere to the strict Code of Ethics of NAR.
Why Become a Real Estate Agent?
There are many opportunities to work as a realty agent. You’ll be working with different clients and different houses every day. You have the opportunity to work with many people and be your boss.
It can also be very lucrative. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 data, the median annual salary for real estate agents is $51,220.3 Real estate brokers, who have additional education, testing and experience requirements, can earn $59,720. The top 10% of agents made more than $112,000. Others earn more.
Another benefit is the ease of getting into this field. You don’t have to be a college graduate to get your real estate license. It is relatively easy and inexpensive compared with other career options that offer similar earning potential.
Steps to Become a Real Estate Agent
You will need to invest money upfront and time to become a licensed real estate agent. The costs of these investments can vary depending on the location you are licensed. Although the requirements vary by state, this is a general overview of how you can become a real estate agent.
Step 1: Find out what your state requires
You cannot obtain a national license to be a real estate agent. Therefore, you will need to meet the licensing requirements of each state. Start your search by searching for “[your state]” on the internet. You can also visit the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials’ directory.
Each state has its own requirements.
- Education requirements (such as a high school diploma, GED)
- Prelicensing and post-licensing courses
- Exams and eligibility
- Application process and fees
- Fingerprinting and background checks.
- Continuing education
- How to get to the next level in licensing
- Report criminal history
You can obtain your license in one state, and then use it in another.
New York has, for instance, reciprocity with nine states. Some states only have reciprocity for brokers. Each state has its own procedure for obtaining a license via reciprocity, just like regular licensing requirements.
Step 2: Enrol in a Pre-licensing Program
You must complete a pre-licensing class at an accredited school of real estate licensing before you can sit for the realty license exam. Each state has its own requirements for hours. California requires applicants to take 3 classes in real estate, totaling 135 hours. The courses in New York and Georgia take 75 hours, while the courses in Florida only take 63 hours. You will need to complete 180 hours of coursework in Texas.
There are many ways to meet the requirements for prelicensing in most states. These include online courses, a brick-and-mortar real estate school, or classes at community colleges. It is possible to save time and money by choosing one type of class over another.
You should choose the best method for you and your learning style. When choosing a program, it is important to do your research. How prepared you are for the exam will depend on the quality of your instructors and the materials they provide.
Step 3: Pass the Licensing Exam
The instructor should tell you how to register and pay for your licensing exam. If not, please visit the website of your state’s realty commission. The computerized exam consists of two sections: one on general realty principles and practices and another section that covers the laws in your state. Multiple-choice exams are used. The number of questions and the time allotted to each state for each exam will vary.
Each section is scored individually and each section must be passed. You can retake the exam if you fail any one of the sections. Each state has its own rules about how many times you can retake an examination, how long between exams and when you have to complete any retakes.
Step 4: Activate Your Real Estate Agent License
Once you have passed the exam, you can submit your application along with any documents or fees to your state’s regulatory agency for real estate.
Once your application has been approved, the state will mail you your real estate license certificate. Your name will also be available under the licensee’s section of the website. Remember that your license will not be valid until the state issues it.
Step 5: Think about becoming a realtor
Although many people mistakenly use the terms Realtor and real estate agent interchangeably, they are two different things.
Both are licensed to assist buyers and sellers in the real estate transaction process. However, both Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and adhere to its strict Code of Ethics.
The National Association of Realtors (USA) is the largest trade association. It represents 1.3 million members, who are brokers, agents, property managers, appraisers and counselors in the residential and commercial realty industries.
Although membership is not mandatory, being a Realtor will increase your credibility as an agent. You’ll have access to many benefits as a Realtor.
- Tools for business
- Research and statistics on the real estate market
- Opportunities for education
- Promotions that will help you succeed in your business
Realtors have access, for example, to Realtors Property Resource (RPR), which is the largest online database of real estate in the United States. It was built from assessment and public records. It contains information about zoning, permits and mortgage data.
Step 6: Join a Real Estate Brokerage
You work as a real-estate agent under the supervision of a licensed broker. This broker is licensed by the state and can oversee all real estate transactions. He or she will also ensure that you and other agents adhere to the legal and ethical guidelines. You won’t be paid an hourly wage. The brokerage will pay you a portion of the commissions it receives from your real estate transactions.
You may need to pay desk fees, tech fees (e.g. for your website), marketing materials, business cards, and other costs depending on your arrangement with your brokerage. Other ongoing and one-time expenses include renewing your license every year, continuing education and lockbox fees.
Real estate can be expensive. It is worth considering how much you will need to cover them in your budget before you decide if it is the right career for yourself.
The bottom line
While obtaining a real estate license can take time and money, it can lead to a fulfilling career in the real estate industry. A career as a real estate agent can be as flexible or as rigid as you wish. You can work only three days per week, or you can limit your hours. This will limit your success.
Although you can work part-time as a realty agent, the most successful ones treat it like a full-time job, being available for clients every day of the week.
You may decide to obtain your broker license for greater flexibility and job opportunities. There are many real estate certifications and designations that you may be interested in, such as those for mortgages, appraisals or property management. These designations will help you to be more marketable as a real-estate professional and can increase your earning potential.