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Real Estate Sales Agents: Schools and Careers

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Real Estate Sales Agents - Career Information

Real Estate Sales Agents picture    Real Estate Sales Agents image

The buying or selling of a home or investment property can be one of the most significant events in a person's life. Both of these things are usually accomplished with the assistance of a Real Estate Agent. Agents are responsible for arranging sales of houses or other properties on behalf of the sellers and/or buyers. In order to do this well, agents need to interface closely with the client on issues such as the method of sale, presentation of the property, costs, and inspection times. They need to know the local market well enough to accurately estimate the current market price and suggest a reserve or minimum selling price. They then need to arrange for the optimal means of advertising the property. Once an agreement is reached, the agent is responsible for drawing up the legal papers and arranging financing and insurance.

Real estate agents have similar jobs as Real Estate Brokers and the duties often overlap. One of the principal distinctions is that brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Agents usually work with a broker, providing their services on a contract basis. In this type of arrangement, the agent is typically given access to the broker's resources which often includes office space. In return, the broker and agent share the commission earned from the agent's sale of the property.

Some real estate agents are specialists and concentrate on a particular facet of the profession. These include the following:

Real Estate Broker
  • Relocation Specialists: Their principal function is to assist individuals who are relocating to other geographic areas. In order to do this, specialists need to have extensive knowledge of schools and other neighborhood characteristics of the new area. They are often paid by employers who are relocating their employees.
  • Commercial Real Estate Agents: They focus specifically on the purchase or sale of commercial property. Their expertise includes knowledge of such things as available housing for employees of the relocating business, school facilities for their children, and the local availability of appropriate labor.
  • Leasing Agents: They are responsible for keeping commercial buildings fully occupied while obtaining the highest possible rental rates. This type of agent needs a thorough knowledge of local rental rates and of local rent control laws and laws which affect real estate development.

Responsibilities

Real estate agents provide assistance to individuals or families who want to buy a house or sell one. When the client is a buyer, the agent will first meet with the client to find out what kind of house the client wants and how much money he/she can afford to spend. The agent will then research homes for sale and take the buyer to see some. When the client is a seller, the real estate agent will help the client set the price for the house and will come up with strategies to most effectively advertise and present the home to potential buyers.

Real estate agents act as intermediaries in price negotiations and represent their client in discussions with the other party. In order to do their job properly, they need to maintain a thorough knowledge of the real estate market in their community. They also need to know their client well enough to be able to identify which neighborhoods will best fit his/her needs and budget. They need knowledge of local zoning laws and they also need to know the best sources of obtain financing. In many cases, the agent becomes directly involved in securing favorable financing from a lender. As part of the process, which can often be a long one, agents may meet numerous times with prospective buyers to discuss and visit available properties. Once a contract has been signed by the buyer and the seller, the real estate agent is responsible for ensuring that all special terms of the contract are met before the closing date and also that any legally-required or agreed-upon inspections (e.g., radon and termite inspections) occur. In addition, the agent must see to it that any agreed-upon repairs are made by the seller.

When representing sellers, agents typically arrange for title searches to verify ownership. When listing a property for sale, agents compare the listed property with similar properties that recently sold so that they can best determine a competitive market price for the property. Although acting as a representative of the seller, agents quite often assist in arrange favorable financing for the prospective buyer. Many times, this move represents the difference between success and failure in closing a sale.

Job Characteristics

Typically, real estate agents work more than 40 hours a week and their work often includes evening and weekend hours. Despite the long and irregular hours, most agents have the freedom to pretty much determine their own schedule. They are in most cases able to arrange their work so that they can have time off when they want or need it. Agents usually work out of an office but in some cases work out of their home. Much of their home/office time is spent either on the phone or on the computer, where they peruse the Internet to gather and collate information about properties. Most of their out-of-office time is spent on the road showing houses to customers, analyzing properties for sale, or meeting with prospective clients.

A career as a real estate agent can be rewarding in an emotional, and sometimes in a financial sense; however, it can also be challenging and frustrating. The job requires lots of preparation and a ton of patience. Dealing heavily with the public requires good agents to have other skills as well. A pleasant personality, a good appearance, maturity, trustworthiness, good judgment, and enthusiasm for the job are attributes needed to attract prospective customers in this highly competitive field. Successful agents are also detail-oriented, well organized, and have a good memory for names and faces.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USDL BLS) projects employment of real estate agents to grow about as fast as the average profession over the next several years. That having be said, it should be noted that job prospects for real estate agents are very sensitive to swings in the economy and most especially to interest rates. During periods of low economic activity and rising interest rates, the sale volume falls and so does the resulting demand for agents. The USDL BLS points out that relatively low interest rates along with a general perception that real estate usually is a good investment portend a positive outlook for sales of real estate. On the other hand, improvements in technology are now allowing prospective customers to perform their own searches for properties online by accessing real estate information available on the Internet. This development has lessened to some extent the need for agents or at the very least made their jobs harder.

The field is relatively easy to enter and is attractive because of its flexible working conditions; however, those starting out face competition from their better established and more experienced counterparts in obtaining listings and in closing sales. The main sources of earnings of real estate agents are commissions on sales. Commission rates vary according to the type of property, its value, and whether or not the agent works for a broker (in which case he/she will need to share the commission with the broker). Commissions may be divided among several agents and brokers. Earnings, particularly for beginners, are often irregular because sometimes weeks and even months go by without a sale.

Real Estate Agent Training, Certification, and Licensing

Every state requires agents to be at minimum high school graduates who have completed between 30 and 90 hours of classroom instruction. However, as real estate transactions have become more legally complex, many firms have turned to college graduates to fill positions. Literally hundreds of universities, colleges, and community colleges offer courses in real estate. Many offer associate's or bachelor's degrees in real estate; some offer graduate degrees. Additional courses in business administration, finance, statistics, economics, marketing, law, and accounting can be especially helpful.

Licensure is a requirement in all states and every state has its own licensing process; therefore it is imperative that an aspiring real estate agent take the time to research the requirements of the state in which he/she intends to practice. The best way to start is by contacting the state's real estate commission. While no two states have the same regulations for obtaining a license, the requirements usually include an educational component as well as the ability to pass some sort of exam. Subject matter covered by the licensing exams varies by state but generally includes questions relating to national and state-specific laws and regulations affecting the sale of property. Some states also require sponsorship by a licensed real estate broker and/or a specific amount of experience selling real estate. Once a license is obtained, some states require annual renewal with proof of continuing education credits.

For those starting out, a good approach is to seek out and join the local real estate agents' association. Agents who are active in local real estate associations can broaden their contacts and increase their earnings. There are also national associations, most notably the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which boasts over one million members and provides continuing education courses, an annual requirement for maintaining a license in some states.

Resources

Major Employers

The large majority of real estate agents are self-employed. Most of them, however, work on a commission or fee basis for local or nationally known brokerage firms. Many agents work part time, combining their real estate activities with other careers. Although real estate is sold everywhere, real estate agent jobs tend to be concentrated in large urban areas and in rapidly growing communities.

Schools for Real Estate Sales Agents are listed in the column to the left.

The Top Cities tab shows employment statistics for Real Estate Sales Agents by major metro area.

The Top Industries tab shows which industries have the most jobs for Real Estate Sales Agents, along with salary data by industry.

The Find Schools tab lets you search for schools by field of study, degree level, and location.

  • Overview
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Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Real Estate Sales Agents

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Real Estate Sales Agents relative to the population of the city, as of 2008. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Relative Popularity of 1.0 means that the city has an average number of the particular job, for its population, compared to the rest of the US. Higher numbers mean proportionally more jobs of that type.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Metro Area Jobs Salary
(2013)
Relative
Popularity

Alabama

     
Birmingham 470 $47760 0.82
Hoover 470 $47760 0.82
Dothan 0 $66800
Huntsville 160 $60870 0.68
Mobile 160 $56400 0.81
Montgomery 90 $78560 0.49
Tuscaloosa 100 $31660 0.91

Alaska

     
Anchorage 100 $69900 0.48

Arizona

     
Lake Havasu City 0 $30620
Kingman 0 $30620
Phoenix 2810 $29930 1.32
Mesa 2810 $29930 1.32
Glendale 2810 $29930 1.32
Prescott 40 $19100 0.67
Tucson 0 $28990
Yuma 30 $56980 0.48

Arkansas

     
Hot Springs 60 $26460 1.57
Jonesboro 60 $33270 0.95
Little Rock 300 $35130 0.75
North Little Rock 300 $35130 0.75
Conway 300 $35130 0.75

California

     
Bakersfield 110 $ 0.31
Delano 110 $ 0.31
Chico 50 $35090 0.55
Fresno 230 $53830 0.58
Los Angeles 6740 $50680 1.04
Long Beach 6740 $50680 1.04
Santa Ana 6740 $50680 1.04
Modesto 70 $44220 0.37
Oxnard 100 $64170 0.28
Thousand Oaks 100 $64170 0.28
Ventura 100 $64170 0.28
Redding 50 $69140 0.7
Riverside 930 $56200 0.64
San Bernardino 930 $56200 0.64
Ontario 930 $56200 0.64
Sacramento 580 $59040 0.58
Arden 580 $59040 0.58
Arcade 580 $59040 0.58
Roseville 580 $59040 0.58
Salinas 50 $35980 0.29
San Diego 1660 $39840 1.08
Carlsbad 1660 $39840 1.08
San Marcos 1660 $39840 1.08
San Francisco 1870 $53200 0.76
Oakland 1870 $53200 0.76
Fremont 1870 $53200 0.76
San Jose 480 $54790 0.42
Sunnyvale 480 $54790 0.42
Santa Clara 480 $54790 0.42
San Luis Obispo 50 $70060 0.38
Paso Robles 50 $70060 0.38
Santa Barbara 70 $55390 0.36
Santa Maria 70 $55390 0.36
Goleta 70 $55390 0.36
Santa Cruz 0 $41930
Watsonville 0 $41930
Santa Rosa 70 $50620 0.34
Petaluma 70 $50620 0.34
Vallejo 0 $46360
Fairfield 0 $46360
Visalia 30 $66670 0.19
Porterville 30 $66670 0.19
Yuba City 140 $38560 3.24
Stockton 120 $69050 0.5

Colorado

     
Boulder 310 $48210 1.57
Colorado Springs 490 $42520 1.66
Denver 1450 $63300 0.94
Aurora 1450 $63300 0.94
Broomfield 1450 $63300 0.94
Fort Collins 190 $34000 1.18
Loveland 190 $34000 1.18
Grand Junction 120 $ 1.78
Greeley 80 $ 0.76

Connecticut

     
Bridgeport 130 $59430 0.27
Stamford 130 $59430 0.27
Norwalk 130 $59430 0.27
Hartford 260 $47680 0.39
West Hartford 260 $47680 0.39
East Hartford 260 $47680 0.39
New Haven 140 $47120 0.45

Delaware

     
Dover 80 $34010 1.15

Florida

     
Cape Coral 930 $38090 3.57
Fort Myers 930 $38090 3.57
Crestview 290 $28280 3.29
Fort Walton Beach 290 $28280 3.29
Destin 290 $28280 3.29
Deltona 650 $24540 3.56
Daytona Beach 650 $24540 3.56
Ormond Beach 650 $24540 3.56
Gainesville 230 $28200 1.59
Jacksonville 1340 $29270 1.91
Lakeland 360 $27180 1.56
Winter Haven 360 $27180 1.56
Miami 8390 $35040 3.06
Fort Lauderdale 8390 $35040 3.06
Pompano Beach 8390 $35040 3.06
Naples 740 $37630 5.06
Marco Island 740 $37630 5.06
North Port 970 $30570 3.21
Bradenton 970 $30570 3.21
Sarasota 970 $30570 3.21
Ocala 190 $25270 1.78
Orlando 4850 $33360 3.85
Kissimmee 4850 $33360 3.85
Sanford 4850 $33360 3.85
Palm Bay 260 $33480 1.14
Melbourne 260 $33480 1.14
Titusville 260 $33480 1.14
Palm Coast 100 $26980 4.3
Panama City 290 $31330 3.47
Lynn Haven 290 $31330 3.47
Panama City Beach 290 $31330 3.47
Pensacola 260 $28950 1.4
Ferry Pass 260 $28950 1.4
Brent 260 $28950 1.4
Port St. Lucie 340 $28410 2.27
Punta Gorda 100 $28360 2.12
Sebastian 140 $ 2.54
Vero Beach 140 $ 2.54
Tallahassee 370 $34110 1.98
Tampa 2840 $32150 2.06
St. Petersburg 2840 $32150 2.06
Clearwater 2840 $32150 2.06

Georgia

     
Albany 0 $47510
Athens 270 $29250 2.92
Clarke County 270 $29250 2.92
Atlanta 5900 $36980 2.12
Sandy Springs 5900 $36980 2.12
Marietta 5900 $36980 2.12
Brunswick 80 $32340 1.8
Dalton 0 $27790
Gainesville 120 $19210 1.32
Hinesville 40 $28630 2.35
Fort Stewart 40 $28630 2.35
Macon 90 $29440 0.82
Savannah 240 $40140 1.32
Valdosta 90 $36770 1.61
Warner Robins 70 $26150 1.1

Hawaii

     
Honolulu 200 $57440 0.38

Idaho

     
Boise City 560 $26290 1.72
Nampa 560 $26290 1.72
Coeur d'Alene 40 $31180 0.65
Idaho Falls 60 $31770 1.1

Illinois

     
Champaign 120 $33560 1.1
Urbana 120 $33560 1.1
Peoria 30 $37790 0.15
Rockford 50 $ 0.32
Springfield 40 $ 0.28

Indiana

     
Bloomington 0 $19420
Fort Wayne 120 $28880 0.49
Indianapolis 710 $105370 0.65
Carmel 710 $105370 0.65
Lafayette 110 $26440 1.07
Terre Haute 60 $26930 0.82

Iowa

     
Ames 60 $28210 1.16
Cedar Rapids 90 $56060 0.56
Des Moines 380 $35920 0.95
West Des Moines 380 $35920 0.95
Waterloo 50 $50550 0.48
Cedar Falls 50 $50550 0.48

Kansas

     
Topeka 0 $27770
Wichita 140 $24320 0.42

Kentucky

     
Bowling Green 0 $34930
Elizabethtown 60 $23770 1.07
Lexington 360 $32370 1.19
Fayette 360 $32370 1.19

Louisiana

     
Alexandria 50 $25780 0.76
Baton Rouge 130 $32740 0.28
Lafayette 100 $32050 0.53
Lake Charles 50 $30190 0.44
Monroe 40 $28320 0.42
New Orleans 410 $39400 0.66
Metairie 410 $39400 0.66
Kenner 410 $39400 0.66
Shreveport 120 $34550 0.59
Bossier City 120 $34550 0.59

Maine

     
Portland 100 $38490 0.41
South Portland 100 $38490 0.41
Biddeford 100 $38490 0.41

Maryland

     
Baltimore 1660 $38020 1.1
Towson 1660 $38020 1.1

Massachusetts

     
Barnstable Town 140 $64790 1.2

Michigan

     
Ann Arbor 150 $33970 0.62
Detroit 1420 $39220 0.65
Warren 1420 $39220 0.65
Livonia 1420 $39220 0.65
Flint 90 $67140 0.54
Grand Rapids 230 $45990 0.48
Wyoming 230 $45990 0.48
Holland 40 $35050 0.33
Grand Haven 40 $35050 0.33
Kalamazoo 130 $34070 0.86
Portage 130 $34070 0.86
Lansing 160 $28020 0.67
East Lansing 160 $28020 0.67
Niles 0 $39590
Benton Harbor 0 $39590

Minnesota

     
St. Cloud 40 $35690 0.32

Mississippi

     
Gulfport 50 $30930 0.45
Biloxi 50 $30930 0.45
Hattiesburg 80 $37110 1.29
Jackson 340 $24510 1.17
Pascagoula 60 $33290 0.97

Missouri

     
Columbia 70 $32610 0.7
Springfield 120 $58270 0.53

Montana

     
Billings 80 $57140 0.87
Missoula 50 $62050 0.73

Nebraska

     
Lincoln 80 $29690 0.41

Nevada

     
Carson City 40 $47960 1.35
Las Vegas 1460 $55360 1.44
Paradise 1460 $55360 1.44
Reno 100 $52250 0.41
Sparks 100 $52250 0.41

New Jersey

     
Atlantic City 70 $36310 0.44
Hammonton 70 $36310 0.44
Ocean City 40 $58400 0.96
Trenton 170 $45460 0.64
Ewing 170 $45460 0.64

New Mexico

     
Albuquerque 370 $38860 0.85
Santa Fe 80 $ 1.09

New York

     
Albany 190 $79720 0.38
Schenectady 190 $79720 0.38
Troy 190 $79720 0.38
Binghamton 60 $34970 0.51
Buffalo 250 $46260 0.4
Niagara Falls 250 $46260 0.4
Ithaca 30 $55300 0.58
Kingston 0 $58680
Poughkeepsie 190 $78740 0.67
Newburgh 190 $78740 0.67
Middletown 190 $78740 0.67
Rochester 320 $56330 0.55
Syracuse 190 $ 0.53

North Carolina

     
Asheville 120 $50810 0.57
Burlington 40 $ 0.55
Durham 190 $56910 0.59
Chapel Hill 190 $56910 0.59
Fayetteville 150 $34160 1.01
Greensboro 420 $38540 1.03
High Point 420 $38540 1.03
Greenville 70 $ 0.81
Jacksonville 0 $52720
Raleigh 870 $51660 1.37
Cary 870 $51660 1.37
Rocky Mount 40 $42790 0.56
Wilmington 300 $59490 1.78
Winston 90 $ 0.37
Salem 90 $ 0.37

North Dakota

     
Bismarck 110 $46820 1.39

Ohio

     
Canton 0 $29960
Massillon 0 $29960
Cleveland 1330 $30950 1.12
Elyria 1330 $30950 1.12
Mentor 1330 $30950 1.12
Columbus 1270 $30440 1.13
Dayton 380 $29510 0.89
Akron 180 $34210 0.49
Toledo 260 $32300 0.73

Oklahoma

     
Lawton 70 $33240 1.43
Oklahoma City 1400 $40910 2
Tulsa 1030 $50410 2.07

Oregon

     
Bend 0 $47920
Eugene 0 $51120
Springfield 0 $51120
Salem 60 $50170 0.36

Pennsylvania

     
Erie 110 $38360 0.76
Harrisburg 330 $43760 0.9
Carlisle 330 $43760 0.9
Lancaster 280 $38790 1.07
Lebanon 30 $47250 0.59
Pittsburgh 1650 $53460 1.25
Reading 110 $42750 0.58
Scranton 90 $37650 0.31
Wilkes 90 $37650 0.31
Barre 90 $37650 0.31
York 130 $38940 0.63
Hanover 130 $38940 0.63
State College 130 $38000 1.72

Puerto Rico

     
San Juan 300 $27940 0.36
Caguas 300 $27940 0.36
Guaynabo 300 $27940 0.36

South Carolina

     
Anderson 60 $29100 0.81
Charleston 860 $29740 2.38
North Charleston 860 $29740 2.38
Summerville 860 $29740 2.38
Columbia 590 $34000 1.43
Florence 80 $30700 0.83
Greenville 410 $39800 1.14
Mauldin 410 $39800 1.14
Easley 410 $39800 1.14
Myrtle Beach 760 $32680 5.61
North Myrtle Beach 760 $32680 5.61
Conway 760 $32680 5.61
Spartanburg 100 $29820 0.71

South Dakota

     
Rapid City 60 $45440 0.82
Sioux Falls 100 $66300 0.57

Tennessee

     
Johnson City 30 $40050 0.37
Knoxville 130 $29670 0.33
Nashville 700 $29820 0.73
Davidson 700 $29820 0.73
Murfreesboro 700 $29820 0.73
Franklin 700 $29820 0.73

Texas

     
Amarillo 60 $29180 0.48
Austin 1790 $56580 1.73
Round Rock 1790 $56580 1.73
San Marcos 1790 $56580 1.73
Brownsville 80 $29930 0.51
Harlingen 80 $29930 0.51
College Station 0 $45040
Bryan 0 $45040
Corpus Christi 120 $28280 0.57
Dallas 4810 $40580 1.3
Fort Worth 4810 $40580 1.3
Arlington 4810 $40580 1.3
El Paso 390 $30440 1.19
Houston 5700 $56390 1.72
Sugar Land 5700 $56390 1.72
Baytown 5700 $56390 1.72
Killeen 80 $30510 0.5
Temple 80 $30510 0.5
Fort Hood 80 $30510 0.5
Lubbock 220 $57500 1.41
McAllen 50 $46370 0.19
Edinburg 50 $46370 0.19
Mission 50 $46370 0.19
Midland 180 $ 1.79
Odessa 30 $67940 0.35
San Antonio 0 $48000
New Braunfels 0 $48000
Abilene 90 $72670 1.25
Tyler 60 $30100 0.52
Waco 70 $19300 0.6
Wichita Falls 0 $21770

Utah

     
Ogden 450 $36050 1.86
Clearfield 450 $36050 1.86
Provo 370 $39410 1.63
Orem 370 $39410 1.63
St. George 190 $47800 3.11
Salt Lake City 1220 $37230 1.57

Vermont

     
Burlington 120 $ 0.85
South Burlington 120 $ 0.85

Virginia

     
Blacksburg 130 $43140 1.79
Christiansburg 130 $43140 1.79
Radford 130 $43140 1.79
Charlottesville 210 $37000 1.79
Harrisonburg 140 $35090 1.95
Lynchburg 190 $27720 1.63
Richmond 1270 $45940 1.77
Roanoke 160 $48880 0.88

Washington

     
Bellingham 190 $41040 2.08
Bremerton 70 $30610 0.72
Silverdale 70 $30610 0.72
Kennewick 170 $38990 1.44
Pasco 170 $38990 1.44
Richland 170 $38990 1.44
Longview 40 $26670 0.89
Olympia 270 $52370 2.33
Seattle 3500 $35400 1.7
Tacoma 3500 $35400 1.7
Bellevue 3500 $35400 1.7
Spokane 370 $44810 1.56
Wenatchee 80 $43160 1.63
East Wenatchee 80 $43160 1.63
Yakima 70 $35480 0.69

Wisconsin

     
Appleton 0 $29110
Green Bay 80 $28710 0.4
Madison 230 $44100 0.57
Milwaukee 370 $35160 0.39
Waukesha 370 $35160 0.39
West Allis 370 $35160 0.39
  • Overview
  • Top Cities
  • Career Stories
  • Top Industries
  • Browse Schools
  • Overview
  • Top Cities
  • Career Stories
  • Top Industries
  • Browse Schools

Most Popular Industries (as of 2008) for:
Real Estate Sales Agents

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Industry Jobs Percent Salary
(2008)
Real Estate 125,840 77% $37,720
Construction 13,220 8% $49,710
Government 4,690 2% $62,650
Civil Engineering 4,390 2% $44,570
Office Services And Staffing 3,290 2% $43,860
Professional And Technical Services 3,270 2% $45,780
Oil And Gas 2,030 1% $56,850
  • Overview
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Real Estate Agents Schools by State

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Real Estate Sales Agents.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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