Buying or selling a home, or any type of real estate, can be made easier when a real estate agent is involved. Not only do they have training in the field, but they also know the ins and outs of the market. Additionally, real estate agents can find variability on the job. They may choose to represent a buyer or a seller, be involved in various types of negotiations, look for certain types of property or help a client close a desirable deal.
The also is room for specialization, such as in residential or commercial properties or even foreclosures. Agents may be interested in buying or selling, working with a certain type of clientele, or even in becoming a broker, who can hire agents to work for him or her. There are many types of real estate training programs available at the postsecondary level and through real estate companies to help individuals make a start.
Responsibilities of Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents need to be able to listen effectively and communicate well to understand a client's specific needs, such as the type of property they are looking for and their price points. In general, they should know how to:
- Research types of properties for sale and for rent
- Help clients find the type of property they seek at a desired price
- Advise clients on market conditions and other aspects of home buying or selling
- Help a client negotiate price, if necessary
- Take renters and buyers to see apartments, homes and other types of residences
- Network to build a strong client base
Commercial real estate agents focus on the purchase or sale of commercial properties, but often have to invest more time than a residential agent to complete a sale.
Leasing agents keep buildings occupied and obtain desired rental rates. They should be familiar with local rent control law.
Relocation specialists assist people who are moving to other geographic areas, and need to have good knowledge about an area's attributes.
Brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate business and may hire their own agents.
Real Estate Agent Job Characteristics
Real estate agents can work more than 40 hours a week, including on evenings and weekends. On the job, they may find that:
- Much of their home/office time is spent on the phone or on the computer, where they gather and collect information about various properties.
- They may need to spend substantial time out of the office, showing houses to customers, analyzing properties for sale, or meeting with prospective clients.
- They experience stress on the job due to long hours, difficult clients and/or competition.
- The career can be demanding, but they may be able to make their own schedules or work part-time as an agent in conjunction with other work.
Traits that can make a good real estate agent include:
- Good judgment
- Enthusiasm for the job
- A 'people' type of personality
- A willingness to network
- A tendency to be detail oriented and well-organized
Employment Outlook in Real Estate
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following information regarding real estate sales agents nationwide:
- Total Employed: 157,660 in 2014
- Job Growth: 11% growth, from 2012 to 2022
- Average Salary: $55,530 in 2014
At the economy continues to improve, demand for agents and brokers also may increase, according to the BLS.
Real Estate Agent Training, Certification and Licensing
A high school diploma is typically needed to become a real estate agent. Individuals can obtain real estate training through online programs, courses taught at community colleges, or even other routes. Completing a state-accredited program can be important to seeking licensing later on.
Certification is available to agents through organizations like the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Some of the NAR certifications include: Certified Real Estate Broker Manager (CRB), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Certified Real Estate Team Specialist (CRETS), and others. Certification is not necessary, but may be beneficial to the job.
Licensing is required in all 50 states. To become licensed, an individual typically needs to complete specific coursework and pass a licensing exam. Passing a background check also can be a requirement. Often, licenses need to be renewed every two to four years with continuing education being an important component. More licensing details can be found through a state's real estate licensing commission.
Major Real Estate Employers
- Leasing offices
- Brokerage offices
- Other types of real estate firms
Resources for Real Estate Agents
- The National Association of Realtors (NAR)
- The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB)
- The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents
- The National Association of Independent Real Estate Brokers
- Designations and Certifications, National Association of Realtors. http://www.realtor.org/designations-and-certifications
- Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/real-estate-brokers-and-sales-agents.htm#tab-6
- Real Estate Sales Agents, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes419022.htm