Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell, or rent properties. Brokers and agents do the same type of work, but brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Sales agents must work with a broker.
Due to the complexity of buying or selling a home or commercial property, people often seek help from real estate brokers and sales agents. Although most real estate brokers and sales agents sell residential property, some sell commercial property, and a small number sell industrial, agricultural, or other types of real estate.
Brokers and agents can represent either the buyer or the seller in a transaction. On occasion, an agent may represent both parties, but this is unusual and can be a conflict of interest. Buyers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to understand needs and how much they can afford. Sellers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to help them decide on a selling price and to convince them that the agent or broker can find them a qualified buyer.
Approximately 60% of real estate brokers and sales agents were self-employed in 2010. Most of the remainder worked in the real estate industry through brokerage offices, leasing offices, and other real estate establishments. A broker or agent has some flexibility in working hours, making this a good position for part-time work, working mothers or retirees.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is expected to grow around 11% between 2010 and 2020 or about average. Median annual wages noted by the BLS were roughly $43,000 for real estate brokers and agents. Wages vary by geographic area and market conditions.
Real estate brokers and sales agents must be knowledgeable about the real estate market and sales trends in their area. To match properties to clients’ needs, they should be familiar with local communities, including knowledge of the crime rate and the proximity to schools and shopping. Brokers and agents also must stay current on financing options; government programs; types of available mortgages; and real estate, zoning, and fair housing laws.
Brokers and agents must know the rental market as well. In the current economic climate, more brokers and agents are working with landlords and tenants to rent properties instead of selling them. Brokers and agents should be familiar with Federal housing laws and state-specific low income housing needs and regulations.
Need to Have
In every state and the District of Columbia, real estate brokers and sales agents must be licensed. To become licensed, candidates must be high school graduates, be at least 18 years old, and complete a specified number of hours of real estate courses. Check with individual states for mandatory training requirements. No secondary education is required. In addition, sales agents must work with a broker.
Some states have additional requirements, such as passing a background check. In many cases, licenses are not transferrable state-to-state, but some states have reciprocity agreements and will accept licenses issued by other states. State licenses must be renewed every two to four years and continuing education requirements are sometimes required.
To obtain a broker’s license, individuals need a specific amount of experience as a licensed sales agent, usually 1 to 3 years. They must also take additional formal classroom training. In some states, a bachelor’s degree may be substituted in place of some experience or training requirements.
A newer computer, high-speed – and reliable – Internet connection, printer, scanner, fax, and a separate business phone line. Multiple monitors for client and agent meetings are often desirable. An office software suite with word processing and spreadsheet programs is desirable, and advisors may use a database or client relationship software. A personal accounting package for billing and invoicing is appropriate for any home business. Reliable backup and security solutions are strongly encouraged and recommended.
If the home is used for meeting with clients, a separate area should be designated for business. This area of the home must be clean, well-maintained, comfortable, and have adequate space for meeting with multiple people. Parking – on street or in driveway –should be available, and the office may be subject to federal or state American with Disabilities Act requirements.
Some brokers and agents can telecommute, but in most cases will spend much time away from the desk, meeting on location with buyers and sellers. While a flexible work arrangement is possible, many brokers and agents – especially beginners – will work more than a standard 40-hour workweek.
Many brokers have franchise agreements with national or regional real estate companies. Under this arrangement, the broker pays a fee to be affiliated with a widely known real estate organization: ReMax and Coldwell Banker are examples. Many real estate associations offer courses and professional development programs for both beginners and experienced agents. These courses cover a variety of topics, such as real estate fundamentals, real estate law, and mortgage financing.
Professional service and word-of-mouth are the best form of marketing for brokers and agents. Many independent agents have websites or blogs. Some distribute monthly or quarterly digital newsletters with real estate and related information to former and potential clients. Brokers and agents may also register with chambers-of-commerce or teach real estate classes at community colleges.
The real estate market grows as the population increases. People need a place to live, whether to rent or buy. Continuous changes in available mortgage options and products, and demographic changes create numerous opportunities. An agent or broker that speaks more than one language is very useful and can market to specific segments of the population.
By Dion D. Shaw
Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs
Homepreneurs. New Day. New Opportunity.
Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed. Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions. Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.
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