Do you want to become a real estate agent? A career in real estate is definitely an exciting proposition, as it comes with flexible hours and high-earning potential. But before you start your real estate licensing exam prep, chances are you have some questions.

How easy is it to become a realtor? How much money does a real estate salesperson actually make? What does it take to be successful? Here's what you need to know about how to become a successful real estate agent.

What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?

Real estate agent showing a family a house, closer in

A real estate agent is a licensed sales professional who works with clients to help them buy, sell, or rent real estate. This includes residential homes, commercial spaces like office buildings and warehouses, and land.

Often, a real estate agent works under the supervision of a real estate broker. Typically, brokers manage teams of real estate agents and facilitate contracts and real estate deals. Both buyers and sellers of real estate hire real estate agents. They are trained to guide their clients through the real estate transaction process, no matter which side of the deal they are on.

For buyers, a real estate agent will help scout available properties. They also help negotiate and close a deal. For sellers, a real estate agent will help market a property, price it properly, and find the buyer with the best offer.

General duties of a real estate agent include administrative work. These are things like scheduling appointments and showings, updating property listings, and drafting and delivering documents. Real estate agents also communicate with lenders, home inspectors, escrow companies, and appraisers.

Potential realtors should be ready to do a lot of research. Real estate agents stay current with the market and know the trends. They also perform real estate market analysis and search open listings to find the best properties for their clients.

A real estate agent is also a marketing professional. They must create and distribute marketing materials, manage their social media, keep their website updated, run advertising campaigns, and network with potential clients.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

Real Estate agent offer home ownership and life insurance to young couple.

If you've determined that real estate is the right career for you, the first thing to do is find out the license requirements in your state. You don't need a bachelor's degree, but some states do require a high school diploma or GED. There's also a minimum age requirement. In some states, the minimum age is 18, while in others it's 19.

Next, you'll need real estate education courses. Most states require a minimum number of education hours before taking the exam. There are a number of different ways to get your hours through an approved classroom or online course.

Various branches of national companies like RE/MAX and Coldwell Banker offer classes. Some will even reimburse you or give you a discount if you work for them after receiving your license.

After you get your required education hours, you'll need to take the state exam and pass it. Each state sets its own minimum score to pass. And, most will allow you to retake it if you don't pass the first time.

We should note that taking courses, pre-exams, and the licensing exam will cost you a few hundred dollars. The exact amount you will pay is determined by the state you get licensed in and the specific courses you take.

You've Got Your Real Estate License, Now What?

Couple with real-estate agent visiting house for sale

Once you pass your exam, the next thing you'll need to do is activate your license. You'll do this through your state's real estate commission's website, and it will cost you anywhere between $200 and $400.

There are also costs associated with memberships in the local multiple listing service (MLS). This is a must because the MLS system is how you list properties and distribute them to different websites and apps.

To become a full-fledged RealtorĀ®, you must be a member of the National Association of RealtorsĀ® (NAR). There are no exceptions. The benefits of a NAR membership include access to real estate market data, discounts on education courses, and transaction management services.

After taking all of those tests and paying all of that money, chances are you won't make a dime for at least six months to a year. This is something you need to be prepared for. Since real estate agents work on commission only, they don't get paid until they close a sale.

You have to establish yourself in real estate before you can start making any real money. You can do this by working for an experienced, licensed broker and joining a team with a top-producing agent so you can learn the ropes.

Because it takes a while to build a clientele and earn an income, many recommend starting out part-time and working a second job that has a guaranteed income.

How Much Money Do Real Estate Agents Really Make?

Real-estate agent presenting modern house

Becoming a successful real estate agent isn't easy. Industry experts claim that the vast majority of those who get their real estate license fail within the first five years. But there is the potential for a lucrative income.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real estate agents make an average of $45,610 per year. The top 10 percent of agents can earn more than $150K annually.

Oola's Takeaway

Real estate agent giving keys to apartment owner, buying selling property business. Close up of male hand taking house key from realtor. Mortgage for purchasing flat, getting access to own home

Having a successful real estate career is possible. But, it takes a lot of work, quite a bit of startup cash, and months without an income when you're getting started. Working in real estate part-time is a great way to break into the industry without going broke.

The hardest part of building a real estate business is developing clients. This will take time, and you must be prepared for that. If you want real estate to be a full-time career, expect some tight months financially while you are building your business.

With experience, networking, continued education, and market adaptability, there is definitely the potential for a six-figure income. Real estate is a great career. You just have to be ready for the twists and turns that come with not having a regular paycheck. Not to mention the ups and downs of the economy, interest rates, and individual real estate markets.

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