Estate agents, also known as real estate brokers and sale agents, are the third parties involved in a transaction between a buyer and seller of a home. Estate agents are responsible for finding and presenting different properties that meet a client's needs and budget, and managing all of the paperwork of the sale. Estate agents typically receive a significant amount of on-the-job training, but can prepare for their career in real estate by completing a college degree and taking certification courses on their own.
- Skill level:
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Take college courses. While a college degree is not mandatory, most employers do prefer an estate agent to hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Courses and majors should focus on finance, business administration, real estate, economics, statistics and law.
Contact a local chapter of the National Assocation of Realtors (NAR). NAR sponsors a variety of courses that cover both the fundamentals of real estate, and laws and regulations in your specific market. You can take courses about property development and management, mortgage financing and other specialised courses at various locations throughout your city or town (see Resources below).
Get your general real estate license. Every state requires estate brokers and sales agents to be licensed before they can make a sale and close contracts. The general sales license requires completing between 30 and 90 hours of classroom instruction, and passing a written examination. You can also enrol in an online training program from sites such as RealtyU.com (see Resources below).
Participate in on-the-job training. If you've been hired for an entry-level position with an estate firm or real estate brokerage, you will need to accumulate as much work experience as possible before serving clients on your own. Many firms offer their own in-house training programs that will give you a chance to learn the computer and database systems, work on sample client projects and shadow an experienced estate agent for hands-on experience.
Apply for a broker's license. After accumulating between 60 to 90 hours of formal training and about 1 to 3 years of selling real estate, you can take the broker's license examination. A broker's license allows you to open your own firm or work as an independent contractor.
Tips and warnings
- Estate agents who take foreign language courses have the ability to offer bilingual or multilingual services to clients.
- Online real estate licensing opportunities are available, and allow you to complete courses on your own schedule.
- Some states waive the work experience requirements for a broker's license if you hold a bachelor's degree in real estate.
- Employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2016 (see Resources below).
- Successful estate agents know a lot about the communities they work in and must keep up with the latest listings and industry news.
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