What it is like to Have a Real Estate Career

The most expensive purchase a family is apt to make is when they buy a home. Because of the complexity and the infrequency of the event, most people decide to use an agent with the knowledge, skill and experience to handle the stress and the details, whether they are buying or selling.

Real estate agents must have a thorough knowledge of the real estate market in their communities and learn which neighborhoods will best fit their clients’ needs and budgets. They learn about local zoning regulations, construction materials, environmental hazards and other manmade risks and nuisances. They eventually become skilled in advising their clients in price negotiations, and problem resolutions.

Initially agents spend time learning the practical applications of the business while they assemble a client base and spend time looking for buyers who want to see properties or property owners who want to sell their homes.

The process of convincing someone who might be interested is buying or selling property (a customer) into someone who is willing to sign an agreement for your services (a client) is called “Prospecting”.

Over time, the agent’s goal is to increase his or her skill, knowledge, experience, client base and reputation to the point where business is referred to him or her.

Most people prefer to list their properties with someone they know and trust which is why agents initially develop a “sphere of Influence” which is a list of people they know who would likely help them launch their business. These 50 to 200 people will be targeted for business leads via direct mail, e-mail, social networking, warm calls and face to face encounters. Your first listing is most likely to come from this list because these are the people who knew and had confidence in you from the past.

Agents usually find more buyer clients during the first few months because they are not as dependent on the agent’s real estate experience. They need you to help them locate suitable property, arrange the property tour and give them access.

Whether you are working with your first seller or buyer, your managing broker is there to guide you through the process of searching the MLS, selecting properties, making a presentation, putting together the paperwork and answering any questions you have along the way. Every other agent has been in your shoes and they are willing to help you stay on track as long as their own clients are taken care of.

Within six months to a year, most new agents develop the confidence to carry out a routine transaction that includes finding a client, explaining agency, navigating the MLS, doing a market analysis to determine a property’s value, preparing an offer, negotiating a contract, arranging inspections, and getting your client to closing.

If you represent the seller, you will learn to enter the listing into the MLS, prepare marketing materials, suggest ways to show the property in the best light, adjust pricing according to market indicators and agent feedback, and help the seller with negotiations and arrange for repairs before closing.

Agents may meet numerous times with prospective buyers to discuss and visit available properties. Agents identify and emphasize the most pertinent selling points. To a young family looking for a house, for example, they may emphasize the convenient floor plan, the area’s low crime rate, and the proximity to schools and shopping. To a potential investor, they may point out the tax advantages of owning a rental property and the ease of finding a renter. If bargaining over price becomes necessary, agents must follow their client’s instructions carefully and may have to present counteroffers to get the best possible price.

Once the buyer and seller have signed a contract, the real estate broker or agent must make sure that all special terms of the contract are met before the closing date. The agent must make sure that any legally mandated or agreed-upon inspections, such as termite and radon inspections, take place. In addition, if the seller agrees to any repairs, the broker or agent ensures they are made. Increasingly, brokers and agents are handling environmental problems as well, by making sure that the properties they sell meet environmental regulations. Loan officers, attorneys, or other people handle many details, but the agent must ensure that they are carried out.

Advances in technology and the ability to retrieve data about properties via the Internet allow many real estate agents to work out of their home as well as in a of real estate office. Even with this convenience, agents spend much of their time away from their desks—showing properties to customers, analyzing properties for sale, meeting with prospective clients, or researching the real estate market.

Agents often work more than a standard 40-hour week. They frequently have to work when it is convenient for their clients which means evenings and weekends. Although the hours are long and frequently irregular, most agents and brokers have the freedom to determine their own schedule. They can arrange their work so that they have time off when they want it.

In every State, real estate agents must be licensed. Prospective agents must be high school graduates, be at least 18 years old, and pass a written test. A large number of agents have college training. College courses in real estate, finance, business administration, statistics, economics, law, and English are helpful. More than 1,000 universities, colleges, and community colleges offer courses in real estate.

Most offer an associate or bachelor’s degree in real estate; some offer graduate degrees. Many local real estate associations that are members of the National Association of Realtors sponsor courses covering the fundamentals and legal aspects of the field. Our firm offers formal training programs for both beginners and experienced agents.

Well-trained, ambitious people who enjoy selling—particularly those with extensive social and business connections in their communities will have the best chance for success.