Real estate sales agents and brokers help their clients buy and sell homes. They are responsible for helping sellers determine listing prices and buyers determine offer prices. They help sellers prepare or “stage” their homes before putting them on the market, and are also responsible for marketing the homes of their clients, as well as showing them to prospective buyers. Real estate agents also help sellers navigate the purchase process, from making an offer to securing a mortgage lender. While some agents and brokers specialize in either clients who are selling or clients who are buying, many represent both buyers and sellers. Some real estate sales personnel work for realty firms, while others are self-employed.
Real estate agents must have a high school diploma to enter the field. However, many agents are college graduates who have taken courses in finance, business administration, law, and real estate. In addition to real estate courses offered by colleges, universities, and community colleges, courses are frequently offered by local real estate agencies and associations that belong to the National Association of Realtors. Every state and the District of Columbia requires that real estate agents are licensed. In order be licensed, agents and brokers must do a certain amount of classroom time, and must pass a written exam. Licenses must be renewed every one or two years.
The work environment is fast-paced and varied, with agents and brokers dividing their time between an office, the homes of their clients, and the homes they are showing clients. Thanks to technological advances, many real estate brokers choose to work out of their own homes. The workweek is flexible but atypical, and many agents and brokers work weekends and nights.
In addition to understanding the ins and outs of realty, real estate agents must be personable sales people with excellent communication and listening skills. Knowledge of the area in which they are working is absolutely necessary.
The realty field is competitive, and while it’s not necessarily difficult to get a job in real estate, it is difficult to be successful among the other experienced, knowledgeable agents. Competition is dependent, to some degree, on the economy. When the economy is robust, and there are more homes on the market, the volume of sales and the number of agents and brokers needed to support those sales rises.