Real estate sales agents help clients buy, sell or rent residential or commercial properties. They assist sellers in assessing a fair market value and helping them find qualified buyers. They also discuss a client's budget and preferences in a house or business, before advising them on available properties.
Real estate agents must have knowledge of the market in their area, financing options, mortgage types and applicable housing laws.
Duties and responsibilities
- Interview clients to determine their budget and what type of property they are seeking
- Use online resources and own contacts to compile lists of properties that suit the client's needs
- Visit properties to assess quality, features and issues before showing to clients
- Accompany buyers to available properties, advising them on price, area and suitability
- Review plans for new construction with buyers, explaining available options and upgrades
- Answer client's queries about construction, financing, appraisals, inspections and other procedures
- Mediate negotiations between buyer and seller, typically representing one side's interests
- Arrange for formal inspection of property, assist buyers in negotiating for necessary repairs
- Evaluate mortgage options, including government programs, to advise buyers
- Review listings and trade journals, and attend conferences and association meetings for current market news
- Determine seller's asking price using area knowledge and price comparisons of similar properties
- Promote sale of home through advertisements, print and online listings, flyers and open houses
- Advise homeowners on necessary repairs, design and staging to attract more potential buyers
- Develop network of lawyers, mortgage lenders, inspectors and other contractors for client referral
- Coordinate with lenders, escrow and title companies and inspectors to ensure purchase terms are met
- Prepare legal documents, supervised by a broker, including closing statements, deeds and leases
- Oversee final property walkthrough, signing of documents and disbursement of funds at closings
- Advertise and contact property owners to offer sales services, and solicit referrals from former clients
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Nights and weekends occasionally
Real estate sales agents typically work full time, operating from a corporate or home office environment. You will spend a lot of time travelling to assess homes, show properties to buyers and meet new clients. Real estate sales agents can often set their own schedules but usually work evenings or weekends to accommodate clients.
Busy agents often put in more than 40 hours per week. You may spend those additional hours networking and attending community events to meet potential clients.
Some real estate sales agents take the job on part-time to supplement their income from another career.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
State-accredited pre-licensing courses
Real estate sales agents typically only need a high school diploma, although some larger firms may require an associate or bachelor's degree.
All sales agents must be licensed, which requires three to six months of specific coursework dictated by each state. Real estate pre-licensing programmes are available through community colleges, colleges and universities as well as some real estate associations.
Licences must be renewed every two to four years, and continuing education may be required. Check with your state's real estate licensing commission to verify the conditions of licensure.
You may receive on-the-job training with an experienced real estate sales agent. Some firms also offer classroom training.
A real estate sales agent must build a solid reputation for diligence, integrity and efficiency as well as profitable sales. The combination of successful work, good marketing and networking will help you build a large and lucrative customer base.
Membership in the National Association of Realtors (NAR) offers opportunities for additional education, extensive resources and industry contacts. Joining a local chapter as a new real estate sales agent can give you head start in your career.
After one to three years as an agent, depending on the state, you can apply to be licensed as a real estate broker. This allows you to start your own business, either alone or as supervisor of a team of sales agents.