Real estate agents help individuals make one of the most important investments of their life. In addition to helping them buy and sell homes and other properties, real estate agents demonstrate vast knowledge of the real estate market in a specific locale, including zoning and tax laws and loan programs.
Agents guide clients through the entire process of buying and selling property, essentially acting as an intermediary in negotiations between the buyer and seller. Many real estate agents work for real estate brokers who pay the agents a percentage of the selling price of the property. Some agents also work independently. Although a majority of agents sell residential property, some do specialize in the sale and purchase of commercial property.
Real estate agents are required to be at least 18 years of age and high school graduates. However, many employers give priority to applicants with college degrees and coursework in finance, real estate, business administration, statistics, economics, and law. Many firms also provide on-the-job training for new hires.
In addition to age and education requirements, all real estate agents must be licensed to practice. Licensure programs typically involve a combination of classroom instruction and written exams. Although State licenses usually require renewal every two years, the procedure is simple and does not include sitting for an exam.
In addition to meeting with clients and prospective buyers, agents spend substantial time searching property databases and seeking out property listings. Once the property sells, both the agent who aided in the sale of the property and the agent who listed the property receive commission on the sale.
Overall, real estate agents are the driving force behind the transaction, ensuring that each party upholds the agreement with regard to financing, inspections, repairs, and other contractual terms.
Real estate agents typically perform all or some of the following tasks:
Real estate agents sometimes work long hours, including nights and weekends, to accommodate their clients. However, the nature of the job often allows agents to work from home and set their own hours, giving them great flexibility.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for real estate agents is expected to increase by 14% through the year 2018, which is faster than the national average for all industries.
In a May 2008 government report put out by the Department of Labor, the average salary for a real estate agent was just above $40,000, with the median salary ranging from $27,400 to $64,800.