The booming real estate sector and the flexible nature of working hours have quickly made the real estate profession a highly coveted freelance career option.
A thriving real estate agent will enjoy not only the benefits of a booming business but also the satisfaction of being part of a person’s major achievement in life - buying a house.
Why become a Freelance Real Estate Agent?
The nature of the work allows you to work from home, which is especially helpful for people who have chronic health conditions or have to care for a sick family member.
The job allows you to spend more time with family and loved ones while providing autonomy of work. Therefore you will enjoy both job satisfaction and a good source of income.
Moreover, it is more rewarding to operate independently. You can open up your real estate business and work according to your strengths and principles.
Alternatively, you can choose to work for a private agency as a freelancer. Furthermore, with the advent of technology like cloud-based computer maintenance management system, you can stay connected to your employer’s company or manage your own business remotely.
These cloud-based solutions help you remain connected to your workforce and exchange large amounts of information quickly and effectively. This reduces downtime and allows you to deal with multiple deals efficiently.
Another perk is that it is much easier to enter the industry compared to other jobs with similar earnings.
Strictly speaking, you don’t need a college degree to become a real estate professional - making this a relatively cheaper option for those who are looking for careers without large student debts.
Real Estate Agent Pay Scale
According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the median annual pay of real estate agents is $48,690, while the real estate broker’s median pay is $58,210/year. Reputable agents earn much higher figures (think above $100k). However, these figures depend entirely on your capability and work ethic.
As you can see, there are plenty of perks and benefits of becoming a real estate professional. So, how would one become a real estate agent? We will now discuss 6 steps to becoming a real estate agent.
Step 1: Know the Requirements and Job Duties
Real estate license requirements vary between states and countries so be sure to research the requirements in your specific jurisdiction. You can start by looking up online for the real estate regulatory office of your state or get a little help from ARELLO’s regulatory agency directory.
However, most states typically have the following requirements:
Age and residency
Application process and fees
Background checks and fingerprinting
Education requirements (high school diploma or GED)
Exams and exam eligibility
Pe-licensing courses and post-licensing requirements
Process for achieving the next level of licensing
Reporting of any criminal history
Keep in mind that an MBA in Real Estate Management will be an advantage when it comes to clients.
As the course acquaints students with not only the fundamentals of property management and real estate but also legal aspects and other important aspects like general accounting, real estate appraisal, capital markets, organizational behavior, management decisions, real estate economics, etc. This makes real estate agents with an MBA more skilled professionals.
Alternatively, a diploma or certification course in Land acquisition and management, real estate deal structuring, society management, private and public partnership, contract safety management are viable options that you may look up further.
For a more hands-on or field experience, consider joining a real estate agency association such as the NAR (National Association of Realtors).
Step 2: Know and Acquire Real Estate Agent Skills
Real estate agents are essentially self-employed given their scope of work so a great deal of skill is required in order to run your “one-person business”. Dealing with clients at different stages of deals to meeting deadlines will require a lot of determination and patience.
Though courses teach these skills, there is no better teacher than time and experience. A little bit of sharp-wit can also go a long way to make the job easier.
Good communication is the base of any successful real estate agent. As an agent, you will have to deal with a variety of clients with an individual set of needs. Being able to understand and convey these needs will lead to more successful deals and build a better reputation for the agent in the future.
As you will be working independently, it is important to be motivated to remain up to date on your work at all times. A good sense of discipline and punctuality will help you keep grounded and maintain a good work ethic. Remember to listen to your body and give it a rest when needed; otherwise, you will risk a burnout.
Many freelance agents work from home and although that has its set of advantages, you must draw a clear line between work and home. After all, what good is work if it interferes with your time with your loved ones? So, a work-life balance is even more important in at-home real estate business.
To scout clients and bring in successful deals, you will need to have a good reputation and a strong network of property dealers, brokers, and other stakeholders in the real estate sector.
Step 3: Take up a Pre-licensing Course
To sit for the licensing exam, you will have to take a pre-licensing course from an accredited school. Whether it is online classes, community college, or a real estate school, make sure you choose a course that is suited to your learning techniques, budget, and time.
The number of learning hours varies between states so know yours beforehand. Furthermore, the learning materials and instructors will influence your exam preparations so be sure to make a well-informed decision before selecting a course.
Step 4: Sit for the Licensing Exam
For information about exam schedule, registration, and payment, visit your state’s real estate commission website or enlist your instructor’s help.
The computerized, multiple-choice format exam tests you in two parts which have to be passed separately to qualify for the license. The first part tests you on the national portion on general real estate principles and practices and the second part is a state-specific section that covers your state’s real estate laws.
Check the website to find out more information about retakes and the deadline within which to complete them. After passing the exam, you have to apply for a license, submit required documents, and pay registration fees to the state real estate agency.
Keep in mind that you can work as a legal real estate agent only after receiving the license from a state real estate agency following the approval of your application.
Step 5: Become a ‘Realtor’
Essentially, a realtor is a real estate agent who is a member of the NAR (National Association of Realtors). This 1.3 million-member organization comprising salespeople, brokers, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and other participants in the residential and commercial real estate industries follow a strict ethical code while also providing lucrative opportunities for its members.
Besides the advantage of additional credibility, members enjoy access to business tools, real estate market research, data and discounts as well as the Realtors Property Resource (RPR), an online real estate database on zoning, permits, mortgage, and lien data, schools, and a large database of foreclosures of 166 million properties across the US.
Step 6: Finding a Workplace
The booming real estate business has lead to a growing demand of agents with multiple career options other than freelancing for a private real estate agency such as:
Investment analyzer, real estate appraiser, corporate asset manager, property asset manager, and financier.
Setup your own real estate business and cater to clients.
In order to work as a freelancer, you will have to be on the look-out for the right job opportunities. Join a reliable freelance website and upload your portfolio to appeal to potential clients.
You can also upload them on job seeking sites like linkedin.com. Such websites create an opportunity to allow clients to communicate and work with freelance real estate agents who fulfill their criteria.
Typically, you will be under the supervision of a state-licensed broker to oversee that your transactions follow state regulations. You will also receive a percentage of the broker’s commission that they get from your real estate deals.
Be mindful of ‘hidden’ expenses
Although the real estate business has become a successful career option for many, you should stay mindful of the expenses which can quickly add up.
License renewal, continuing education, lockbox fees, desk fees, tech fees (e.g., for your website), business cards, marketing materials, and other normal costs of doing business must be factored into your budget before you choose this career option.
A successful real estate agent will have to invest considerable time, effort, and money to garner a successful reputation. This is imperative if you plan to work as a freelancer.
Your availability will determine your reliability to clients thus you should consider working full-time instead of part-time for a larger pool of clients.
Real estate can be both time-consuming and expensive but is fruitful in the long-term. Commitment and dedication to your work is key in achieving success in this industry.
Aim for a broker license or other real estate associated certification for wider freelance career options. Keep working hard and good luck!