Here's How To Start A Career As A Real Estate Agent – The List
The glamorous agents of Netflix’s “Selling Sunset” may make real estate look like it’s all stilettos and office drama, but the surprising truth involves a lot more paperwork. According to a 2021 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, real estate agents earn a mean annual income of $61,480, over $3,000 more than the national average. As explained by Forbes, salaries are dependent on location and level of expertise. In New York, for instance, the average agent can earn well over $100,000 each year. Netflix’s Oppenheim agents are known to receive six figures from a single commission.
However, even though selling properties can be a lucrative career option, don’t expect to start eating caviar for breakfast along with Christine Quinn. It takes time, yearly dues, and hours of studying to get to the top — you’ll also face plenty of competition along the way. According to Investopedia, there are an estimate 3 million active real estate licensees in the United States alone. Eager to begin selling houses? Becoming an agent starts with going back to school.
To get started, find an accredited pre-licensing course available in your state or online. Depending on where you’re located, the class can total anywhere from 63 to 135 hours and cost an estimated $350 (via Investopedia). Throughout the class, future agents learn about everything from real estate law to sales and listing contracts. However, the curriculum will mostly depend on your state’s requirements, per Van Education Center. After you’ve fully completed the course, it’s time to sharpen your number 2 pencils and register for the licensing exam.
As reported by Investopedia, the exam costs anywhere between $100 to $300 and is made up of two parts: national and state-specific. Questions are exclusively multiple choice, but passing grades depend on your state. Though there is an option to retake the exam after receiving a failing grade, you may be required to wait a set period in between attempts. After passing the test, you have a year to send a license application to your state’s real estate commission office (which requires yet another free, unfortunately). And, yes, despite Chrissy Teigen’s doubts, all agents on “Selling Sunset” are in fact licensed realtors according to the California Department of Real Estate and as reported by Time. Only after your license has been approved is it legal to begin selling properties, per Investopedia.
Now that your license has successfully been approved (congrats!), it’s time find a brokerage. In simple terms, a broker is a licensed boss tasked with supervising agents and managing transactions, according to Zillow. They make sure everyone’s following state guidelines, split commissions with agents, and offer help when needed — like when broker Jason Oppenheim gave Chrishell Stause an important piece of advice when she was first starting out. Most brokerages will also assist with staging and photography, services which often require outside specialists.
Once an agent doesn’t mean always an agent, however. If you decide to continue your career, remember to renew your license annually (via Investopedia). It’s also helpful to begin building your professional network, developing relationships with clientele and fellow realtors. Eventually, after a certain amount of experience and success, some agents opt to apply for a broker’s license themselves, a credential which enables them to work independently or even hire their own employees.