How to be a Real Estate Agent

By Jason Marshall , last updated October 22, 2011

Becoming a real estate agent is an attractive career choice for many, especially those changing careers. It is true that real estate agents are some of the first to feel the pinch in tough economic times, but they also have the ability to reap enormous rewards in economy booms. If you are interested in becoming a real estate agent, there are some general steps you need to follow to meet state requirements and regulations and get licensed.

What Makes a Good Real Estate Agent?

Before you start the process of getting licensed you should think about whether or not you have what it takes to be a good real estate agent. Successful real estate agents work well with people and pay sharp attention to detail. They also work long hours, often outside of the normal business week. Agents have to be prepared to show properties when their clients are able to go, often in the evenings or on weekends. So if you don’t work well with people or you aren’t willing to sacrifice your Sunday barbeques, then real estate may not be the career for you.

The Licensing Process

If, however, you think you have what it takes then you need to start the process of getting licensed by the state in which you live. Every state’s requirements are different so you should take the time to read up on them. Generally, though, you will need to be at least 18 years old, although some states push that requirement up to 21. You will also have to complete courses in real estate. Most states require 40-50 hours of classes. It will cost money to take the classes, but you will not be able to get your license until they are completed. The application for your real estate license also costs money, usually around $50, though this can vary by quite a bit depending on the state.

Many state impose limitations on who can receive and keep a license. Most states decline the applications of anyone with felony convictions over the past ten years. That includes felony convictions abroad. Other states require you to complete more courses after the license has been granted. If they are not completed, the license is cancelled.

Real Estate Associations

In order to send the right message to your clients and keep up to date on the issues associated with your industry, it is a good idea to join a real estate association. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) strictly holds its members to a code of ethics and standards of practice. They also provide ongoing classes to ensure its members are as well informed as possible on the rapidly changing industry. Some states require annual completion of these courses for agents to keep their licenses.

Again, the steps and requirements vary greatly state by state so this is only a broad outline of what it takes to become a real estate agent. But these steps are generally what is required and if you are willing to commit the time and money, a rewarding career in real estate is waiting for you.

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