10 Steps to Becoming a Successful Real Estate Agent

Working in real estate requires hard work and dedication, but the rewards are plenty. Real estate offers excellent income potential, flexible work hours, and freedom to set your own pace. But working in this field is like anything else. You need the right education, training, and drive to compete with the best in the biz. To get started, follow the steps below to ensure your future success and profitability.

Step 1: Get a Good Education

Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have about real estate, the more clients you’ll obtain. More clients, more listings, and yep – more money. You can view our list of top real estate schools, or see the list below, which highlights some of the top schools as ranked by the U.S. News and World Report:

  1. University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia: The Wharton School’s real estate department offers concentrations in real estate at three levels: undergraduate, MBA, and doctoral.
  2. University of Wisconsin – Madison: Wisconsin’s School of Business offers undergraduate, MBA and Ph.D. programs in business administration with a real estate concentration.
  3. University of California – Berkeley: The Hass School of Business offers undergraduate and graduate programs in real estate, including an MBA with a real estate concentration.
  4. University of Georgia: The Terry College of Business offers a real estate major for undergraduates in addition to MBA and Ph.D. degrees in the field.
  5. University of Southern California: USC’s Price School of Public policy offers a Master of Real Estate Development degree as well as a certificate in real estate development.

Step 2: Get Licensed

Once you’ve earned your degree, it’s time to get your real estate license. Licensing is different in every state so make sure you know the requirements to practice in your area. However, most have similar basic requirements:

  • Candidates must be 18 years old
  • Pass an exam
  • Complete a number of hours of real estate courses

To get a broker’s license, real estate brokers must have experience working as a licensed sales agent (in most states). A broker’s license is a valuable financial asset. Sales agents who earn their broker’s license may open their own offices. Brokers can also help to negotiate terms and prices for their clients

Step 3: Develop a Real Estate Agent Budget

Real estate is a commission-based business so you’ll need to squirrel away enough money to get started. Start-up costs may include:

  • Licensing fees and courses
  • Board of REALTORS® membership dues
  • Business expenses (phone, computer, office supplies, personal marketing, etc.)

Step 4: Choose the Right Real Estate Office

Now that you have your license and other necessary credentials, it’s time to choose the right real estate firm to make your home. Find the answers to the questions below to help in your job search:

  1. Does the firm cover your listing advertisements?
  2. Do you notice a lot of For Sale signs from XYZ firms in the area?
  3. What do other agents have to say about XYZ firm?
  4. Does the firm offer training programs? If so, do they cover expenses?
  5. What is the commission rate and will you be paid immediately after a closing?

Step 5: Find a Mentor

Once you’ve decided on a firm, your next step is to find a mentor. Establishing a mentorship with another agent allows you to learn the ins and outs of the trade. Shadow your mentor and learn from his or her experiences. This is a great opportunity to ask questions, get advice, seek guidance, and learn what it takes to succeed in the real estate industry.

Step 6: Know Your Market

Successful real estate agents know the market and how to price real estate appropriately. They view comparable homes and other real estate for sale in order to help clients establish a competitive price.

But gathering and understanding positive and negative information on real estate markets takes time and effort. You’ll need to do your homework. Study local pricing. Know the area and its values. Your clients want to work with someone who knows the business and the area completely. With productively tools like the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), you can find accurate market comparatives, days on market, tax information, and much more.

Step 7: Utilize Technology

Technology is great for real estate agents. Here are some useful apps you can download:

    • Realtor.com: Access millions of homes from your phone!
    • Trulia.com: Connect with clients, convert leads, and stay informed.
    • Zillow.com: See homes for rent, sale, and share via Facebook, Twitter, and email.
    • Redfin: Save photos, tours, find homes for sale, and much more.
    • LoopNet: For the commercial real estate agent, access thousands of listings from your phone.

Step 8: Hold Open Houses

Open houses still attract prospective buyers. They provide additional market exposure and an opportunity to network with potential clients and other industry friends.

Keep in mind that showcasing a house is not as simple as putting an “Open House” sign in the front yard. You need to create a positive first impression by staging the house for sale. Work with your client to de-personalize the house, clear away clutter, tidy the yard, and remove bulky furniture. Set out bowls of potpourri or light a few candles. You want to make the house look larger and give it warmth. Some sellers are reluctant when it comes to removing items from the home, but a good agent knows how to get everyone working together.

Step 9: Build Your Client Portfolio

Building your portfolio is the most important part of the business. Asking for referrals and staying in touch with former clients keeps you in the game. And if you’re good at your job, your former clients will help your portfolio grow and thrive. Word of mouth is the best advertising there is!

You might want to consider creating an online portfolio that includes the following information:

  • Properties for Sale/Properties Sold: Here you can provide links to all your current listings as well as sold properties.
  • About Page: Include all your credentials, seminars attended, years in the business, etc.
  • Buyers: How will you help clients find their dream home?
  • Sellers: How will you help sell your client’s property?
  • Additional Resources: This is a great opportunity to provide links to useful information in the areas you serve such as the schools, parks, library, etc.

Step 10: Attend Seminars and Training Sessions

Continuing education is the way to get the skills and experiences you need to stay ahead of your competition. You can find a variety of different seminars and training sessions by asking your fellow agents, joining real estate associations, keeping tabs on REALTORS® events, and calling your state real estate board.

Top Real Estate Masters and Financial Planning Degrees

As real estate transactions have become increasingly more complex in the past several years, many real estate firms now prefer to have college graduates and even master's degree holders as their employees. Whether your interest is in real estate brokerage, development, law, architecture, or planning, a masters in real estate can open more career opportunities to you in this highly competitive industry. Below are the top online colleges offering masters in real estate or similar degree programs.

New England College
MS: Real Estate Mgmt
New England College: New England College's MS in real estate management is designed to craft compelling candidates for jobs in real estate agencies, consulting, corporate and residential development, and property management. Students learn about contract management, customer relations and project management, earning their degrees in less than two years by taking one class at a time.
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Golden Gate University
MS: Financial Planning
Golden Gate University: Golden Gate University's MS in financial planning is intended for students who wish to become financial planners, investment advisors or money managers, or who want to learn more about estate planning, insurance, taxes, and real estate for personal use. While all necessary coursework can be completed online, some classes are also offered in classrooms.
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