How to Become a Real Estate Agent

how to become a real estate agent

A career in real estate is all about freedom. A chance to set your own hours, be your own boss and achieve great things. And it’s a career you can get started on today. To help you understand how to become a real estate agent, you can look at the process in two ways — generally and specifically. In general, there are five steps you can start taking today to launch your real estate career. But if you want the nitty-gritty on how to become a real estate agent, we’ve put together this ultimate guide that will talk about the details so you don’t miss a step.

13 Steps to becoming a real estate agent

If you’re the kind of person who likes a checklist that’s broken down into specific requirements, here’s the list for you.

1. Understand your state’s requirements

The requirements for obtaining your real estate license vary from state to state. The first step in learning how to become a real estate agent in your local housing market is to research requirements in your particular state. You can find your state’s requirements on your state’s pre-licensing course page at Real Estate Express. There are also some optional classes you might want to take to help you achieve your state’s requirements. You can view all the courses that might help you in this list.

2. Find a real estate school

Make sure you find an ARELLO-accredited real estate school that offers pre-licensing coursework specific to your state. You will also want to decide if an online school or a classroom is the best option for you. We’ve put together a list of five key questions to ask when choosing a real estate school that can help you as you decide. Also, here’s a quick outline of what you can expect with an online real estate school vs. a classroom:

online real estate school vs classroom

3. Take your real estate pre-licensing coursework

All states require some form of pre-licensing coursework before you can take the real estate licensing exam. The type and amount of coursework needed will vary from state to state, which is why it’s important for you to look up your state’s requirements. Determine how much your pre-licensing coursework will cost in case you need to save some money or get financing before you launch your real estate career.

4. Study for your real estate pre-licensing exam

Before you can take your state real estate exam, you’ll have to pass the pre-licensing exam at the end of your coursework. Many students choose online coursework, in which case this exam will be online, too. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of studying for an exam, even if you’ve been out of school for a while. These study hacks can help you maximize your time and set you up for success on test day.

5. Consider a real estate exam prep program

Before you pass your pre-licensing coursework, consider a real estate exam prep program that will help you study state-specific material for your state real estate exam. Our Exam Prep Master program prepares you for the specific topics in your state’s license exam. Nearly everyone who completes the Exam Prep Master program passes their real estate licensing exam on the first try. However, if you don’t, we will refund your money.

6. Apply for and schedule your state real estate exam

Once you pass your real estate pre-licensing coursework, sign up for your state licensing exam. Usually, the application fee is about $25. Research when and where the next real estate exam will be in your state. These are most frequently administered by third-party testing centers. Make sure you get information about parking, hours and any materials you’ll need to bring with you on test day.

7. Complete the exam requirements

You may need to get fingerprinted and complete a background check before you can take your state real estate exam. Some states also require that you have Errors and Omissions Insurance on hand. This may be offered by your broker. Before you take your exam, ask the testing center what requirements you’ll need to have on test day.

8. Choose your broker

Depending on your state, you may be required to be sponsored by your broker to take the real estate exam. Choosing your broker may happen at this stage, or it may happen later, once you pass your test and are ready to start working. Knowing what broker to work for is one of the biggest steps of your real estate career. Your broker can influence how you get paid, how much you earn, your niche and what resources are available to help you advance in your career. Make sure you do your research on this step and find a broker who truly meshes with your goals.

9. Pass your state licensing exam

Taking and passing your state licensing exam is one of the most important steps on our checklist of how to become a real estate agent. Each state has different passing requirements for the licensing exam. You can view this information on your state’s website. To help ensure you pass your exam the first time, remember to consider taking a real estate exam prep course.

10. Join professional real estate organizations

Once you’ve passed the exam and earned your real estate license, you’ll want to become a member of your state and local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and perhaps the National Association of REALTORS®. These organizations provide valuable networking tools and help professionalize your career and goals. You’ll be able to attend national conferences and get access to valuable research that can help you stay updated on trends and best practices in your niche.

11. Execute your marketing plan

As a new real estate agent, your marketing plan should include a website, business cards, flyers, advertisements, social media, and personal networking. You need to find clients and start getting some transactions under your belt. Just remember that whatever marketing plan you have in place, it’s important for you to continually track your return on investment. Research shows that agents who track their ROI earn more in the long run than agents who don’t.

12. Complete necessary real estate post-licensing coursework

A handful of states require you to complete real estate post-licensing coursework within the first 6–12 months after you obtain your real estate license. Don’t let this slip from your radar.

13. Complete your first transaction

Once you have all your systems in place, let everyone know you’re in the real estate business. Soon you’ll start interacting with potential buyers and sellers, and you’ll be in business! Now comes the part you’ve been waiting for — your first transaction. Even if you feel confident it’s always a good idea to have a more experienced agent check your work to make sure you’re doing the very best for your clients. After it’s all done, sit down, give yourself a pat on the back and smile — you’re officially a real estate agent.

Get started on your new career

After reading this checklist, you should now have a better understanding of how to become a real estate agent. Although some details and requirements vary across different states, you can use this as a general guide for beginning your new career in real estate.

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