After my grandfather sold his dry farm and retired as a supervisor in a local sugar factory, he found himself at loose ends. He needed something to do. So he took the necessary courses and became a real estate agent.
Becoming a real estate agent can be one way to boost your income. Real estate agents also have the advantage of being able to, in many cases, set their own hours. You can’t become a real estate agent just by wanting to, though. Here is what you need to do in order to become a real estate agent:
Take the Appropriate Courses
Each state has its own requirements for getting licensed as a real estate agent. Find out what those requirements are for your state, and prepare yourself to pay for those courses. In some states, like California, where college-level courses might be required, the cost can be a little higher. Other states have easier requirements (my grandfather, in Idaho, only had to take 90 hours worth of courses).
Also consider the licensing requirements in your state. You will have to take a state test, and possibly a national test as well. You will have to pay to take these exams. Additionally, you will need to decide if you want to be designated a REALTORS®. While you don’t need to join the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and become a REALTORS® in order to become a real estate agent, it can help to have that designation. You will have to attend local chapter meetings, and meet other requirements in order to receive the REALTORS® designation.
Work with a Brokerage
As a real estate agent, you need to work with a brokerage. Real estate agents in all states are required to work with properly credentialed brokers. Research the brokerages in your area and decide which is likely to best suit your needs. You might have to interview with the brokerage, much as you would when applying for any other job. If you want to become a REALTORS®, you will need to hire on with a brokerage that is affiliated with the NAR.
In order to become a broker yourself, you need at least three more years of real estate experience, and you might need to meet other requirements. Until you can qualify to become a broker on your own, and start your own real estate brokerage, you will need to work under someone else. Make sure that you work with someone who can provide you with good additional training and who can answer your questions. If you are just starting out, you will want good help as you grow as a real estate agent.
Build Your Client Base
If you want to become a real estate agent, you will need to actively build your client base. While you can get some clients by waiting at the brokerage, being assigned random callers who just contact the brokerage looking for information, your best bet is to actively build your client base.
You can do this by using your network to let others know that you are a real estate agent. You can let friends and family know that you are in the real estate business, and they can refer others to you. Additionally, it’s possible to take steps to market yourself with flyers and business cards. A couple of the real estate agents in my town regularly send out direct-mail postcards advertising their services.
Be prepared for the fact that you might not make money for a few months. You will need to be sure that you have a good budget planned, and that you are prepared for the fact that you might need to pay many of your own listing and marketing costs. If you put in the time and effort, though, there is a good chance that you can build your client base up to the point where you are a successful real estate agent.
Photo credit: foilman.
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.