How to Start a Career in Real Estate – Ultimate Guide

Hire Smarter.
Grow Your Workforce.

Despite the ever-growing dismay amongst markets during the past two years (do we have to state why?) real estate continues to stay hot. So much so that the housing market is reaching unseen heights since you-know-what scorched the nation. As a career that will stand the test of time, it seems like the perfect moment to jump on the ship of real estate. But how do you start a career in real estate? Where do you even begin? 

Working as a real estate agent has a plethora of positives. Benefits include working on your own schedule to receiving compensation based on your efforts. Henceforth, real estate can lead to a long-term career filled with fulfillment and lucrativeness. But is jumping in easy? Is it possible today?

Let’s break it down.

What Is Real Estate?

Real estate is more than nice suits and plastic fruit in frivolous bowls. Simply put, real estate involves the act of helping a person, business, or organization sell or buy property. This work involves selling, showing off property, appraising houses, inspecting leases and other legal work. Henceforth, there’s more to the industry than showing off houses and signing dotted lines.

As far as real estate agents go, there are three major niches. When working to sell property, you can fall into a few different categories. We’ll break down the biggest ones.

Residential Real Estate

This is the most commonly thought of niche in the real estate field. The work involves selling and buying single-family homes. Selling houses, buying houses, flipping houses. That’s it.

Fortunately, this is the most accessible and popular form of real estate broking. Not only does it have a low barrier of entry, but it’s possible to do independently and can lead to significant financial gain. 

Becoming a residential real estate broker does not require a college degree, just a real estate license (we’ll get into that later).

Commercial Real Estate

This sector involves selling commercial properties, office buildings and retail centers. While these deals tend to take longer, they involve bigger investments, creating more profit. 

Becoming a broker in this niche usually involves experience in the residential realm and a Bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or a related field. This work usually involves working with a brokerage firm, so it may not be accessible for those that want to work on their own.

Property Management

While similar work to the aforementioned niches, property management does not involve selling property. Overall, the work involves taking care of residential or commercial properties. The position often comes with being employed by a brokerage firm that owns the properties, but it is a career that is often fallen into. 

Property management often acts as a foot in the door of the real estate business. While specific experience, degrees, or certification may be required for certain roles, it’s not often necessary. Ultimately, it is a great way to get into the industry and build connections before becoming an agent. 

No Degree? No Problem!

This is usually the point in our career-starting guides where we break down the applicable college degrees needed for the field. Fortunately, real estate is a bit different than other careers. There is no degree-sized gate blocking your way. Sales is sales, after all. 

Furthermore, a college degree will never hurt your chances of success in an industry. Not only does it show your dedication, but it shows your knowledge of the subject. If you are deadset on going to college to further your education, that’s both advantageous and admirable. 

If you are planning on becoming a commercial agent, get a degree in golf. 

Jokes aside…

Best Degrees to Recieve for Real Estate Agents

  • Real Estate (if the college has the major. Duh.)
  • Business
  • Marketing
  • Economics
  • Communications
  • Applicable trades (electrician, carpentry, construction, etc)

How to start a career in real estate doesn’t often include garnering a degree. Some successful agents consider it a waste of time. A license can be achieved at 18, allowing you to jump right into gaining valuable experience.

Get a Real Estate License ASAP

While a degree is not necessary for property sales, a real estate license is. Regardless of what section of real estate you want to get into, you have to go through the legality process first. Consequently, each state has its own set of rules for obtaining a license. These states may differentiate in factors like age, education requirements (like high school or GED), pre-licensing courses and criminal history.

The first step in how to start a career in real estate is to research the requirements for your locality. 
Because we are based in Denver, we will use Colorado’s licensing program to further our example. These are the steps based on these requirements.

Prepare for Real Estate Licensing Test

Unfortunately, acquiring a real estate license is not as easy as filling out an application (though becoming a private investigator is. All you need is an application and fedora). 

These courses are available through local trade schools, colleges, or online courses and usually start at around $200. They will provide you with a crash course on the education necessary for completing the real estate exam. In Colorado, these courses will also provide you with a certificate of education that allows you to complete said exam.

Take the Real Estate License Exam

After finishing your education, you will have to take and pass the exam. In Colorado, for example, this exam runs through PSI, a company that works closely with the Colorado Department of Real Estate.

This exam costs around $50 and can be taken multiple times (though you must pay each time).

Ultimately, this exam covers the basics of real estate, including topics like fundamentals, law, the law of contracts and property management. 

Have no fear; some states have reciprocal licensing agreements with other states. For example, a Colorado license can transfer to Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusets, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Washington (that was a mouthful). All that is necessary to transfer to these states is to retake the exam.  

Pass a Background Check

Unfortunately for some, a background check is required to become a real estate agent in Colorado. A candidate must complete and background check and fingerprint scan with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. 

Once again, the defining factors of which backgrounds are excluded depends on the state.

Find a Sponsor Broker

To establish your license, you must become sponsored by a brokerage. Sure, the endgame may be to be a salesperson on your own, but you must first start under the tutelage of another company. Once you have passed the exam, you can begin applying to real estate brokers in your area. 

Luckily, this process is far from finding a job. In fact, it’s more so you, the aspiring agent, interviewing brokers, not the other way around. Plenty of brokers are always looking for new agents, especially in the current market. 

Once you have finished your courses, passed your exam, found a sponsor and passed a background check, you can now become officially licensed. 

Unfortunately, this license is only active for three years. After the set amount of years, you will have to retake the exam.

Buying real estate is not only the best way, the quickest way, the safest way, but the only way to become wealthy.

Marshall Field, American entrepreneur

Well… Now What?

So, you are now a licensed real estate agent. Congratulations. Wealth and fame are only a few long, hard years of work ahead. The journey has only just begun. What do you do now?

Sure, you are now legally a real estate agent, but are you really? Now the fun begins. Here is how to start a career in real estate.

Consider Becoming a Realtor

We are about to blow your mind. Are you ready?

A real estate agent and a realtor are not the same things. No, really. You can pick your jaw up off of the floor now.

Simply put, realtors are technically real estate agents that are part of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The NAR is the largest trade association in the country, representing over 1.3 million salespeople, property managers, brokers and appraisers.

What exactly does this mean? Both agents and realtors buy and sell property. The difference, realtors are backed by the NAR. This backing shows a salesperson’s admittance to a code of ethics and portrays professionalism. Basically, it looks good to clients and brokers.

Furthermore, NAR realtors have access to business tools like Realtors Property Resource (RPR), the largest online real estate database in the country. They also have more opportunities for conferences, furthering education and large foreclosures.

NAR memberships start at around $150 a year. So, there is no reason to skimp out on it.

Work With Your Broker

If you had to obtain a broker sponsor, then you are already a step ahead in the process!

While the concept of starting your own brokerage sounds enticing (working for yourself is great), you’ve got to get your feet wet. The easiest way to get experience in the field is to begin under a broker. In fact, some states require you to stay with your sponsoring broker for a year or two.

To put it simply, a broker is above an agent. The broker has continued their education to the point of acquiring a broker’s license. They have the capital and clientele to assign listings to you, the agent. After selling the property, the broker takes a percentage of the cut. As an agent under a broker, you usually do not make a salary, but a commission on property sales.

Working under a broker not only allows you to learn the tools of the trade but provides you with valuable connections and insight into the industry. Usually, you have to pay a yearly fee to have a desk at a brokerage, but it depends on the situation. Seeing as most states require you to already be sponsored before licensing, you already have a step ahead.

Choose a broker that seems like a good leader. Ultimately, you want it to be someone you trust that can help you learn and grow. We all know about the toxicity of a bad boss. This danger certainly falls into the real estate realm, as well.

Make Connections

The key to success in any industry is to meet the right people. Surrounding yourself with those that have already, and continue to, enjoy the fruits of their labor is always a plus. Not only do you garnish on a wealth of affective knowledge, but you gain more opportunities, too.

How to start a career in real estate truly breaks down to your social ladder. When someone has the burden of selling or buying property, they know how difficult the process is. They want to work with someone they know is successful, professional and honest. As a real estate agent, your reputation is everything.

Attend virtual conferences, in-person conferences and events. Make connections with anyone you are introduced to in your work with a broker. Take the time to learn names and shake hands. Basically, take any chance you can to meet more people in your field. Having a Rolodex of potential clients and other professionals helps in dividends. Know property managers, construction workers, electricians, etc. Anyone that is in, or surrounds, the trade can be useful eventually.

Make Business Cards

You are a professional now. You’re a big agent in a big world. It is time to have business cards on hand. Don’t find yourself in a situation where you lose contact with a potential client because they don’t have your contact information. Always have business cards on hand, and use them.

Also, create a professional email. While this may seem like a no-brainer, there are too many (and I mean too many) professionals still using cheesy emails. Leave at home, please.

Upgrade Your Social Media Presence

We have all seen the gaudy billboards with real estate agents standing back-to-back. Their names and smiles may seem ridiculous, but there is reasoning behind the madness. How to start a career in real estate and how to become successful involve personality. Eventually, you want clients to come to you. This popularity involves both word of mouth and exercising character in the world.

While funding for bus stop advertisements and billboards may not come from the jump, social media is always a tool to gain popularity as a professional. Start building your social media presence. You are now a salesperson, after all. Having a solid presence online can help spread your name among local buyers and sellers. You never know when someone will hear about you online. It is 2024.

If you start a personal website, take some time to work on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This work will help you garner more attention from the local market. Overall, you are basically starting a personal business. Think of advertising in this way.

Can Real Estate Agents Work from Home?

We live in the strange world of 2024. The dystopia where masks and mobile work are prevalent. Pajamas and office chair sales are unprecedented.

Jokes aside, a lot of employees have decided to forgo the office. We have entered a new realm of working from home. For some of us, this is a godsend Jokes aside, a lot of employees have decided to forgo the office. We have entered a new realm of working from home. For some of us, this is a godsend (especially those that hate driving).

Can real estate agents work from home? Can you start a career in real estate from your couch?

Well, kinda.

We broke it down here. To put it simply, working from home as a real estate agent can help you increase your scheduling and client relationships, but that will always involve meeting in person eventually.

Working with a Staffing Agency

Here comes some self-promotion. Shameless, nonetheless.

If you are having trouble findings gigs as a new agent, or need more information on where to start, you can always reach out to a staffing agency. Despite misconceptions, working with a staffing agency as an employee is free. We help you find a job and then receive payment from the employer. We don’t get paid until you do. It’s always free to reach out!

How to start a career in real estate can be as simple as. Well. Starting!