Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents help clients buy, sell, or lease land or property.
Real estate agents represent property owners when they sell their homes or land. They show properties to potential buyers and attempt to interest them in making a purchase.
Above the statewide median
$19.05 / hour Read more about wages
Above statewide average Read more about outlook
Education & Training:
|Postsecondary vocational training is common.|
On the Job:
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Job Title Examples:
Real Estate Salesperson,
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Wages & Outlook
Pay varies with the type and location of the property and the agent's abilities. Real estate agents earn commissions on sales rather than a salary. Their commissions range from six to ten percent of the property price. Real estate agents are not paid until after the sale closes. Closing a sale can take several months after the seller accepts the buyer's offer. For that reason, beginning real estate agents need enough money to support themselves for at least six months.
Commissions may be divided among several agents and brokers. The broker and the agent in the firm who list the property share part of the commission. In addition, the broker and the agent in the firm who sell the property receive part of the commission. An agent's share varies from firm to firm. In general, it is about half of the amount received by the firm. Agents who both list and sell a property make a higher commission.
Since most real estate agents are self-employed, they do not receive benefits such as health insurance and a retirement plan. They must provide these benefits for themselves.
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In Minnesota, about 7,842 real estate agents work in this medium-sized occupation.
About 57 percent of real estate agents are self-employed.
- Real estate agencies
- Real estate rental companies
Growth in this occupation will be due to a growing population. It is expected that a large number of young adults will be forming households in greater numbers. They will require the services of real estate agents. While the need for real estate agents will increase, the number of agents may actually decline. This is because many agents now use computers, cell phones, and pagers. Most access pictures of houses using their computers. They can show clients several homes without leaving the office. This new technology helps agents serve more clients than in the past. In addition, people are using the Internet to access real estate information with out the help of an agent. This may also eliminate some of the need for real estate agents.
A large number of job openings will occur each year as people leave this occupation. Real estate is a competitive industry. Many beginners leave the field because they are unable to get listings or because they do not make enough sales. Well-trained, ambitious people who enjoy sales should do well in this occupation.
Employment of real estate agents is sensitive to the state of the economy. During downturns, people are less likely to buy and sell houses. In these periods, the demand for agents declines and some agents lose their jobs or work fewer hours. When the economy is strong, more people are likely to buy homes. Many people buy larger houses because their incomes have grown.
|Seven County Mpls-St Paul, MN||3,655||4,127||472||12.9%|
On the Job
Real estate agents help clients buy, sell, or lease land or property.
Most studies show that up to 40% of household income is spent on housing. That's like saying that for every $10 in your pocket, $4 goes to paying for the roof over your head. Needless to say, shelter is one of the most important human needs, and also one of the more expensive ones to fill. That's why when it is time to buy or sell a home, most people turn to real estate agents to help them through the process.Real estate agents represent property owners when they sell their homes or land. These agents inspect properties before they agree to sell them. To determine a property's market price, agents compare the property with similar properties that have been sold recently. They may make suggestions to property owners about improvements they can make to increase the value of their property. Then agents take pictures of properties and write short descriptions of the land or buildings. They advertise the property listings in newspapers, mailings, and real estate booklets. Agents frequently hold "open houses," where the public can tour homes for sale. Agents talk to prospective buyers and answer their questions about the property. When buyers make offers on property, agents listen to the offers and discuss them with sellers. They may accept or reject offers outright. They often negotiate with buyers to get a better sale price for their clients.
Real estate agents also represent property buyers. Before showing properties to potential buyers, agents talk to buyers about the type of properties they would like and can afford. For example, they ask buyers how many rooms they want and what part of town they want to live in. Based on this information, agents search computer listings of properties that buyers may like. Next, agents and buyers visit a number of properties to find one the buyers like. They may do this several times over a period of weeks or months. While visiting properties, agents answer questions and emphasize the selling points, such as location, that are most important to the buyer. Agents and buyers may visit a property several times in order for buyers to be sure it is what they want.
When buyers choose a property, agents handle the sale. First, they explain the steps of the buying process to first-time buyers. Next, they help clients fill out the paperwork to make a formal offer. They also collect a deposit from clients toward the price of the property. Agents then present the offer to the sellers' agent. They negotiate the price of the property with the sellers, following their clients' instructions. When a contract is signed, agents must see that all special terms of the contract are met before the closing date. For example, they make sure all repairs are made before their clients move in.
In order for real estate agents to have properties to sell, they must find people who are ready to sell. Some property owners come to the real estate office in search of an agent, but often agents must recruit homeowners. Agents may call or write letters to property owners to determine if they want to sell their property.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Present buyers' offers to sellers or sellers' agents.
- Make sure that terms and conditions of purchase are met before closing dates.
- Interview potential buyers to determine their wants, needs, and price range.
- Prepare real estate contracts. Accept deposits on homes.
- Supervise closings. Make sure all purchase documents are complete.
- Listen to buyers' offers. Accept or reject offers. May negotiate different terms of sale.
- Market their services through newspaper and TV ads, mailings, billboards, or real estate booklets.
- Determine the competitive market price for a property.
- Explain characteristics of properties to buyers. Describe the terms of the sale.
- Use computers to put together listings of properties for sale.
- Determine if clients have clear property titles.
- Review clients' construction plans and make recommendations.
- Explain the buying process to clients and answer their questions.
- Inspect properties and notify owners of any problems.
- Attend seminars and training sessions to improve sales techniques.
- Appraise the value of properties. Suggest ways property owners can increase the value of their property.
- Coordinate meetings between buyers and sellers.
- Help clients obtain the best financing option.
- Review literature to remain knowledgeable about real estate markets.
- Evaluate clients' financial status.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Work with the public.
- Resolve conflicts and negotiate with others.
- Use computers.
- Convince others to buy goods or change their minds or actions.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Document and record information.
- Analyze data or information.
- Schedule work and activities.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Perform administrative tasks.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Process information.
- Think creatively.
- Provide advice and consultation to others.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a high level of social contact. They are in constant contact with buyers, sellers, and other agents.
- Are often placed in conflict situations in which buyers and sellers may be rude or angry.
- Communicate with buyers and sellers daily by telephone, e-mail, or in person.
- Write letters and memos on a weekly basis.
- Work in a group or as part of a team.
- Work indoors while preparing contracts and other paperwork. They work outdoors while showing and inspecting properties.
- Must use a vehicle to travel to and from properties.
- Work somewhat close to other people. They may share office space with coworkers.
- Must be exact in their work. Errors could cause clients to lose money.
- Repeat the same tasks over and over, such as preparing contracts.
- Often make decisions that strongly impact clients. They rarely consult with a supervisor before making decisions.
- Are usually able to set their tasks for the day without consulting with a supervisor.
- Are highly competitive with other agents.
- Must meet strict deadlines on a weekly basis.
- Generally have a set schedule each week.
- May work full time or part time, but most work 40 hours a week.
- May work evenings and weekends to accommodate the schedules of potential buyers. Sunday afternoon open houses are common in many areas.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Sit for long periods of time.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- See details of objects whether they are nearby or far away.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Determine from which direction a sound came.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.
Education & Training
To work as a real estate agent, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or GED;
- complete training in real estate essentials and practices; and
- have a license to sell real estate.
Education after high school
Most states require real estate agents to complete a formal training program. These programs cover real estate transactions and laws. Programs are between 30 and 90 hours. Many vocational schools, colleges, and universities offer this program.
Most real estate firms offer formal training programs. Some local real estate associations offer courses about the basic and legal aspects of real estate.
Although it is not required, most real estate agents have some college education. Many agents have a bachelor's degree. Several majors are good preparation for this occupation. Some of the best are real estate, business management, finance, and marketing.
Many agents transfer from other jobs to real estate sales. Work experience in sales or dealing with people is good preparation for this occupation.
New agents often work with experienced agents or brokers to learn how to show properties and answer clients' questions. As a new agent you also learn how to close sales and write sales contracts. You might receive training for up to one month.
After training, agents often take seminars on improving their sales.
Related Programs (Current training programs available)
Fields of Study (What to study to prepare for this career)
Click on any of the Fields of Study listed below to find out more about preparing for this career.
Helpful High School Courses
In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.
You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.
Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this occupation include:
- Interior Design
- Principles of Advertising
- Principles of Sales
Many real estate agents are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:
- Introduction to Business
The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.
You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.
Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career.
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.
People in this career need to:
- Listen to others, understand, and ask questions.
- Express ideas clearly when speaking or writing.
- Read and understand written materials.
- Develop rules or follow guidelines for arranging items.
- Judge the costs and benefits of a possible action.
- Make sense of information by studying it.
- Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.
- Use reasoning to discover answers to problems.
- Combine several pieces of information and draw conclusions.
- Analyze ideas and use logic to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
- Identify problems and review information. Develop, review, and apply solutions.
- Think of new ideas or original and creative ways to solve problems.
- Use math skills to solve problems.
- Manage the time of self and others.
- Check how well one is learning or doing something.
- Decide how to spend money to get the work done and keep track of how the money was used.
- Solve problems by bringing others together to discuss differences.
- Be aware of others' reactions and change behavior in relation to them.
- Look for ways to help people.
- Use several methods to learn or teach new things.
Reason and Problem Solve
Use Math and Science
Manage Oneself, People, Time and Things
Work with People
People in this career need knowledge in the following areas:
- Sales and Marketing: Knowledge of advertising and selling products and services.
- Customer and Personal Service: Knowledge of providing special services to customers based on their needs.
- English Language: Knowledge of the meaning, spelling, and use of the English language.
- Law, Government, and Jurisprudence: Knowledge of laws, rules, court procedures, and the political process.
- Clerical: Knowledge of general office work such as filing and recording information.
- Computers and Electronics: Knowledge of computer hardware and software.
- Mathematics: Knowledge of the rules and uses of numbers. Areas of knowledge include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and statistics.
- Psychology: Knowledge of people, their actions, and mental processes. This may include knowledge of how to treat emotional and behavioral problems.
People in this career are people who tend to:
- Consider achievement important. They like to see the results of their work and to use their strongest abilities. They like to get a feeling of accomplishment from their work.
- Consider relationships important. They like to work in a friendly, non-competitive environment. They like to do things for other people. They prefer jobs where they are not pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
- Consider independence important. They like to make decisions and try out ideas on their own. They prefer jobs where they can plan their work with little supervision.
- Consider good working conditions important. They like jobs offering steady employment and good pay. They want employment that fits their individual work style. They may prefer doing a variety of tasks, working alone, or being busy all the time.
- Consider recognition important. They like to work in jobs which have opportunities for them to advance, be recognized for their work, and direct and instruct others. They usually prefer jobs in which they are looked up to by others.
- Have enterprising interests. They like work activities that involve starting up and carrying out projects, especially in business. They like to lead and persuade others, make decisions, and take risks for profit.
- Have conventional interests. They like work activities that follow set procedures, routines, and standards. They like to work with data and detail. They prefer working where there is a clear line of authority to follow.
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.
Tools & Technology for Real Estate Sales Agents
|Desktop computers||Notebook computers|
|Accounting software||Graphics or photo imaging software|
Licensing / Certification
Real estate agents must be licensed to practice in Minnesota. Applicants must:
- complete 30 hours of real estate course work ;
- complete an additional 60 hours of course work if not licensed before July 1,1969; and
- complete and pass the real estate examination.
Real estate brokers also must be licensed in Minnesota. Applicants must:
- have two years of work experience as a real estate salesperson;
- complete a 30-hour broker course; and
- pass the real estate broker examination.
A limited broker's license and real estate closing agent's license are also available.
For more information, contact:
Minnesota Department of Commerce
85 7th Place East, Suite 600
St. Paul MN 55101
All states require real estate agents to be licensed. Requirements vary by state.
Certifications are examinations that test or enhance your knowledge, experience or skills in an occupation or profession.
There are 30 certifications related to this career.
Click on occupations listed below to find State
of Minnesota licensing information.
Real Estate Salesperson; Real Estate Broker
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When hiring beginning agents, employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor's degree. However, personality traits are just as important as academic background. Brokers look for agents who are pleasant, honest, and have a neat appearance. Knowledge of the local area is an asset.
When hiring experienced agents, employers require them to have their license. They also analyze agents' sales history.
Employers look for applicants who have tact and excellent people skills. They also look for applicants who are organized, detail-oriented, and have a good memory for names and places.
Real estate agents advance by getting more clients and selling more properties. They also advance by buying and selling more expensive properties. These forms of advancement usually mean agents receive higher wages.
Agents who work at large firms may become managers. Agents who earn their state broker's license may open their own offices. A few agents may become real estate appraisers and estimate the current market value of properties. Agents who enjoy dealing with financing may become loan agents and help buyers get mortgages. Some agents may become property managers and help people find properties to rent.
Real Estate Salesperson, Tour Coordinator, Broker Associate, Sales Agent, Realtor
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