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Real Estate Agents Career

Career Description

A Real Estate Agent helps clients (businesses or individuals) buy and sell real estate, including homes, investment properties,  buildings, and land.

Common Work Tasks

  • Act as an intermediary in price negotiations between buyers and sellers
  • Become familiar with local zoning and tax laws
  • Arrange for title searches to verify ownership and for meetings between buyers and sellers during which they agree to the details of the transactions
  • Help to arrange favorable financing from a lender for the prospective buyer
  • Obtain listings, compare the listed property with similar properties that recently sold, and determine a competitive market price for the property
  • Show property to potential buyers
  • Make sure that any legally mandated or agreed-upon inspections, such as termite and radon inspections, take place
  • Make offers to the sellers on behalf of the client and make counteroffers according to the client’s instructions
  • Use digital cameras to take pictures of property being listed for sale
  • Research the real estate market for comparable properties and prices

Other Job Titles

Real Estate Agents are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Real Estate Broker
  • Sales Agent
  • Property Assessor
  • Realtor
  • Sales Representative
  • Property Manager

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
  Real estate agents must be high school graduates. In fact, as real estate transactions have become more legally complex, many firms have turned to college graduates to fill positions. A large number of agents and brokers have some college training. College courses in real estate, finance, business administration,  statistics, economics, law, and English are helpful. For those who intend to start their own company, business courses such as marketing and accounting are as important as courses in real estate or finance.

Certification and Licensure
      In every State and the District of Columbia, real estate agents must be licensed.  Prospective agents must pass a written examination. The examination includes questions on basic real estate transactions and laws affecting the sale of property. Most States require candidates for the general sales license to complete between 30 and 90 hours of classroom instruction.

              Personality traits are as important as academic background. Brokers look for agents who have a pleasant personality, honesty, and a neat appearance. Maturity, good judgment, trustworthiness, and enthusiasm for the job are required to attract prospective customers in this highly competitive field. Agents should be well organized, be detail oriented, and have a good memory for names, faces, and business particulars. They must be at least 18 years old.


The median annual salary of a Real Estate Agent is $40,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $106,000 annually, and the bottom 10 percent earn less than $21,000 annually. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of real estate agents are:

  • Offices of Real Estate Agents and Brokers - $56,240
  • Lessors of Real Estate - $44,960
  • Activities Related to Real Estate - $54,150
  • Residential Building Construction - $66,730
  • Land Subdivision - $58,420

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  11%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 46,000
  • Employment 2006 : 432,000
  • Employment 2016:  478,000
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