Each state has its own real estate department, which issues real estate licenses for sales agents and brokers and regulates the industry. While real estate laws vary from state to state, the process of obtaining a real estate license is similar throughout the country. After taking and passing the necessary state approved courses, passing the state and federal tests and submitting to a background check, many new licensees wonder what to do next.
Your new real estate license does not become active until you hang it with a designated broker. While looking for a broker is similar to looking for a job, a licensee also interviews the broker to a certain extent. The choice of broker can be a pivotal career decision. Commission rates vary from brokerage to brokerage. When a licensee makes a sell, she typically shares the commission with the broker. Depending on the brokerage and the licensee’s experience and production, the percentage amount might fluctuate. Discover if the broker provides training, what professional services he provides and fees you are expected to pay. You might need to rent office space from the broker or pay for specific services, such as Internet connection or phone.
Some states may require the licensee take an additional course or courses after completing licensing.In some states the new licensee must complete a one-day course on using a current sales contract. You may also be required to take continuing education courses to maintain your license. Check with your state real estate department to determine what, if any, additional courses are required before practicing real estate and for information on continuing education.
Even though the real estate licensee works under a broker, unless he is a salaried employee he is considered self-employed by the Internal Revenue Service. As with all self-employed individuals, there are certain business purchases to make. The real estate agent needs business cards, real estate signs and lock boxes. Consult with the broker before making these purchases, as the broker may supply these items, and the broker must approve any items displaying advertising.
Real estate brokerages vary. Some provide training and supervision, while others offer the agent minimal supervision and no training. Some brokers do not allow agents to work with clients until after the agent completes an in-house training course. If working with a broker who does not supply training, it is the new licensee’s responsibility to seek out courses and training to assist him in the management of his business. Refer to the local Realtor association and state real estate department for information on additional real estate education.
One of the first things many new real estate agents do is to join the local Realtor association. The National Association of Realtors, established in 1908, is a professional association for those in the real estate industry. Realtors are members of the association. While a real estate licensee does not have to be a member, the licensee’s broker may require the agent to join. When you join the local Realtor association, this gives you membership to the state and national associations. This involves paying a membership fee, taking an oath to follow the Realtor code of ethics, and taking courses required by the state, local or federal associations.
- "Modern Real Estate Practice"; Galaty, Allaway and Kyle; 2006
- Business briefcase image by Fotoskat from Fotolia.com