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What does a real estate agent do?

Real estate agents help people buy and sell houses. They must be able to say approximately how much money a house is worth. They need to know what the neighborhoods in their towns are like. They must know the laws that have to do with buying or selling a house. They also can tell home buyers where to get a loan if they need more money to buy a house. In return for selling a house, real estate agents get to keep a small part of the money that the buyer paid for it. Real estate agents work for real estate brokers. Real estate brokers manage real estate offices.

People who want to buy a house often ask a real estate agent to help them. They meet with the agent to tell him or her what kind of house they want. They must also discuss how much money they can afford to spend. The agent then takes them to see houses for sale. Buying a house is a very important decision because houses cost a lot of money. This means that buyers often want to look at many houses before they decide to buy one.

Real estate agents also sell houses for people. They help the seller set the price for the house. To do this, they must know what the house is like. They must also figure out what people would be willing to pay for the house so that it will sell quickly. They make sure that people see ads for the house so that they can think about buying it.

Once a person agrees to buy a house, real estate agents still have work to do. They must fill out special forms that let everyone know that the house has a new owner. Both the buyer and the seller of the house must sign these forms for the sale of the house to be legal. Often, the agents must help the buyer to get a loan from the bank to pay for the house.

Real estate agents generally work in offices. Since much information about properties is available over the Internet, some agents can work out of their own homes. In either case, however, much of their time is spent outside the office showing houses to buyers. Sometimes they must leave the office to meet with people who have houses to sell. Good real estate agents also spend time away from the office finding out more about the houses in their town that might one day be up for sale.

Agents often work more than 40 hours a week. They often must work in the evening or on weekends. This is because most buyers and sellers are free only at those times.

How do you get read to become a real estate agent?

Real estate agents must have a license from the State in which they work. To get a license, a person must have graduated from high school. The person must be at least 18 years old and pass a written test. In some States, a person who wants to be a real estate agent must go to a special school for a few months. Sometimes it helps to take some college courses about real estate. This is because the process of selling a house can be hard to understand.

Good real estate agents must get along well with buyers and sellers. It helps if real estate agents are pleasant and dress neatly. They should be well organized and be able to remember people's names. They should deal honestly with people and have good manners. They must also be very eager to sell houses, which is sometimes a lot of hard work.

How much does a real estate agent make?

Most real estate agents do not get a regular paycheck. Instead, they get part of the money that the home buyer pays to the home seller when a house is sold. This means that agents who sell more houses earn more money. It also means that agents who sell more expensive houses earn more.

The middle half of all real estate agents earned between $21,010 and $52,860 a year in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $15,480. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $83,780 a year.

The middle half of all real estate brokers earned between $29,240 and $90,170 a year in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $17,290. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $145,600 a year.

How many jobs are there?

Real estate agents and brokers held about 407,000 jobs in 2002. Many work part time, and have other jobs as well.

Most real estate agents work in large cities. Many also work in smaller cities that are growing quickly. This is because there are more houses being bought and sold in such places.

What about the future?

The number of jobs for real estate agents is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through the year 2012. This is partly because more information about real estate is available on the Internet. This allows agents to conduct more business in less time, so fewer agents are needed.

It should be rather easy to find a job as a real estate agent. This is because many agents find that they cannot sell enough houses to be successful, so they quit their jobs. Only people who enjoy selling, and are good at it, should try to become real estate agents.

Are there other jobs like this?

  • Insurance sales agents
  • Retail salespersons (car salespersons, etc.)
  • Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing
  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents
  • Travel agents
Where can you find more information?

More information about real estate brokers and sales agents can be found in the Careers Database.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

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