What does a Realtor (Real Estate Agent) do?

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A real estate agent is hired by a client to help them buy, sell, or rent out a property. They assist through the entire buying and selling process including price advice using comparative market research, negotiating a price that the buyer and seller agree on, and ensure all documents are accurate and submitted in time.

Watch a video to learn what a real estate agent does:

How to Become a Realtor

Step 1: Research your State’s Requirements

Ultimately, you need to earn your real estate license to become a real estate agent. However, each state has its own minimum requirements you’ll need to meet to get your license. Most states require you to be at least 18 years old, have earned your high school diploma or GED, and are a U.S. citizen. You may also need to pass a background check.

Step 2: Take Real Estate Courses

Your state could require you to complete their pre-licensing courses but they could also wave that requirement if you take college courses in real estate. These courses prepare you to pass the licensure exam and cover real estate law, finance, economics, and business. It is becoming more common for employers to hire agents that have taken real estate courses or have earned a degree in real estate as the market can be competitive.

Step: Pass the License Exam

When you’re ready, you’ll sit for your state’s real estate licensure examination. This exam generally lasts a few hours and is in multiple-choice format. If you’re interested to see the scope of topics covered, check out the State of California’s, Department of Real Estate: Examination Description (link opens in a new tab). If you want to practice as a realtor in another state, you will need to reapply for your license.

Job Description of a Realtor


Realtors provide details of property for listing or buying, such as, location, features, size and price. They advertise property and hold open houses and show renters or buyers the property of interest. He or she negotiates the sale between buyer and seller, ensures all terms of purchase are met and prepare all documents needed to finalize the transaction, like, purchase agreements, deeds and loyalty contracts.

A realtor should remain current on the real estate market and be familiar with local communities. Examples may include what schools there are, crime rate, and shopping that may be in the area. They need to have knowledge of zoning, government programs, fair housing laws, and financing options. They need business skills, interpersonal and organizational skills and problem-solving abilities.

Realtors should feel comfortable talking to individuals, have strong time management skills, and have good interpersonal abilities. Due to a competitive market, one must also be assertive, but at all times have a professional demeanor and keep their clients interest in mind. Over half of realtors are self-employed and work in office settings. However they often times are showing homes or properties, therefore traveling and being on the road is common. In addition, they work full time, but many work more than 40 hours. Weekends, evenings, and holidays are required to accommodate buyers and client’s schedules.

Real Estate Career Video Transcript

Whether they represent the people who want to buy property or those who have property to sell, real estate brokers and sales agents help clients find the property they’re looking for, and complete successful transactions. Most agents and brokers work with either homes or business properties. They show properties to customers, travel to see properties for sale, and meet with potential clients. They also present purchase offers and manage negotiations between buyers and sellers.

Agents and brokers invest a lot of time looking for clients, and for property to sell. Real estate sales agents must work for brokers, who are licensed and own their own businesses. Agents earn a commission from the sales they make. Many brokers operate a real estate office, handling business details and overseeing the work of sales agents. Many real estate sales agents and brokers work over 40 hours per week including evenings and weekends. Some work part-time and set their own hours, combining real estate activities with other careers. Licensure is required for all brokers and agents, along with state-accredited coursework.

In most states, a broker’s license requires from one to three years’ experience as a licensed real estate sales agent. Some employers prefer candidates who have a college degree with courses in real estate, business, finance, law and economics.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents.

National Center for O*NET Development. 41-9022.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

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