Real Estate Sales
Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell and rent properties. Brokers and agents do the same type of work, but brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Sales agents must work with a broker. Because of the complexity of buying or selling a home or commercial property, people often seek help from real estate brokers and sales agents. Although most real estate brokers and sales agents sell residential property, others sell commercial property, and a small number sell industrial, agricultural, or other types of real estate.
Brokers and agents can represent either the buyer or the seller in a transaction. Buyers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to understand what they are looking for and how much they can afford. Sellers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to help them decide how much to ask for and to convince them that the agent or broker can find them a qualified buyer. Real estate brokers and sales agents must be knowledgeable about the real estate market in their area. To match properties to clients’ needs, they should be familiar with local communities, including knowledge of the crime rate and the proximity to schools and shopping. Brokers and agents also must stay current on financing options; government programs; types of available mortgages; and real estate, zoning, and fair housing laws.
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About 57 percent of real estate brokers and sales agents were self-employed. Most of the remainder work in the real estate industry in brokerage offices, leasing offices and other real estate establishments. Workplace size can range from a one-person business to a large firm with numerous branch offices. Many brokers have franchise agreements with national or regional real estate companies. Under this arrangement, the broker pays a fee to be affiliated with a widely known real estate organization. While some real estate brokers and sales agents work in a typical office environment, others are able to telecommute and work out of their homes. In both cases, however, workers spend much of their time away from their desks—showing properties to customers, traveling to see properties for sale and meeting with prospective clients.
Many real estate brokers and sales agents work more than a standard 40-hour workweek. They often work evenings and weekends to accommodate clients' schedules. Additionally, beginners, in particular, may spend a significant amount of time networking and attending community events to meet potential clients. Although they frequently work long or irregular hours, many can set their own schedules. Some brokers and sales agents work part time, often combining their real estate activities with other careers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is expected to grow 11 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment of real estate brokers and agents will grow as the real estate market rebounds from the recent economic recession. Both financial and non-financial factors spur demand for home sales. Real estate is perceived as a good long-term investment, and many people want to own their homes. Population growth and mobility also will continue to stimulate the need for new brokers and agents. In addition to first-time home buyers, people will need brokers and agents when looking for a larger home, relocating for a new job, and other reasons.
The real estate market is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy, and employment of real estate brokers and agents will vary accordingly. In periods of economic growth or stability, employment will grow to accommodate families and individuals looking to buy homes. Alternatively, the amount of work for brokers and agents will slow and employment may decline during periods of declining economic activity or rising interest rates.
Career information courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.