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A Career In Real Estate is Not For the Faint-Hearted

35 - Blog ImageYou might have seen Coldwell Banker Rizzo Mattson signs in front of houses for sale in your neighborhood and thought, "I could do that." But do you have what it takes to be a real estate agent or a broker? The skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary for success in property sales go beyond passing required courses and the state licensing exam.

What Agents and Brokers Do

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. To follow are some of the more important tasks they perform:

o Contacting potential clients and property owners and advertising services to solicit property sales listings o Advising clients on prices, mortgages, market conditions, and other information o Comparing properties to determine a competitive market price o Generating lists of properties for sale o Promoting properties through advertisements, open houses, and listing services o Showing prospective buyers or renters properties o Presenting purchase offers to sellers o Mediating negotiations o Ensuring all terms of purchase contracts are met o Preparing documents such as loyalty contracts, purchase agreements, and deeds o Interviewing clients to determine the kinds of properties they seek o Coordinating closings, oversee signing of documents and disbursement of funds o Arranging for title searches to determine whether clients have clear property titles o Reviewing property listings, trade journals, and relevant literature; attend conventions, seminars, and staff and association meetings to remain knowledgeable

Requirements and Education

In every state and the District of Columbia, real estate brokers and sales agents must be licensed. At minimum, Maine requires licensed sales agents to be high school graduates 18-years-old or older with a "reputation for honesty, truthfulness, fair-dealing, and competency." They must also pass the Sales Agent Course and a licensing examination with minimum final grades of 75%. The license is issued for two years and isn't renewable. The sales agent candidate must have arranged to work with a licensed real estate agency before he or she applies for a license. Maine law requires active sales agents to pass a course to become an associate broker two years after they get their license. Two years later, and upon passing the Designated Broker Course, an active associate broker can apply to become a licensed broker.

Maine Real Estate Commission: Course Schedule and List of Schools

A schedule of courses to qualify an individual for a sales agent license and pre-requisite courses for associate broker and broker licenses, along with schools that offer them.

Maine Real Estate Commission: Sales Agent Course Guidelines and Summary

Among the topics the courses cover are financing, federal and state real estate laws, contracts, property valuations and appraisals, taxes, basic house styles, and construction terminology.

Desirable Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities

The U.S. Government job information database O*NET lists many of these personal characteristics as essential for being a sales agent or a broker, so it's important to gain or strengthen them, which you can also do through on the job experience.


o The market: familiarity with local communities, their crime rates, and the proximity to schools and shopping o Financing: financing options, government programs, types of available mortgages, title charges, closing costs o Laws: fair housing laws, local zoning, IRS income tax laws o sales and marketing: to sell yourself and to sell properties


o Attention to detail o Typing o Writing o Organizing o Listening: giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times o Customer service: actively looking for ways to help clients o Networking: you should be comfortable meeting new people and contacting people you already know; many times you'll have to drum up your own business o Persuasion: you should be able to convince potential clients you can buy and sell properties. o Coordination: adjusting actions in relation to others' actions o Social perceptiveness: being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do o Negotiation: a helpful skill for bringing buyers and sellers together and reconciling differences o Problem-solving: useful to address, often immediately, any concerns clients or potential customers may have with a property o Interpersonal skills: you will spend a lot of time interacting with clients and customers; to attract clients, agents should be pleasant, enthusiastic, and trustworthy o Critical thinking: using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems o Cellphone, computer, and Internet skills


o Deductive reasoning: the ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense o Far vision: an ability to see details at a distance o Problem sensitivity: the ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong o Mobility: you should be in good enough shape to climb stairs and walk clients through properties o Saving: unless you already know buyers, you should prepare for going without a reliable income for six months or more; keep a budget to track your expenses o Self-motivation: the ability to do something without having to be prodded o Persistence: the ability to move forward despite setbacks o A hard work ethic: a desire to work long hours with flexible scheduling

If you believe you have the drive and the traits for success in real estate, pursue your dreams. In the process, you'll eventually be rewarded -- not just financially -- when you help people fulfill their dreams, too.


Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. Your Fabulous Career: Is Real Estate Right for You?

Hibbard, Terri. Former Miss Maine is all business. The Women's Quarterly: Winter 2013. Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel. p. 12

How Stuff Works: Fact or Fiction: Real Estate Agents

How Stuff Works: How to Become a Real Estate Agent

James, Geoffrey. Marketwatch. So you Want to be a Real Estate Agent? Good Luck! August 23, 2011.

Kimmons, James. Top Ten Tips for Being Successful in Becoming a Real Estate Agent. 

Maine Real Estate Commission: Frequently Asked Questions: Sales Agents

Occupational Outlook Handbook. Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents.

O*Net OnLine: Summary Report for: 41-9022.00 - Real Estate Sales Agents. 

Pearson Vue. August 2013. Maine Real Estate Candidate Handbook.

Terkel, Studs. Working: People Talk About What They do All Day and How they Feel About What they Do. New York: The New Press. Brokers: Margaret Richards, pg. 324.

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