How to Get Started in Real Estate

RE-tycoonReal estate careers have expanded and do not include only real estate agents who help home buyers and sellers in the residential market and know how to sell a house, but include a variety of jobs in real estate: commercial brokers, appraisers, brokers dealing in farmland and industrial properties, property management specialists, financial and mortgage consultants, investment property specialists, new homes sales consultants, urban planners, real estate counselors, and research specialists. You have to analyze what each job requires and what will be the right fit for you. The question “How to get started in Real Estate” depends heavily on what type of the real estate career path you will choose.

The advantages of some of real estate careers are self-evident: you can work at your own pace, set your own hours and be your own boss while there are no limits on how much you can potentially earn. It requires self-discipline, motivation, and continuous education to become a successful real estate agent. Starting a real estate career can mean autonomy, financial freedom, high earnings, and constant intellectual challenge for the right goal-oriented individual.

Though there is no course that can teach you everything you need to know on how to become a successful Realtor, there are certain educational and licensing requirements that have to be met in order to enter into real estate profession. Specific educational courses can vary from state to state but all states require that a prospective sales person should pass a written exam. Most of the states require that students take accredited pre-licensing real estate courses before they are allowed to take an exam. All states are upgrading their licensing policies all the time so it is important to familiarize yourself with all the licensing requirements beforehand.

Most of the newly licensed real estate agents start in a big or small brokerages where they can choose most suitable environment and change firms, as they wish. As they gain experience and expertise, they can take the nest step and become real estate brokers after additional education courses and passing the broker’s exam. Brokers can own their real estate business and employ sales people. While it opens new horizons for independence and brings potentially bigger real estate broker salary, it also means bigger responsibilities and liabilities.

The other options for new licensees can include a job with a successful real estate agent who employs a team of specialists: transaction coordinators, property managers, buyer’s agents, marketing specialists, office assistants, etc. Other possibilities may include an office manager for a brokerage, escrow officer or processor in the mortgage firm or bank division specializing on real estate loans.


How to Get Started in Real Estate Residential Brokerage

The real estate sales person dedicated to helping people buy and sell homes is one of the most common real estate careers and something that comes to mind when we say “real estate agent.” Almost all of us dealt with real estate agent at one time in our life either renting or buying a place to live and we appreciate when they are professional, knowledgeable and share their expertise in real estate laws, financing, local economics, and government programs. Without them we’ll be lost in all the intricacies of real estate transaction, with all its contingencies, inspections, repairs, negotiations, and paperwork.

But it also means that to be successful real estate agents that bring expertise to the table, they have to be continuously educating themselves on ever-changing laws and regulations of real estate and at the same time constantly improving their marketing skills in the evolving world of social and web media. When technology is rapidly changing the structure of many businesses, real estate is not exempt. Most of the real estate searches are starting online and that means that real estate agents have to educate themselves in the basics of information technology, search engines optimization, and keyword searches. Computers changed the traditional escrow process into a secure paperless transaction so agents that are not familiar with latest computer programs for real estate or are afraid to make a change, do not have future in the bold new world.

Careers in Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate brokers specialize in leasing, selling and buying of properties used for businesses and industrial manufacturing. Sales associates need to understand the structure of different types of businesses and determine application of variables such transportation, proximity to resources, labor, local building and zoning codes, and tax laws.

If you think that commercial real estate means fast money and minimal hours, this career is not for you. Commission is the primary source of income, while some firms will offer small supplemental salary or let you draw salary against future commissions. Commercial agent will usually retain 3% on all sales and lease agreements while brokerage will keep 30-40% of that fee, typically paid 30-60 days after closing. Commercial real estate deals can be extremely complex and are usually time-consuming, taking anywhere from 6 months to a year from start to closing. So a back–up fund covering up to a year of essential expenses is very important for every commercial real estate agent, especially the one just starting in the business.

Educational requirements for commercial real estate may include 60-90 hours of coursework before the written exam to obtain license. Many of them can be completed as real estate courses online or through local colleges. Bachelor degree in real estate may by-pass this requirement and is preferable. Continuing education is needed to renew commercial real estate license every two or four years, depending on state’s licensing requirements.

Successful commercial real estate agents have a wide social circle that includes society power players. You would have to be outgoing, energetic and able to convince total strangers to trust you with millions of dollars of their money invested in a transaction that can potentially go wrong. In a addition to sales skills, commercial agent needs to have a vast knowledge of global economy and trends of a local market place with thorough understanding of financing and tax laws. If you are patient, outgoing, knowledgeable and prone to distractions of a hectic, fast-paced office environment, this career is right for you.

Careers in Farm and Land Brokerage

Farm and land sales persons deals with acquisition of land for farming, residential, commercial or industrial expansions and would have to poses special knowledge in all of these fields. Farm and land broker is a complex niche in real estate that requires knowledge of local zoning laws, environmental issues, crop rotations, weather cycles, water and mineral rights as well as urban development trends, costs of development, government land regulations and tax laws. In addition to all the specific knowledge, successful farm and land brokerage has to be skilled in corporate negotiations and specialized marketing. Some of the most typical transactions will include buying and selling land for farms and ranches, sales of undeveloped tracts of land for further development and urban growth, sales of land marked for repurpose (such as new developments in place of closed military bases), subdivision and lot wholesaling (for future commercial and residential use) and site location and assembling parcels (for example, a major retail chain acquiring a big piece of land from multiple sellers). All these transactions present numerous complexities and require specialized knowledge, so it is not rare to see farm and land brokerages targeting specific niche of the real estate business.

How to Get Started in Real Estate Appraising

appraisals-powerReal estate appraisers determine the value of real estate properties. These values can differ based on the purpose of the appraisal: assessed value for tax purposes, replacement value for insurance purposes, market value for resale, investment value for investors, asset value for accounting or income value for rental evaluation.

In order to become a real estate appraiser, the applicant must complete certain amount of education hours and obtain a trainee’s license. As a trainee your pay will be minimal until you complete a certain amount of trainee hours, so it will be beneficial to find one a several appraisers that will be your supervisors at the time of training and teach you the basics. The other option would be to get a job at the bank who hire trainee appraisers with license and no experience. The more work you do as a trainee, the faster you’ll complete required hours of trainee experience.

It is also advised to get a real estate sales associate license so you can get access to local MLS for comparable sales, though you may not intend to perform sales duties. Some MLS boards will allow paid access to affiliates such a appraisers and assistants without real estate license.

Certified Residential Appraiser must complete 200 hours of education and 2,500 experience hours and pass the exam administered by the jurisdiction that awards appraiser’s license. In addition to requirements, individuals seeking to become a real estate appraiser must be comfortable in applying a practical knowledge in math, economics, statistics, and real estate construction. This profession requires lots of travel, real estate inspections, data input, value assessment, and compiling reports.

Careers in Property Management

Property manager’s primarily set of duties includes maintaining the income-producing investment property so it will net the highest return on investment for a longest period of time while minimizing the expenses. Investment properties can be commercial (office buildings, retail complexes) or residential (apartment buildings, condominium properties, vacation rentals or single family homes owned by investors) as well as health care facilities, senior housing projects, government-subsidized public housing complexes.
Property manager’s duties typically include a variety of activities related to all aspects of leasing a property, maintenance of the property and its grounds, keeping all financial records including tax information and marketing a property when it becomes vacant to ensure its full rental capacity.

To become a successful property manager take courses in management, accounting, business administration, tax laws and finance aiming for a bachelor degree, as it provides better employment opportunities. Become a certified property manager taking certification courses aimed on best managing techniques for commercial and residential properties, business practices, and leasing and rental laws. Many states require that property managers are licensed, so check with National Property Management Association for regulations in your state.

Try to find a job as an assistant property manager at the real estate office that handles rental properties or specialized property management company. This will give you valuable experience to learn about all the duties without assuming entire responsibilities. Your duties may include collecting rent, assessing late fees or coordinating repairs and cleaning.

While you become more experienced, you can even purchase and manage your own rental properties, while taking care of all aspects: marketing, credit checks and applications, financial records, tax and mortgage payments, maintenance and cleaning after tenants. Professionally managing your own investment property can yield good income while providing freedom and schedule and flexibility.

Career in Urban Planning

Career as an urban planner is one of the many possibilities for a real estate professional interested in improving the environment and creating communities while focusing on efficient utilization of available resources. Urban planners will study urban growth, anticipate the areas of further development and create plans for future use of land in cities, suburbs, counties, and municipal areas. Behind every planned neighborhood, expanding business, downtown area or an open lot there is an urban planner working on how to best to improve the community and work with existing surroundings. As economy grows and cities develop and urban planners will be always needed to accommodate growing population and revitalize established communities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of urban and regional planners will grow 16% by the year 2020.

An advanced degree is required for most urban planner positions, usually master’s degree from an accredited planning program. Applicants who enter these master’s programs will typically have a bachelor degree in economics, political science, geography, or environmental studies. Entry level planners will also need 1-2 years of work experience in architectural firm, public policy or economical institute. Students can gain real-life experience through internships in related fields while finishing their education.

Besides professional education, urban planners should posses certain skills and abilities: strong speaking and writing skills to communicate their reports to wide variety of audiences including public officials and community members; analytical skills to analyze statistical data from market research data, census and environmental impact studies; decision-making and management skills to choose appropriate plan of actions and make sure that it is accomplished in time.

How to Get Started in Real Estate Counseling

Career in real estate counseling is considered a pinnacle of real estate careers, as to become a counselor you have to be an experienced, knowledgeable and respected leader in the field of real estate, recognized by your peers. Among real estate counselors there are brokers, appraisers, land planners, accountants, attorneys specializing in real estate, property managers, bankers and real estate executives. Real estate counselors provide paid services advising on all matters of real estate, including sales, purchasing investment properties, land development, etc. There is an exclusive organization of The Counselors of Real Estate with only 1100 members word-wide. Membership to CRE is extended by invitation only and be considered as a member you have to be recognized by your peers, clients and employers for the combined scope of professional expertise, leadership, impeccable judgment and integrity.

Real estate counseling is not considered a specific discipline, such as brokerage, management or appraisal. Rather, real estate counseling is a process that requires an extensive range and depth of knowledge, technical competency, unbiased analysis, critical inquiry and trust. Its purpose is to provide objective guidance that achieves results in the best interests of a client or employer in all matters of real estate: location, international real estate, financing, enterprise management, investment analysis, planning, feasibility, tax consulting, mergers, and acquisitions. Strategic real estate decision-making depends on excellence in real estate counseling.

Career in Real Estate Research

Real estate research analysts primarily are employed by firms specializing in economic research focusing on real estate demands, all aspects of financing. population growth, local market trends, investment analysis and physical real estate research dealing with construction engineering, efficiency, building materials selection, and safety issues. Real estate researchers contribute to decision-making process of many other real estate professionals: brokers, investors, property managers, urban planners, and real estate counselors.

When pursuing entry-level work, real estate analysts typically posses a bachelor degree in economics, finance, engineering, public safety or related field depending on the chosen specialization. Many real estate research analysts will obtain real estate license in order to gain experience in real estate field. Background in residential or commercial real estate sales is a must for a successful career in real estate research. Some employers may require a professional certification from candidates such as Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) offered by CCIM institute. Key skills include excellent communication skills, analytical skills and familiarity with professional computer software.

A typical day of the real estate researcher starts early with reading of all available resources on latest news and local market trends in the respective sphere of expertise, preparing a report for current or prospective client, face-time at the office, meeting with clients and may extend past the end of the business day to participate in formal or informal networking activities.

In conclusion, knowing how to get started in real estate’s different fields may offer an easier path to a job of your dreams that will provide income, flexibility, and freedom in a challenging environment and help shape lives and future of our communities.