How to become a real estate agent


Have you been wondering how to become a real estate agent?  A career in real estate can be both financially and personally rewarding.  There’s no limit on the amount of income you can make and many times it allows you to be there for your family when most jobs do not.  We have put together a guide that will help you navigate your way to obtaining a real estate license and ultimately have a happy and successful career.

1.  Basics to Becoming a Real Estate Agent

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 18 or 19 years old
  • Complete pre-license requirements for your state

2.  Commit to Being Full-Time

Many people dip their toes into real estate and try to work other jobs until they have enough business to take it on full-time.  I understand from a financial perspective why this might seem like a good idea, but in the long run it can actually be a detriment to your business.  If you make the decision to go full-time, your career will flourish faster and you will gain more knowledge about the industry.

3.  Have a Safety Net

Before you get your real estate license, you need to take a hard look at how much money you will need to save.  While you can make more money in real estate than just about any other profession, the funds won’t likely begin to flow for a couple of months.  Most real estate transactions take at least 30 days from the time a contract is signed – some, even months.

We suggest that you have at least 6 months income saved up before quitting your old job.  If you are joining a busy real estate team that is providing you leads, then you may not need to save as much, because you will probably begin to close your first deals in 30 – 60 days.

4. Cost to Get Started in Real Estate

Aside from the money you have saved before you decided to become a real estate agent, you also need to know exactly how much it will cost to get started.  Every state is different, but here’s a quick breakdown of fees you can expect to pay when getting your license.

  • Real Estate School:  $300 – $700
  • Real Estate Test:  $60 – $120
  • Post Licensing Test (if your state requires) $150 – $200
  • Fingerprinting:  $40 – $60
  • Association Fees:  $200 – $500/year
  • MLS Membership:  $150 – $350/year
  • Errors & Omission Insurance:  $300 – $600/year
  • Business Cards:  $50-$100
  • Office fees: $0 – $100/month

If you plan for these fees ahead of time and add this to your savings, it will make your transition into real estate easier.

5.  Choose A Real Estate Company

Even though you aren’t a real estate agent yet, you will want to do your research and decide which company is best suited for you before you get your license.  We chose Keller Williams because of the forward-thinking tech, profit share, referral network and culture and could not be happier with our choice.  We would love to see you join our family, but we also encourage you to do your homework on all the companies so that you know you are making an informed decision.

6.  Online or In-Class Real Estate School

Next, you’ll want to decide whether online or in-class real estate school is the right fit for you.  While online classes can be more convenient, it’s great to have a teacher who can answer questions and explain the numerous laws and nuances of real estate.  Many instructors will also give you a good idea of what material is more likely to be on the state exam, which is insight you won’t receive if you take the class online.  Whatever your decision, it should take a couple of weeks to a couple of months for you to complete real estate school.

7.  Real Estate License State Exam

Once you have completed real estate school, it’s now time to sign up to take the state exam.  Many states give you a limited amount of time to take the test after real estate school, so be sure to check the regulations where you live.  We also suggest taking a cram course right before the exam for extra preparation.  Most real estate schools will offer this for around $100.

8.  Fingerprinting/Background Check

Congratulations!  You’ve passed the state exam.  Nowadays, most states require fingerprinting and background checks with the submission of your real estate application.  The fees for this can range from $40 -$60.

9.  Apply for Your Real Estate License

Now that you’ve completed everything required, it’s time to submit your real estate license application along with any other documents required by your state.  At this point, it is now just a waiting game until you receive your license.  You can expect to wait a few days to a couple of weeks depending on how quickly your state turns around their applications.

10.  Post-License Requirements

You’ve now officially become a real estate agent.  You’re not quite done though, as many states will also require that you take a post license course for new agents within the first 6 months of receiving your license.  There are also some that require you do this before you can apply, so be sure to check with the real estate commission for the area that you live in.

11.  Become a REALTOR or Real Estate Agent?

There is a distinct difference between a realtor and real estate agent.  The only people allowed to use the term realtor, are those who are members of the National Association of Realtors.  While it is not necessary to have this designation as a real estate agent, many companies require it if you work for their brokerage and it does carry some weight with potential clients.

12.  Consider Branding

Branding and marketing is very powerful in any industry.  It’s your way of setting your self apart from everyone else in a memorable way.  If your real estate marketing comes across as more professional than other agents, then most people won’t even think you’re new to the business.

13.  Don’t Be a Secret Agent

Now that you’re a real estate agent, the leads will start to flow right?  Wrong.  You need to create a database of all the people you can think of.  We call this your sphere.  Send out a personalized letter letting everyone know that you are now in real estate.  You will also want to advertise this on social media.  Also, make time to call your sphere everyday and ask if they know of anyone who is thinking of buying or selling.  This is a great way to gain fast traction and secure a few referrals your first year in the business.

14.  Get a CRM

This is one of the most impactful things you can do to ensure success.  Now that you have a database of everyone you know, the first thing you should do is load all their information into a CRM(Customer Relationship Management software).  Follow up is key to having success in real estate and a CRM makes it so much easier to achieve this.  Keller Williams has created their own CRM (Command) which they provide to all of their agents.

15.  Be a Sponge

Try to soak up as much knowledge as you can by following what’s going on in the industry.  You can learn many tricks and tips to make your life easier by visiting websites like Inman News, Curaytor, or podcasts. Real estate is constantly changing with new technology and ideas, so try to stay on top of the latest news and trends.


Now that you know how to become a real estate agent, it’s time to treat your new career as a business and not a hobby.  It’s exciting to see your business grow over the years and it can be very rewarding if you are serious about your success.  We recommend reading “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” which serves as the most comprehensive guide on how to create and sustain a successful real estate business.   The majority of the top agents with Keller Williams model their business after this book, including us.  If you follow everything laid out in this article and use the book as your guide, then you will have no choice but to succeed in real estate.