Benjamin Thompson Kirk: The Reality of Working as a Real Estate Agent
With clients based in the USA, Canada and the UK, Benjamin Thompson Kirk has extensive experience of working in the real estate business. This article looks at the day-to-day duties of a real estate agent, exploring the various different aspects of the job – from reaching new clients to negotiating a sale – and identifying what an agent’s typical day might involve.
The US real estate industry works through brokers and agents: licensed salespeople who assist sellers and buyers throughout a real estate transaction, marketing homes, negotiating on behalf of clients, and communicating with attorneys.
In America today, anyone can exchange real estate, but the process can be extremely complicated, requiring several legal steps. The vast majority of people hire a real estate broker or agent. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 87% of all US homes are bought and sold in this way.
Real estate agents assist in the buying, renting and selling of homes, land and other property. The advent of the internet and digital advancements have changed the landscape of the real estate sector significantly in recent years. However, in the United States today, there is no national real estate license. Instead, agents are required to meet the licensing requirements of the state they operate in, which vary from one state to the next.
All aspiring real estate agents are required to attend a pre-licensing course at an accredited real estate school; pass their state exam; activate their license; and join a brokerage. All agents are required by law to work for a licensed broker whose responsibility it is to ensure that all appointed agents in their office comply with real estate regulations and laws.
Many agents eventually become brokers themselves after gaining the requisite experience and qualifications. Brokers can work independently and hire agents to work for them, and therefore have more responsibilities.
Once a real estate agent becomes involved in a property transaction, the process usually follows a predicable format. The agent takes the lead in terms of negotiating and finalizing the deal, with the sellers and buyers assuming decision-making roles.
One of the most appealing aspects of a career as a real estate agent is that the work can be incredibly varied, with agents meeting many new clients, seeing new places, and responding to evolving buyer and seller needs every day. The real estate business can be incredibly fast-paced, requiring agents to think on their feet and sometimes change tactics at the very last minute.
For a real estate agent no two days are the same, although there are several tasks most agents undertake on a routine basis, such as:
- Responding to phone calls, emails and text messages
- Updating client databases
- Processing lease records, agreements and other real estate documents
- Coordinating showings, meetings, appointments and open houses
- Developing marketing plans for listings
- Researching listings to develop comparative market analysis reports
- Creating and distributing listings, flyers, newsletters and other promotional materials
- Creating monthly, quarterly and annual budgets
- Updating social medial profiles and websites
Many agents hire an assistant to deal with time-consuming administrative duties, enabling the agent to use their time more effectively and ultimately be more productive.
Lead generation is an important aspect of the real estate business. After all, with no buyers or sellers, there would be no transactions or commissions. Finding clients is integral to a real estate agent’s success. Many real estate agents use a sphere of influence (SOI) strategy to build contacts, generating leads via existing contacts the agent already knows such as friends, family, classmates, neighbors, social contacts and business associates.
Most individuals will buy, sell, or rent property at some point during the course of their lives. In effect, this means that every single person an agent comes into contact with in their daily lives is a potential client. Real estate agents typically spend a large proportion of their day networking, handing out business cards to potential new leads and keeping track of contacts in their growing network.
Real estate agents operate out of a broker’s office, working alongside other agents and brokers. These offices typically stage regular meetings, enabling agents to share new listings, update their colleagues on price changes, and discuss the needs of their buyers.
All real estate agents must be licensed in the state they do business in. They must maintain active license status and earn continuing education credits. Most agents pursue real estate certifications to improve their marketability and credentials, improving their proficiency, skills and knowledge in the process.
Agents balance their time between income-producing activities and admin tasks. They are often called away from the office to meet clients, attend show homes, and negotiate on behalf of their clients. Most real estate agents have a long and varied day of responsibilities and duties that can change at very short notice – an aspect that many agents find rather attractive.