A real estate agent is a person who helps people either sell their property or purchase property. The property usually is a house, but it also might be another type of structure or empty land. An agent must know the market value of properties, be able to evaluate positive and negative aspects of properties, know how to advertise and know how to negotiate a sale. He or she also often works with financial institutions to help people get the loans they need to be able to buy properties. The agent typically works on commission and will earn a small percentage of each sale that he or she helps complete.
To help someone buy a house, the agent first must find out what type of house the client wants, the price of house the buyer can afford as well as all of the locations that would be acceptable. Then, usually using a networking system that exists for home sales, the agent then identifies for-sale properties that fit the necessary criteria. He or she will take the client to many sites for first-hand looks at the houses, explain the positive and negative features of each, give estimates of fair values for the properties and answer any questions the client might have. If the buyer decides to make an offer on a house, the agent helps choose an offer price and makes the offer to the seller's agent.
Before a purchase can be completed, the agent usually must work with other professionals in the real estate industry to ensure that all of the paperwork has been completed properly and the client has the necessary funding. This might involve working with bank managers or lenders, home assessors and mortgage brokers. The agent then arranges a meeting where the client will sign all of the paperwork and receive the keys to his or her new home.
When a client wants to sell a house, the real estate agent helps set a price. The asking price is often based on recent sales of similar homes in the same area. An agent also will advise the clients about how to prepare the house for display to make it as appealing as possible to potential buyers, such as keeping it clean, giving rooms simple decorations, making basic repairs and painting walls. The agent then advertises the home to other agents and the general public.
When someone is interested in the house, the agent arranges to show it to the potential buyer, often working with the buyer's real estate agent. Agents also might hold open houses — periods of time when anyone is invited to walk through the for-sale homes and ask questions or get information from the agents. When an offer is made on a house, the agent will advise the client about whether to accept it and will process the sale if the offer is accepted.
Training and Licensing
A real estate agent usually is formally trained during special classes for the job, but on-the-job training is common as well. In most places, a person must pass an examination that allows him or her to become licensed. Someone who is licensed can legally work as a real estate agent only in the jurisdiction that issued the license. A college degree usually is not required to be an agent, but many jurisdictions require a person to be of at least a certain age to become licensed. A background check is often necessary as well.