Becoming a Real Estate Professional. It’s Not Just About Brokerage

Most people view real estate professional as brokers only. While brokers and sales agents are in fact the core of most real estate activities, there are several other lucrative areas in real estate that do not require sales skills. However, almost all real estate activities are regulated by state agencies and require minimum experience and/or academic competencies to qualify for a license. Also, while many real estate professionals make fixed salaries, the income for a great deal of real estate professionals is dependent on the volume of work, effort and value of transactions involved.

1.)  Real Estate Sales Agent:  These are professionals who are licensed to perform real estate agency services, meaning they can represent buyers or sellers in a real estate transaction. In addition to showing homes, real estate agents typically write-up real estate offers (or reviews offers), quote prices, ensures disclosures are obtained from sellers and uphold their fiduciary responsibilities to their clients in a fair and ethical manner. Agents also coordinate with all parties involved in a transaction, including principals, other brokers, lenders, inspectors, escrow officers, etc. Every practicing real estate sales agent must be employed by a broker. Typically, real estate agents need to take a minimum number of courses and pass an exam to become licensed. However, there are usually no working experience requirements. Some real estate sales agents focus their work specialized real estate activities such as leasing activities, whether it’s the leasing of residential units, office or retail space. Others specialize in selling different types of owner-ships such as vacation timeshares.

2.)  Real Estate Broker:  The key difference between a broker and an agent is that a broker can start their own company and employ real estate agents. Brokers are required to demonstrate a minimum experience and academic competency before being licensed as such.

3.)  Real Estate Appraiser:  People who are licensed to appraise and assign a monetary value for real properties.  There are different license levels for appraisals. There can be appraisal trainees, which is typically an entry level that requires a license but no experience and usually involves working under the supervision of a certified appraiser. Then there are residential appraisers, who can conduct their own appraisals for residential properties from 1-4 units, but only within a certain monetary value. Certified residential appraisers can perform any residential appraisals, regardless of value. Certified General Appraisers can perform appraisals on commercial properties.

4.)  Mortgage Broker:  Helps clients obtain real estate loans, including negotiations with lenders. Typically, this involves a license, but no prior working experience.

5.)  Escrow Officer:  A person acting a a neutral third party in real estate transaction, including holding payments until all parties perform their contractual obligations and overseeing the successful transfer of ownership/title. Requirements vary by state.

6.)  Property Manager/Asset Manager: Property managers are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a property, including rent collections, bill payments, qualifying prospective tenants and overseeing maintenance requests. Licensing for property managers varies by state. One way property managers can differentiate themselves is by obtaining a credential, including Certified Property Manager (CPM), Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), Residential Property Manager (RPM) and a Certified Apartment Manager (CAM). There are several other subcategories of property manager credentials.

7.)  Home Inspector:  Inspects homes and issues a report for their clients, who are usually buyers or lenders. Home inspection is a very hands-on job with some physical requirements.  Licensing requirements vary by state.

8.)  Misc. Real Estate Jobs:  There are many other real estate jobs that are becoming more and more in demand such as Lease Administrators, Real Estate Project Managers, Real Estate Attorneys, Home Staging Experts, etc.