Real estate brokers facilitate the buying and selling of real estate, and act as intermediaries in price negotiations between buyers and sellers. They are independent businesspeople who sell real estate owned by others, and sometimes rent or manage properties. They arrange meetings between buyers and sellers in which transaction and possession details are agreed upon. They may also help arrange financing from a lender for the buyer, assume responsibility for closing the sale, supervise real estate agents, manage their own office, advertise properties, or even sell insurance or practice law. Because they need to have properties to sell, they spend a large amount of time finding and obtaining agreements from owners to sell their property, known as listings. Most sell residential property, while a small number specialize in commercial, industrial, agricultural, or other categories. Once a sales contract is signed by the buyer and seller, the broker must ensure that all the special terms in the contract are met before the closing date.
Real estate brokers must be honest, mature, tactful, trustworthy, and enthusiastic toward their job. They must be able to motivate and persuade customers. They need to be well organized, detail oriented, and have a great memory of names, faces, and business details. Employers look for candidates who have a pleasant personality and a neat appearance.
In 2002, real estate brokers had median annual earnings of $50,330. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $17,920, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $145,600. A majority of these earnings came from commissions on sales, which vary according to the type of property sold, and are usually divided among several agents and brokers.
Training and Education
Prospective real estate brokers must obtain a license in every State and the District of Columbia. In order to obtain a license, they must be a high school graduate, at least 18 years old, and pass a written test. The test, which is more comprehensive for brokers than for sales agents, covers basic real estate transactions and laws affecting the sale of property. Candidates for licenses must also complete 60 to 90 hours of classroom instruction, and have 1 to 3 years of experience selling real estate, although this can be waived with the possession of a bachelor’s degree in real estate.
Today, a larger number of real estate brokers are college graduates who have studied real estate, finance, business administration, statistics, economics, law, and English. Junior colleges may also offer an associate degree in real estate. Many companies, especially larger ones, provide formal training programs for both entry-level and experienced employees. Some experienced brokers may open their own firm. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
In 2002, real estate brokers held about 99,000 jobs. 60% were self-employed, and many combined their real estate career with another career by working part-time in real estate.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of real estate brokers is expected to increase more slowly than the average. Information technology will continue to increase the productivity of brokers, limiting job growth. The Internet now allows buyers to search for properties on their own. However, most buyers and sellers will still depend on brokers to coordinate the details of the actual sale. And the growing general population’s housing needs will continue to generate demand. The occupation is relatively easy to enter, due to the flexible working conditions, the high interest in, and knowledge of, local real estate markets that potential employees usually have. Competition will remain keen, though, for new brokers trying to obtain listings and close sales.