So, You Want to be a Real Estate Agent?

Published Wednesday, September 7, 2022

One of the most important financial events in a person’s life is the purchase or sale of a home or investment property. As a result, they usually seek the help of a real estate professional or agent when buying or selling real estate.

An Illinois real estate agent may be a licensed sponsoring broker, licensed broker or licensed real estate managing broker. A broker (individual) is any person who is employed directly or indirectly by a licensed sponsoring broker (business entity). The broker receives compensation for performing certain acts such as selling, offering to sell, buying, offering to buy, negotiating the purchase, sales exchange of real estate, negotiating leases thereof or improvements thereon.  A real estate broker must work under the direction of a real estate managing broker at all times. A sponsoring broker is one who acts as an intermediary between parties to a transaction. A real estate sponsoring broker is a properly licensed party (individual, corporation or partnership) who, for a valuable consideration or promise of consideration, serves as a special agent to others to facilitate the sale or lease of real property.

The majority of real estate brokers specialize in residential real estate and must have a thorough knowledge of the real estate market in their community, know which neighborhoods will best fit clients' needs and budgets, be familiar with local zoning and tax laws and know where to obtain financing. Brokers also act as an intermediary in price negotiations between buyers and sellers. Real estate brokers are usually independent contractors who provide their services to the sponsoring broker on a contracted basis. In return, the sponsoring broker pays the broker a portion of the commission earned from the broker's sale of the property. A managing broker may be a self-employed sponsoring broker (manage a sole proprietorship) or be employed by a sponsoring broker to manage that sponsoring broker’s associated licensed brokers.

There is more to a real estate broker's job than just making sales. They must also have properties to sell. Consequently, they spend a significant amount of time obtaining listings, which are owner agreements to place properties for sale, with their brokerage firm. When listing a property for sale, brokers compare the listed property with similar properties that have recently sold to determine its competitive market price. Once the property is sold, the broker who sold the property and the broker who obtained the listing both receive a portion of the commission.

Most real estate brokers sell residential property. However, a smaller number usually employed by large or specialized firms, sell commercial, industrial, or other types of real estate. Every specialty requires knowledge of that particular type of property and clientele. Selling or leasing business property requires an understanding of leasing practices, business trends, and location needs. Real estate agents who sell or lease industrial properties must know about the region's transportation, utilities, and labor supply. Whatever the type of property, the broker must know how to meet the client's particular requirements.

Before showing residential properties to potential buyers, agents meet with buyers to get a feeling for the type of home the buyers would like. In this pre-qualifying phase, the agent determines how much buyers can afford to spend. An agent or broker uses a computer to generate lists of properties for sale, their location and description, and available sources of financing. Brokers may meet several times with prospective buyers to discuss and visit available properties. They identify and emphasize the most pertinent selling points. To a young family looking for a house, they may emphasize the convenient floor plan, the area's low crime rate, and the proximity to schools and shopping centers. To a potential investor, they may point out the tax advantages of owning a rental property and the ease of finding a renter. If bargaining over terms becomes necessary, brokers must carefully follow their client's instructions and may have to present counteroffers to put together an acceptable contract. Once both parties have signed the contract, the real estate broker must see to it that all special terms of the contract are met before the closing date. For example, the broker must make sure the mandated and agreed-to inspections including the home, termite, and radon inspections, take place. Also, if the seller agrees to any repairs, the broker or agent must make sure they are completed.  

Real estate firms come in different sizes and range from relatively small to larger ones that have several hundred agents operating out of numerous branch offices. Many brokers have franchise agreements with national or regional real estate organizations. Under this type of arrangement, the broker pays a fee in exchange for the privilege of using the more widely known name of the parent organization. Although franchised brokers often receive help training sales staff and running their offices, they bear the ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of their firm. Many firms offer formal training programs for both beginner and experienced brokers. Larger firms usually offer more extensive programs than smaller firms.

Those interested in jobs as real estate brokers often begin in their own communities. Their knowledge of local neighborhoods is a clear advantage. Under the direction of an experienced broker, beginners learn the practical aspects of the job, including the use of software needed to locate or list available properties and identify sources of financing.

Not everyone is successful in this highly competitive field but well-trained, ambitious, motivated, persistent people who enjoy selling will most likely have the best chance for success.  You must be a self-starter with the ability to plan accordingly and more importantly, work your plan. Above all, you must be able to handle rejection. If those characteristics describe you, selling real estate just might be the career for you! The real estate field is a career FILLED with exciting opportunities and there is always something new to learn. It provides the opportunity to help others, take advantage of your personal strengths, gain security and give you the chance to have a life of freedom and independence.

It all starts with a license.
If you are passionate about real estate, interested in investing in real estate, or just looking for a new career with growth potential, a real estate license could be the right move.  People can get started in real estate investing without a license and do ok. But those who want to take their investments to the next level, have control of their assets, build their network, and have direct access to the MLS need to get realtor training and get their real estate license.

Does this sound like you? If so, give us a call at 630-844-0222 or check out our Real Estate Courses link on the main page to get started in real estate today and build your new career now!  We would love to help you get there.



Edited by Mike Fair, director of Your House Real Estate Academy

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents, at (visited August 1, 2022).

**We also have an exciting event coming up! It is an Exploring Commercial Real Estate Brokerage Workshop with guest speakers from GC Realty & Development, LLC on Saturday, September 24 from 9am - 12pm.  Click here for more information and to register  It is an event you don't want to miss!

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  • Meet the Author: Vince DePaul

    Vince DePaul Vince DePaul is Director of Your House Academy. Vince began his real estate career in 1976 and is a real estate broker and a licensed real estate and continuing education instructor. He has taught real estate at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois for several decades. For ten years he produced and hosted a weekly, live call-in radio broadcast in Chicago called “Your House” where he was known as “Mr. Real Estate.” In 2015, Vince received the prestigious Educator of the Year award from the Association of Illinois Real Estate Educators (AIREE). More about Vince »

A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, (NAR) the largest trade group in the country.

Every agent is not a REALTOR®.  You become a REALTOR® after you pass your real estate course, pass the state license exam, join a real estate company and then join the National Association of REALTORS®.

According to the NAR, the term REALTOR has one, and only one, meaning:
"REALTOR® is a federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics."

Michael Fair, President and Director of Your House Academy is an NAR member.