How To Become a Real Estate Agent
Updated 22 August 2023
Becoming a real estate agent is an excellent career option for anyone interested in the property market and helping people. Before starting your job search, it's important to understand the education and training that real estate agents require. Real estate agents need industry experience, qualifications and licensing. In this article, we discuss what real estate agents do and how you can become one.
What is a real estate agent?
A real estate agent is a property industry professional who helps clients buy, sell and rent properties. They help clients find properties to rent or buy that match their needs and help clients find tenants or buyers for their properties. They also negotiate with buyers and sellers and prepare contracts finalising their deals. Most real estate agents specialise in either residential or commercial real estate. Common duties for real estate agents include:
Hosting open houses
Accompanying potential buyers and tenants inspecting properties
Inspecting rental properties and reporting any damage, necessary repairs and lease violations
Promoting available properties and recent sales through brochures and online and print property listings
Researching the local property market and using data to appraise new properties and advise clients about current conditions
Developing a network of solicitors, financial institutions and tradespeople and promoting their services to clients
Average salary of a real estate agent
The national average salary of a real estate agent is $120,847 per year, according to Indeed's salary guide. Yearly income can vary depending on a real estate agent's experience and location. Real estate agents in the following states and territories all earn more than the national average:
Australian Capital Territory: $250,000 per year
Northern Territory: $250,000 per year
Tasmania: $250,000 per year
Western Australia: $214,693 per year
South Australia: $213,717 per year
Queensland: $210,209 per year
Victoria: $144,301 per year
Steps to become a real estate agent
Becoming a real estate agent requires property industry experience, training and licensing. Follow these steps to start working as a real estate agent:
1. Meet the minimum age and character requirements
Handling property is a serious responsibility, so real estate agents must be at least 18 years of age and of good character. If you are not yet 18, working as a receptionist in a real estate agency can teach you about the industry. It will also help you make contacts before you can pursue a career as a real estate agent.
Character requirements vary between states and territories. Most authorities want people who have not committed serious criminal offences in the last five to 10 years. Some states and territories also require real estate agents to be financially stable. In other words, you should have a record free of bankruptcy or debt agreements and good credit history.
Read more: 25 best jobs for mature aged workers
2. Earn a real estate qualification
Completing work experience helps you enrol in a real estate course. These courses teach you what you need to know about working as a real estate agent and earning your real estate licence. The leading course for each state and territory is as follows:
New South Wales: Certificate IV in Real Estate Practice (CPP41419). This certificate will officially replace the Certificate IV in Property Services (Real Estate) (CPP40307) in October 2021. Until that time, many providers will continue to offer the original course. Both certificates are nationally recognised, so it doesn't matter too much which one you complete.
Queensland: Property Services Training Package (CPP07)
South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory: Diploma of Property Services (Agency Management) (CPP50307)
Victoria: Certificate IV in Property Services (Real Estate) (CPP40307)
Get your qualifications from a registered training organisation, such as TAFE, the Australian Institute of Workplace Training or Property Training Australia. These are nationally-recognised training providers, so their qualifications will help you work as a real estate agent anywhere. Many training institutions have online study options as well as traditional classroom instruction. Completing these courses takes approximately one year.
3. Complete work experience in the real estate industry
In the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales, aspiring real estate agents must work full time within the real estate industry for one or two years before applying for their real estate licence. While you are studying or after graduating, you might work in one of these roles:
Assistant agent in real estate, sales and leasing
Note that in New South Wales, aspiring real estate agents must work as assistant agents in real estate, sales and leasing for at least one year. While most entry-level jobs in other states and territories don't require qualifications, assistant agents need an Assistant Agent certificate, available through the Service NSW website.
Many people apply for their real estate licence as soon as they gain enough workplace experience. However, any relevant work experience gained in the three years before applying for a licence qualifies.
4. Get professional indemnity insurance
Professional indemnity insurance protects real estate agents against financial loss from lawsuits lodged against them. You may need professional indemnity insurance if your clients slander your good name, for example. In some places, you also need this insurance to get a real estate licence, including New South Wales and Tasmania.
Other types of insurance coverage, such as personal accident and sickness cover, can boost your protection. Real estate agents planning to freelance may also want business cover, such as public liability insurance and commercial property insurance. Real estate agents interested in multiple policies may qualify for a discounted bundled policy.
5. Obtain your real estate licence or registration
You must obtain a real estate licence or registration to become a real estate agent. Licensing and registration requirements vary between states and territories, but real estate qualifications from a registered training school are always essential. You will also need to submit identification, such as a copy of your birth certificate or passport, to your local state or territory government, either online or in person.
Getting and maintaining your real estate licence or registration incurs a small annual fee. Real estate agents in New South Wales must contribute to the Property Services Compensation Fund each year to get and maintain their licences.
Note that your real estate licence entitles you to work within your local state or territory. If you move to another state or territory, you will need to apply for a new licence.
6. Apply for real estate agent roles
Once you have your licence or registration, you can start working as a real estate agent. If you have already been working as an agent's representative, your real estate agency may promote you. Alternatively, you may seek work at a different real estate agency. Every agency has a unique character and focus, such as commercial real estate or luxury homes, so do your research to find the best fit for your personality and interests.
While some employers favour experienced candidates, many are more interested in your ability to sell yourself to them. The way you promote your talents and skills suggests how effectively you could promote properties. Remember this and focus on selling yourself in your cover letter and resume, and showing confidence in your interviews.
7. Join a professional organisation and participate in its initiatives
The best real estate agents continue learning throughout their careers. Joining a professional organisation, such as the National Real Estate Association or the Real Estate Institute of Australia, is one of the best ways to access ongoing educational opportunities. These groups host webinars, networking events and conferences throughout the year. As only members can participate, joining in is a great way to gain exclusive knowledge and separate yourself from other real estate agents.
Real estate agent FAQs
If you think working as a real estate agent is the right career for you, the answers to these frequently asked questions can teach you more about the job.
What skills do real estate agents use?
Real estate agents use communication skills when promoting properties and negotiating for property owners, buyers and tenants. Their understanding of real estate laws and the local property market helps them give clients the best advice. Their customer service skills, including responsiveness to correspondence and commitment to client happiness, ensure each person they deal with feels valued.
Read more: Preparing for the future of work
What qualities make someone a successful real estate agent?
Real estate agents are usually confident people who enjoy being around and helping others. They enjoy talking to clients and getting to know their likes and dislikes, their needs and their motivations. Their persistence and empathy helps them match buyers and tenants with the right properties.
Read more: Guide: 16 personality types
What is the demand for real estate agents?
There should be moderate growth in opportunities for real estate agents. Job Outlook predicts there will be 98,800 real estate agents working in the country in 2024, up from 92,400 in 2019. Strong population growth, low interest rates and growing demand for regional properties should increase opportunities for real estate agents.
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