What Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents Do
Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell, and rent properties.
Most real estate brokers and sales agents are self-employed. Although they often work irregular hours, many are able to set their own schedules.
How to Become a Real Estate Broker or Sales Agent
Every state requires real estate brokers and agents to be licensed. Requirements vary by state but generally require candidates to be at least 18 years old, complete a number of hours of real estate or college courses, and pass a licensing exam.
The median annual wage for real estate brokers was $59,720 in May 2019.
The median annual wage for real estate sales agents was $48,930 in May 2019.
Employment of real estate brokers and sales agents is projected to grow 2 percent from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations. Demand for these workers will continue, because people turn to real estate brokers and sales agents when looking for a home, such as to buy a larger home or to relocate for a job.
Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell, and rent properties. Although brokers and agents do similar work, brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Sales agents must work with a real estate broker.
Real estate brokers and sales agents typically do the following:
- Solicit potential clients to buy, sell, and rent properties
- Advise clients on prices, mortgages, market conditions, and related information
- Compare properties to determine a competitive market price
- Generate lists of properties for sale, including details such as location and features
- Promote properties through advertisements, open houses, and listing services
- Take prospective buyers or renters to see properties
- Present purchase offers to sellers for consideration
- Mediate negotiations between buyer and seller
- Ensure that all terms of purchase contracts are met
- Prepare documents, such as loyalty contracts, purchase agreements, and deeds
Because of the complexity of buying or selling a residential or commercial property, people often seek help from real estate brokers and sales agents.
Most real estate brokers and sales agents sell residential property. Others sell commercial property, and a small number sell industrial, agricultural, or other types of real estate.
Brokers and agents can represent either the buyer or the seller in a transaction. Buyers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to understand what they are looking for in a property and how much they can afford. Sellers’ brokers and agents meet with clients to help them decide how much to ask for and to convince them that the agent or broker can find them a qualified buyer.
Real estate brokers and sales agents must be knowledgeable about the real estate market in their area. To match properties to clients’ needs, they should be familiar with local communities, including knowing the crime information and the proximity to schools and shopping. Brokers and agents also must stay current on financing options; government programs; types of available mortgages; and real estate, zoning, and fair housing laws.
The following are examples of types of real estate brokers and sales agents:
Real estate brokers are licensed to manage their own businesses. As independent businesspeople, brokers often sell real estate owned by others. In addition to helping clients buy and sell properties, they may help rent or manage properties for a fee. Many operate a real estate office, handling business details and overseeing the work of sales agents.
Real estate sales agents must work with a broker. Sales agents often work for brokers on a contract basis, earning a portion of the commission from each property they sell.
Real estate brokers held about 100,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of real estate brokers were as follows:
|Real estate and rental and leasing||39|
Real estate sales agents held about 376,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of real estate sales agents were as follows:
|Real estate and rental and leasing||35|
Workplace size for real estate brokers and sales agents can range from a one-person business to a large firm with numerous branch offices. Many brokers have franchise agreements with national or regional real estate companies. Under this arrangement, the broker pays a fee to be affiliated with a widely known real estate organization.
Some real estate brokers and sales agents work in a typical office environment, while others work out of their homes. In both cases, real estate workers spend much of their time away from their desks, showing properties to customers, traveling to see properties for sale, and meeting with prospective clients.
Many real estate brokers and sales agents work more than 40 hours per week. They often work evenings and weekends to accommodate clients’ schedules. Many brokers and sales agents spend a significant amount of time networking and attending community events to meet potential clients. Although they frequently work irregular hours, many can set their own schedules.
Some brokers and sales agents work part time and may combine their real estate activities with other careers.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of real estate brokers and sales agents.
Information on licensing requirements for real estate brokers and sales agents is available from most local real estate organizations and from the state real estate commission or board.
For more information about opportunities in real estate, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/real-estate-brokers-and-sales-agents.htm (visited ).