It is January and you want to be a real estate agent

winter in St. Paul
Harriet Island Regional Park

So far this year I have only been contacted by a few people who are interested in getting a real estate license. Probably because there are plenty of jobs out there.

Anyone can buy a house or any kind of real estate for themselves or sell real estate they own. No license is required.

Judging by how often I get asked “who do you work for?” most people are blissfully unaware of the fact that most real estate agents are self-employed 1099 contractors, not W2 type employees with health insurance. Who do I work for? I work for my clients.

Even fewer people understand that all Minnesota licensed real estate agents must work under a Minnesota licensed broker. Real estate companies with agents must have a licensed broker. I just hate it when I have to kill someone’s dream of striking out on their own as a real estate agent.

The broker is responsible for every real estate transaction the agent has. I am the broker for Boardman Realty which is a small local client centered real estate company. Most of the larger real estate companies in the area are national franchises.

Real estate agents only get paid after a successful closing and can only be paid by their broker. Agents work for free until there is a closing and if there is no closing there is no pay.

The broker is the person who collects the commission. Brokers get paid through “commission splits”. That means we keep some of the commission.

Starting out in real estate can be tough. The challenge is to find someone who will let you sell their house or will let you help them buy a house. There are more real estate agents in the metro than there are home sales.

The turn over rate among agents is pretty high during the first year. Typically agents quit because they can’t pay their bills and pay for all of the expenses that go along with being a real estate agent. People fail to treat being a real estate agent as a business.

New agents generally charge as much as experienced agents charge but study after study shows that experienced agents make more money.

“To become licensed as a real estate salesperson in Minnesota, you must first qualify by fulfilling several requirements. You must be at least 18 years old, and you must successfully complete three 30-hour education courses (known as Course I, Course II, and Course III), pass the salesperson’s examination, become associated with a licensed real estate broker (who must submit the application for your license), and receive notice that the application for your license has been approved by the Commerce Department.

To remain licensed in good standing, you must fulfill additional requirements. You must maintain the association with a licensed broker, complete required continuing education courses by the specified deadlines, and comply with all laws governing your conduct as a licensee.”

For a handy guide visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce

The qualifications for a broker’s license if outlined in the same document. One of the qualifications is having had a real estate license for three years. There are exceptions but I would go to the link above and get the information from the source rather than taking the word of some real estate blogger.

The only way to become a REALTOR is to become a member of the National Association of Realtors. REALTOR isn’t an occupation or job title. I estimate that there are currently about 21,000 members in Minnesota which is down from the peak in 2006 of over 25,000.

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