Tips for Succeeding As a Real Estate Agent

Fact checked by Yarilet PerezReviewed by Andrew Schmidt

Real estate salespeople and other licensees who are required to work for and under the umbrella of a designated broker are often referred to as real estate agents. The term “agent” refers to the strictly defined legal relationship between a real estate salesperson and the buyers and sellers with whom they conduct business.

An agent is an individual who is authorized and consents to represent the interests of another person. As an agent, you’ll act to assist people with the process of buying, selling, and renting land, homes, and other properties.

Key Takeaways

  • Real estate agents help people buy, sell, and rent land and properties.
  • Real estate agents spend time on active, income-producing work and extensive administrative paperwork.
  • Successful real estate agents must win new clients by being personable, professional, and knowledgeable communicators.
  • Successful agents use technology platforms to expand their marketing reach and knowledge base and to gather relevant data.

What Real Estate Agents Do

Real estate agents must meet licensing requirements and have a comprehensive understanding of pertinent real estate laws. They also have a long list of responsibilities when they’re able to work. Agents typically do the following:

  • Advise clients on mortgages, market conditions, and pricing
  • Advise sellers on how they can make their homes more attractive to buyers
  • Compare properties to determine fair and competitive market prices
  • Generate lists of appropriate properties for buyers based on their price range and needs
  • Guide buyers and sellers through the transaction
  • Manage lists of contacts
  • Mediate negotiations between buyers and sellers
  • Prepare and submit all required paperwork, including various contracts
  • Present all purchase offers to sellers for consideration
  • Promote properties through advertising, listing services (such as MLS), and open houses
  • Show properties to prospective buyers
  • Solicit potential clients to buy, sell, and rent properties
  • Stay current with real estate laws and trends
  • Work nights and weekends to accommodate clients’ needs 

Expand Your Sphere of Influence

One way to build contacts and generate leads is through a real estate sphere of influence (SOI) business model. This networking strategy focuses on generating real estate leads via people you already know, including your family, friends, classmates, business associates, sports team members, and even service providers such as your doctor and hairstylist.


The best way to keep track of all the names and contact information is in one place. This could be a spreadsheet program like Excel, your email contacts database, or commercial software.

Once you have established your SOI database, It’s easy to add contacts as you meet people at community events, through mutual acquaintances, or other means when you’ve established an SOI database. The more people you have on your list, the larger your SOI and the better your chances for a referral.

Plan on sending out a “new agent” announcement via mail, phone, email, text, or any combination that’s tailored to each type of contact. Let them know when you begin your career and give them periodic updates and shout-outs to keep your SOI thinking about you and your real estate services.

Develop a Professional Image

Developing and maintaining a professional presence is vital to your success as a real estate agent. Your image is projected through your:

  • Appearance: Maintain a professional appearance through tidy and professional clothing, hair, and accessories. Many real estate agents will stick with casual business clothing, but no matter what you choose, it should be appropriate for your office and the local market no matter what you choose. Avoid perfume or cologne and revealing or unprofessional clothing.
  • Face-to-face meetings: Use good eye contact and positive body language. Strive to be attentive, engaging, and courteous.
  • Marketing and advertising materials: Create promotional materials using quality photos and accurate, compelling text that should be free of grammatical and spelling mistakes.
  • Phone calls: You should be articulate, engaging, and courteous whenever you communicate with clients or potential clients.
  • Web presence: Create a carefully thought-through website and engaging social media. Both should be free of grammatical errors and typos.
  • Written communications: Make strategic use of well-written letters, emails, and texts to maintain contact with your network.

Remember that any presence you have on the Internet, whether it’s professional or personal, lasts forever and can easily find its way to your potential clients. Work toward a professional image in and out of your real estate career.

Use Tools and Technology

Utilizing tools and technology goes hand in hand with developing a professional image. Agents can use several tools to help organize and promote their real estate businesses.

Contact Management

Keeping track of your clients is a must. You can go basic with a spreadsheet program or an email database program such as the one in Outlook, or you can invest in database software designed specifically for real estate professionals.

Commercial products offer many useful features, including automated contact synchronization with your smartphone. No matter how you keep track of your contacts, keep the list current. Update, add, and delete contacts as appropriate.

Agent Websites

Consider setting up a domain name and website. This may seem daunting but building a professional-looking website is easier than ever. Large corporations may spend hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on developing and maintaining their websites but you can do it for a very reasonable amount of money.

A website provides you with a landing page to direct your existing and potential clients while creating a professional, searchable web presence. You can also make websites for individual properties to promote your listings and keep your sellers happy. You can take advantage of social media by linking to your Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn profiles, and any other social media platforms.


Marketing software for real estate agents can help you manage your marketing efforts. These packages typically include templates for business cards, door hangers, postcards, property flyers, brochures, email campaigns, and animated home tours to help you efficiently reach out to existing and potential clients.


Several software applications for iOS- and Android-based devices are available to help you stay connected when you’re out of the office. The Open Home Pro allows you to run an open house on your iPad, follow up with leads, create listing pages, and export collected data to Excel or other software.

Other Technology

You’ll need a firm grasp on all available properties that are listed and a means to get word of your listings out there. This is where MLS, the Multiple Listing Service, comes into play. It’s a tool that links brokers to other brokers, allowing them to share information on the properties they’re selling.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) settled a lawsuit with home sellers in 2024 regarding broker commissions and this brought a legal focus on MLS. In addition to monetary compensation, NAR agreed to bar offers of broker compensation using the service. But brokers are still free to privately negotiate compensation.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent?

The time it takes to become a real estate agent will depend on the state in which you live and/or choose to work. Each state has its own licensing requirements. You must complete 60 hours of approved coursework in Virginia, or 180 to become a real estate broker. You may also have to spend additional time training with the brokerage or agency you work with.

How Much Do Real Estate Agents Earn?

The median wage for a real estate agent was $49,980 per year in 2023, according to a report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in late 2023. “Median” means that this is the middle figure. Half earned more and half earned less. The top 10% of agents earned more than $113,320 per year.

How Are Real Estate Commissions Paid?

How much a real estate agent makes depends on the final sales price of a property. Real estate agents are typically paid a commission or percentage of that price through a listing agreement. The commission is usually about 6%. The listing agent shares part of the commission with the buyer’s agent when the sale is complete.

 The Bottom Line

Working as a real estate agent has its challenges. You don’t get paid unless you sell, you might work long hours and still have no paycheck and you have to adapt to changing market conditions. That said, it can be a rewarding career, both financially and professionally.

Calling on your sphere of influence, projecting a professional image, and using real estate tools and technology can help you build a successful career in real estate. 

Read the original article on Investopedia.