Are you a fan of house flipping, remodeling, and interior design shows on TV? Have you ever thought about what it might be like to sell these finished products to eager new homeowners?
If you’re in the market for a new job (no puns here!), beginning a life as a real estate agent not only affords you the opportunity to study new sales techniques, but a real estate agent salary is as high as you are able to command through your skills as a sales representative.
Becoming a Real Estate Agent
Before we get into the detail on the typical real estate agent salary, you’ll need to make sure you’ve obtained a high school diploma or an equivalent such as a GED. While a lot of real estate agencies tend to prefer candidates with degrees from a college or university, it’s entirely up to you – you’ll want to look into programs in business administration or a dedicated real estate degree.
From here, your requirements are going to vary according to which state you live in. You’ll have to obtain some kind of license or certification, which may require you to take some additional courses and pass an exam. Make sure you also look into what’s needed for license/certification renewal – the last thing you need is an expired credential when you’re so close to closing a big sale!
Determining Your Real Estate Agent Salary
All right – now that you know what it takes to become a real estate agent, let’s get to the important part: how much are you going to make as a real estate agent?
The answer is a common one when you are asked a vital question: “It depends.”
The national average salary for a real estate agent, as of May 2017, is $59,630. Here’s the thing, though – that number is going to vary greatly for you because of the nature of the position. Selling real estate is largely commission-based, and your salary is going to fluctuate based on many different conditions. As we’ve seen in the last ten years, the real estate market can go from one extreme to another overnight, and you could find yourself living very comfortably with the right decisions and knowledge of the marketplace.
Salary by State
How much can your salary vary? Let’s take a look at the highest-paying real estate agent salaries, according to their location across the United States:
Average salary for real estate agents in New York: $102,310
Average salary for real estate agents in Texas: $72,480
Average salary for real estate agents in Hawaii: $72,470
Average salary for real estate agents in Alaska: $71,030
Average salary for real estate agents in Rhode Island: $70,450
It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you that New York tops this list. If you’ve been to Manhattan lately, or have looked at an Instagram photo of the New York City skyline, you’ll have some idea of how much the price of real estate commands in the Big Apple. If you secure a position as a real estate agent in New York, your potential for earnings could be unlimited with the right client list and a market that is begging for you to sell and them to buy.
Meanwhile, the giant state of Texas not only has tons of opportunity for residential home sales, but you should also consider the amount of business property in the three major cities of Houston, Dallas, and Austin. There’s no shortage of opportunity to deal in real estate in the Lone Star State!
If you’re looking at potential vacation property sales, Hawaii and Alaska are going to be as much of a dream destination for you as it will be for those looking to call these exotic locations their new home. Keep in mind that this is Alaska and Hawaii we’re talking about, so it’s going to be a pretty drastic relocation if you decide to make a career out of real estate sales in either state.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s oceanfront properties will command top dollar, and your commissions will always see higher returns when potential buyers are looking for the best view of the water.
Real Estate Agent Employment
Aside from a real estate agent salary, you’re likely wondering where you’ll find the most opportunity for a position as a real estate agent. Have a look at the states with the highest employment rates:
Real estate agent employment in Florida: 17,750 (average salary of $57,520)
Real estate agent employment in Texas: 15,770
Real estate agent employment in Georgia: 11,170 (average salary of $46,220)
Real estate agent employment in California: 10,380 (average salary of $68,860)
Real estate agent employment in Washington: 7,800 (average salary of $59,590)
Your client list in Florida as a real estate agent can be expansive when you include those who are born and raised in-state, as well as potential buyers who find their way to the Sunshine State through new employment or retirement.
Plus, Florida is a deceptively large state – it’s easy to forget how much land exists from Pensacola to Miami. You might find yourself selling a fixer-upper in the swamps, or a coveted beach house along the Eastern coast. If you decide that one part of Florida isn’t for you, there’s always the option to set up shop in another part of the state.
Similarly, Georgia offers a wealth of options for cities and real estate sales options. The major metropolitan area of Atlanta has a lot of potential for commercial and residential property all throughout the surrounding area, while historic areas like Savannah attract tourists and longtime residents alike.
Out in California, the possibilities are endless – one day, you could find yourself marketing to famous actors, then selling the next day to people on the mountainous areas associated with the Gold Rush in earlier times.
Meanwhile, Washington’s mild climate and thriving economy continues to attract new homeowners, and the value of property has also increased with the appeal.
Now that we’ve covered the best places to land a job as a real estate agent, let’s also check out some of the more densely-populated areas where you might not have expected to look for a career in real estate:
Real estate agent employment per thousand jobs in Georgia: 2.60
Real estate agent employment per thousand jobs in Washington: 2.45
Real estate agent employment per thousand jobs in Oklahoma: 2.33 (average salary of $49,380)
Real estate agent employment per thousand jobs in South Carolina: 2.24 (average salary of $52,070)
Real estate agent employment per thousand jobs in Florida: 2.11
We’ve covered three of the states in the previous paragraph, but Oklahoma gets on this list primarily due to the density surrounding Oklahoma City. Combine this with the nearby town of Norman, home to the University of Oklahoma, and you have the perfect formula for a hot pocket of real estate for both university students and all the businesses that can cater directly to the needs of a bustling college town.
Elsewhere, South Carolina’s entire east coast touches the Atlantic Ocean, and is home to many resort locations such as Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston, making it a prime location for those looking for a summer home, or a new place to settle down after retirement.
Both states don’t come without their share of natural risks, however – Oklahoma is right in the heart of Tornado Alley, and South Carolina has seen its share of coastal storms over the years. As you pitch your marketplace listings, be sure to remind those who are not familiar with the area of the inherent risks that comes with investing in a new home in plains states like Oklahoma or shoreline areas such as South Carolina.
What Makes a Good Real Estate Agent?
Now that you’re well-versed on real estate agent salary information, you may still want some general tips on how to make it in the marketplace. As we discussed earlier, your real estate agent salary and your ability to successfully close deals will go together, and without the ability to convert leads into sales, you won’t be maximizing your profits.
You need a natural ability to sell, which might come from experience in other markets like retail or vehicles, and a winning personality that engages people when you meet with them. If you’re going to be interacting with potential homeowners, you want to develop a bond that exists throughout the duration of the sales pitch, whether that takes weeks or months.
As you earn more leads and take on more responsibility as a real estate agent, you will need careful attention to detail when keeping records of transactions, property deeds, and all the other critical information that comes with the sale of a home or office. Instinct and insight on who is willing to buy and who could potentially buy again in the future are an asset, as you can spend less time seeking a lead and more time converting a lead into a sale.
Finally, a drive for success is necessary in all sales positions, and real estate is no exception. The houses aren’t going to sell themselves, and your salary will reflect that once you find the right location to begin a career as a real estate agent.