Steps to Becoming a Commercial Real Estate Agent
From residential real estate to real estate law, earning your license unlocks a variety of exciting career paths — including commercial real estate. Commercial Salespeople are just as involved in real estate transactions as residential real estate agents, but they work on a whole new level. In fact, the big difference between commercial real estate and residential real estate is simply the clientele. Commercial real estate agents work with individuals or companies to help them find new land or buildings for their offices. This guide will cover the steps to become a commercial real estate agent, career paths within the commercial real estate industry, and salary expectations for these real estate professionals.
1. Get a Real Estate License
As is the case with residential agents, commercial real estate agents must begin their career by obtaining a real estate license in their state. How long it takes to get your real estate license varies by the individual and the state in which you live. It may take up to a few months to complete all the licensing steps. While each state is different, the steps below are typically what you should expect to get your real estate license.
Qualify to Become an Agent in Your State
In order to complete this first step, you generally must:
- Be a legal resident of the United States
- Be 18 years old (19 years old in Nebraska)
- Hold a high school diploma or its equivalent (but not always, check your state requirements!)
If you meet these basic eligibility requirements for licensure, then the next step in how to get a real estate license is to research your state’s specific licensing requirements and start your Pre-Licensing education.
Complete the Required Pre-Licensing Coursework
Each state has a real estate commission that will require a minimum amount of Pre-Licensing coursework to become an agent. Depending on where you’re located, these education courses could be completed over the space of a couple of weeks, or they may require a greater time investment. Pre-Licensing coursework averages around 60-70 hours, but some states require more.
Pass Your State’s Real Estate Examination
The licensing exam will consist of a National and a State section that will need to be finished within a certain time frame (typically around two hours). It’s important to note that you'll likely need to travel to a testing facility to take the state examination in person, even if you took your Pre-Licensing courses online. You can find test-taking locations on your state’s real estate commission website.
It’s best to take your licensing exam right after finishing your Pre-Licensing education to keep the content fresh. You can also enroll in Exam Prep to help you pass your real estate examination. With the right Exam Prep, you can feel more confident going into your exam.
Find a Real Estate Broker and Join Their Brokerage
You’ve completed your Pre-Licensing course and passed your exam, but you’re not ready to start selling properties just yet. As a licensee, you’re able to sell real estate on behalf of a Broker but not as an independent entity in your real estate market. At this stage, you’ll need to research local Brokers and choose the one that fits you. It’s crucial to find a Broker with whom you feel comfortable, so be sure to interview them just as much as they interview you. After all, your first year as an agent will be significantly smoother if you have the right Broker supporting your efforts!
Apply for Your Real Estate License
This application is available on your state’s real estate commission website. There will be a fee to apply that usually ranges between $100 - $300. At this time, you’ll most likely be required to submit a background check that the state will review before issuing your license. Each state varies in how long they take to review and respond to your application. Please note that you’ll need to continue your real estate education after you receive your license. Some states require Post-Licensing education, and all states require real estate professionals to take Continuing Education courses on a regular basis to maintain their license.
2. Build a Commercial Real Estate Network
Now that you have completed your education requirements and hold a commercial real estate license, you have to network. Your Broker can help you connect with influential people in your market. If you’re just starting out in commercial real estate, network with local agents. If you build a rapport, you can join in commercial real estate deals and split the commission as you grow your own clientele base. But don’t stop at simply chatting with your peers. Connecting with CEOs and other business executives, investors, and even journalists who cover business beats can lead to potential clients. It takes time and effort to build a real estate network, so don’t get discouraged. The more you put into building your network, the more you’ll get out of it in the long term.
3. Gain Experience and Become a Commercial Real Estate Broker
Once you have built up your network and worked in the industry for a while, you may be hungry for a new challenge. Why not become a commercial real estate Broker? Those who hold a Broker License typically have more freedom and make more money than those who don’t. But before you can become a Broker, most states require that you have at least a few years of experience as a Sales Agent.
Did You Know?
The difference between commercial and residential real estate comes down to the clientele and properties. Commercial real estate professionals help individuals and businesses find their ideal office space and/or commercial properties. On the other hand, residential real estate agents help people and families find their dream homes.
Commercial Real Estate Career Paths
Commercial real estate offers a variety of career paths for licensees. We’ve highlighted some of the most popular jobs you can have relating to this specific field below.
Commercial Real Estate Agent
While you can certainly become a Broker when you have gained the necessary education and requirements, you might prefer to stay as a commercial real estate agent. If you’re content with that, don’t allow anyone to tell you what you need to do with your career. After all, having freedom and flexibility are major reasons why people enter this industry.
Commercial Real Estate Broker
This path in commercial real estate will require more responsibilities from you but also greater earning potential. Become a commercial real estate Broker and you can be your own boss, hire your own agents, and put in the work to watch your real estate sales take off.
Perhaps you’re more interested in managing a property or multiple properties. Getting into property management is a great option for commercial real estate agents. You’ll need to determine if there are any additional requirements in your state to get into property management. If you don’t want the hassle of buying or selling commercial properties, this is an avenue for you!
Real Estate Development
For those who want to be involved in every step of the commercial real estate process, a real estate developer might be perfect for you. From buying land to reviewing the building blueprints to overseeing the construction of the property, you’re involved in literally every step of the process as a real estate developer. When people see the completed office buildings, you’ll have a unique sense of pride and accomplishment knowing your real estate business played a key role in making that come to life.
Salary Expectations for Commercial Real Estate Agents
It’s no secret that potential commercial real estate agents often choose this industry due to the money they can make. But how does that work, and what should you expect in terms of salary? If you become a commercial real estate agent, your income is based on commission. According to Salary.com, the average salary for a commercial real estate agent in the U.S. ranges between $84,825 - $113,306 per year.
Your real estate journey will be rich with opportunities, no matter if you’re a residential real estate agent or your focus is commercial properties. By following the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to finding long-term success — and The CE Shop will be here to help every step of the way!