If you’re interested in becoming a real estate agent, you might be inclined to wonder, “What does a Realtor do?”
From the outside, most of us only interact with a real estate agent for the first time when we’re buying a home. So, we know that they do a lot of running around — a lot of housing market research, showings, and open houses.
But how does that look from the other side? Let’s take an in-depth look at what a Realtor does through the eyes of a few fictional agents.
Samantha, a Brand New Real Estate Agent
Samantha just got her real estate license last year. She’s currently the listing agent on eight listings. That’s lower than average; most people have ten to twenty. But she’s still easing into her new real estate agent career and learning about what does a Realtor do.
In the morning, Samantha has three or four showings for her listings, booked back-to-back. Samantha does a lot of traveling.
She doesn’t always have to be present to show every listing (she has a lockbox on each one). However, she does prefer to be available as she’s still building up her career. To help with all this time management, Samantha uses a scheduling app and system.
This morning, Samantha has a new listing to deal with. She drafts the listing agreement, then pulls some comparable properties to help set a selling price. Ultimately, it’s up to the seller what asking price they’re happy with, but she can advise them on what’s best.
At 2:00 PM, Samantha has a closing. She’s helping one of her sellers close on a property. Luckily, the sale price is above the asking price, and all parties are happy. Upon closing, Samantha will get her real estate agent commission — but the total commission fee is going to be split between the sales agent, the listing agent, and both of their brokers.
Most of the work has already been done prior to the closing, such as drafting the purchase contract. Both she and the buying agent have looked over the documents. Now it’s just up to the escrow.
In the evening, Samantha works with a few clients that have come to her looking for a property. She does showings for them, too, but this time as the buyer’s agent rather than the listing agent.
She logs into the multiple listing service (MLS) to see whether there are any new homes that meet their parameters.
Once she gets home, her work isn’t done. Samantha conscientiously updates her social media, her project management software, and does other important administrative tasks. The commission she received that day also needs to last until her next commission — so she carefully books it and projects out her future finances.
Thomas, a Seasoned Agent
Now, let’s look at Thomas, a seasoned, professional real estate agent. He has the same drive and motivation as Samantha, but he’s been doing this for ten years. Thomas currently has 14 listings up.
For the most part, Thomas rarely shows his listings unless he has to. He lets the buyer’s agent do the work (unless, of course, his client has requested that he be there). He’s in a very fast-paced market. Instead, he concentrates on building out his network of leads.
From morning to night, Thomas interacts with people online and in person. He is meeting with people who want to learn more about moving to another state. He has a website and social media page designed to pull in leads. Thomas differs from Samantha in more than just the amount of experience he has; he’s also focused more on the Internet.
With his network of referrals, he can consistently find new people to work for across the country. Thomas rarely has to close a deal on his own; the referrals he provides mean that he gets a chunk of the Realtor fees when the transaction closes.
Mark, a Commercial Rental Agent
Mark is a real estate agent who primarily works in the commercial rental space. His brokerage does both rentals and property sales, and he splits his time between the two.
Because Mark spends a lot of time on commercial rentals and negotiations, the majority of his income is actually salaried. But he does make a commission on commercial rental deals, and standard commission if he happens to be a buyer’s agent or listing agent. These sorts of details are discussed between agent and broker.
In the morning, he shows multiple commercial spots. He meets with business owners to determine which sites would be most interesting for them. There’s more involved in a commercial real estate rental than a residential real estate rental, such as build-out costs and other concessions.
In the evening, Mark will go home and take care of his own private listings. In the evenings, he may show a listing that he has, or work with a prospective buyer he’s recently connected with. But the majority of his work will be done from 9-to-5.
Kim, a Real Estate Broker
Finally, there’s Kim. Kim has been in the industry for 15 years and has recently been promoted from an associate broker. But despite having a broker’s license, she’s not managing her own brokerage just yet. Instead, she’s the managing broker for her current, designated broker.
As a managing broker, Kim is a salaried professional; she doesn’t just work for commission. She oversees the office itself, which means she performs administrative and financial tasks for the transaction broker. The brokerage doesn’t just collect commission. It actively supports its Realtors.
In the morning, she conducts interviews with potential new hires; real estate professionals they hope to work with soon. In the evening, she meets with some of the brokerage’s newer real estate agents and gives them advice.
Kim’s job is now more of a 9-to-5 job than it has ever been before. But she’s still a real estate professional. She can still act as a listing broker or seller’s agent, even as a managing broker. She may have one or two listings of her own. When it comes to closing costs, her commission will likely be higher than other agents, but she will still need to pay the broker part of the real estate transaction.
Forging Your Real Estate Path
As you can probably see, there are many differences in how a real estate agent might operate, depending on their experience and position. So if you’re curious about what does a Realtor do, it’ll vary depending on what you choose to focus on. Some agents focus on being the seller’s agent. Listing agents have many listings up that they must manage.
But other agents focus on being a buyer’s agent. They have very few listings, but they’re superb at conducting research, finding out about the properties in the area, and negotiating.
Both the seller’s agent and buyer’s agent generally split real estate commission equally, so it’s up to you which role suits you best. You can even become a dual agent; dual agency means you’re both the seller’s agent and buyer’s agent at once.
As you develop your career, you will usually have more listings. But you’ll also have more referrals. These are situations in which a prospective client would be better off with another agent.
And your daily life may differ depending on whether you work for a behemoth in the real estate industry (like Redfin) or a smaller, local broker.
Real estate sales agents choose where to spend their time. Some may never even interact with a home seller or prospective buyer; they may become well-versed in real estate law or go into the rental field instead. In rentals, rather than potential buyers, there are potential renters—and rather than a real estate commission, there’s a Realtor commission for every leased unit.
Regardless, there will be a lot of work. An experienced agent will need to network, be mindful of the local real estate market, and keep up their fiduciary duty to their clients.
How many hours does the average real estate agent work?
More than half of Realtors work a standard 40-hour workweek or more. The majority of this time is usually spent either working with clients or on administrative tasks.
But surprisingly, a lot of agents don’t actually spend most of their time showing their own listings. The buyer’s agent frequently takes charge of showing a listing rather than the seller’s agent.
Does a real estate agent focus on selling or buying?
Most agents do both. The dream for an agent is to represent both sides of a transaction because then you get the full commission.
When it comes to what does a Realtor do, a key part of being a real estate agent is flexibility.
At the start of your career, you’ll probably deal mostly with whatever your broker refers you; it’s your broker’s job to help you launch your career. But over time, you’ll be able to develop your career into the areas you’re most interested in.
Can a real estate agent focus on rentals?
Rentals are both a niche and subset of the real estate industry. Some real estate agents are salaried with property management companies, and they work primarily with rentals. Often, these are high-value commercial rentals, but they can be residential units as well.
Even when working with rentals, a real estate agent might occasionally want to run listings or help secure a sale. If you’re wondering what does a Realtor do, keep in mind that working in the rental industry generally means a lower but more consistent income.
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