Real estate brokers are licensed to manage their own businesses. They manage a team of real estate brokers and real estate sales agents. Real estate brokers help clients buy, sell, or rent their properties.
They are typically self-employed, working irregular hours and setting their own schedules. Real estate brokers also possess a real estate license.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for real estate brokers in 2018 was $58,120. The job outlook is projected to grow by six percent from 2016 to 2026 (BLS, 2019).
Real estate brokers oversee single-family dwellings, multi-unit complexes, and multiple commercial properties.
To maintain their licenses, real estate brokers are expected to complete continuing education.
Real Estate Broker Job Description
Real estate brokers are knowledgeable in real estate management principles, legal regulations involving contracts and agreements between parties, and mediation between buyer and seller.
Real estate brokers advise clients on mortgages, market conditions, and properties. They market and promote residential and commercial properties using advertisements, open houses, and real estate listing services.
They provide a comparison of properties, called “comps,” in a competitive market. Because they have a real estate license, they can explain the purchasing and selling processes to prospective clients.
They also explain deeds, loyalty contracts, and purchase contracts. They ensure all terms are met before completing and closing contract negotiations.
Real estate brokers must be familiar with local communities, crime information, proximity to schools and shopping, and local/state regulations for selling residential and commercial properties.
Real estate brokers are not real estate sales agents who largely work for brokers on a contract basis and receive a commission. Real estate brokers may work for themselves.
Pay & Career Outlook
The pay and career outlook for real estate brokers is based upon the highest ten-percent of revenue earners and the lowest ten-percent of wage earners.
Real estate brokers working for real estate brokerage firms typically are wage earners with access to commission.
Management real estate brokers, however, are revenue generators, negotiating commissions on properties sold as part of a portfolio.
BLS provides the following 2018 information on the medial annual wage for real estate brokers.
- Highest ten-percent: $112,610
- Median wage: $58,120
- Lowest ten-percent: $22,750
Bottom Line: median annual wages or potential revenues for real estate brokers are also determined by industry, based upon number of sold properties, and current industry statistics by property type.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) provides an overview of the real estate market for 2018, referencing also additional data and citations. Visit NAR for more information.
- 5.34 million existing homes sold in 2018
- 667,000 newly-constructed homes sold in 2018
- 2 million active real estate licensees
- 86,004 real estate brokerage firms
- 5.6 million commercial buildings in the U.S.
- 121.6 million occupied housing units
- 63.7% of families owned their primary residence
- 55 years old, current home for 14 years as the typical
A real estate brokerage firm typically negotiates commission. Therefore, it is difficult to determine past revenue and revenue projections without viewing the firm’s annual report.
A company trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) would typically report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) multi-million dollars in revenue.
In addition, real estate brokerage firms may operate in different residential and commercial markets as well as in investments.
For a sample annual report for a real estate brokerage firm, visit here.
For more information about real estate brokerage firms, search your local directories.
There are different median annual wages for real estate agents working for real estate brokers. See BLS statistics here.
Real Estate Broker Qualifications
Real estate brokers may work for a residential or commercial seller or buyer. Brokers may be agents, representing both the seller and the buyer.
Because brokers may fall under a dual classification, the following conditions will apply:
- Brokers selling a property might be contacted by a buyer. In this case, the broker is working for the buyer and the seller.
- Broker and agent working for the same real estate brokerage firm will represent the buyer and seller, respectively.
If states do not recognize dual agency, then the real estate broker will function as a transactional broker, facilitating the selling and buying of property as a transaction but not as a representative of either party.
Bottom Line: real estate brokers must be licensed in their respective states to list for sale or for lease real estate in any U.S. jurisdiction in which the sale or lease is taking place (NAR, n.d.). State governments require the individual to hold a real estate license and complete continuing education hours to maintain the license.
How to Become a Real Estate Broker
A real estate broker must complete pre-licensing real estate courses to be eligible for and to become licensed. College courses may waive licensing requirements.
Most real estate brokers have some formal education. The NAR provides the following statistics:
- Some college: 30%
- Bachelor's degree: 31%
- Graduate degree: 13%
- Associate degree: 13%
- High school graduate: 8%
Although there typically is not a preference for formal education other than completion of real estate courses, the real estate market is becoming increasingly competitive and complex, especially since community colleges are offering courses in real estate.
Bachelor’s degree programs are also becoming popular. Courses in finance, business administration, economics, and law offer a real estate component.
Brokers who open their own companies typically complete coursework in marketing and accounting.
Therefore, in the future, getting into real estate might require formal, college-based education, in addition to standard pre-licensing courses.
Completion of real estate pre-licensing course work for real estate brokers is predicated on state regulation.
For example, the Texas Real Estate Commission provides guidelines for how to become licensed and receive a Texas Broker License for Individual.
Pre-licensing students must complete 270 classroom hours of qualifying real estate courses, which are defined by the following:
- Principles of Real Estate I (30 classroom hours)
- Principles of Real Estate II (30 classroom hours)
- Law of Agency (30 classroom hours)
- Law of Contracts (30 classroom hours)
- Promulgated Contract Forms (30 classroom hours)
- Real Estate Finance (30 classroom hours)
- Real Estate Brokerage (30 classroom hours)
Bottom Line: real estate courses for real estate brokers must be completed no more than two years prior to application for the license.
Visit the real estate commission in your local area.
Licensed real estate brokers are required to complete an additional 630 hours of approved continuing education (CE) in the following courses:
- Real Estate Appraisal
- Real Estate Law
- Real Estate Marketing
- Real Estate Math
- Property Management
- Real Estate Investments
- Residential Inspections for Real Estate Agent
Continuing education contributes to training requirements for real estate brokers who might have begun as real estate agents.
Becoming a real estate agent requires students to learn by formal training and observation while working to get their real estate licenses.
This means that real estate sales agents work with senior brokers while training and completing their courses to get real estate license and later become real estate brokers as individuals working for a real estate firm or as managers or owners of their own real estate brokerage firm.
Before an individual can pursue and obtain a broker’s license, the person must meet real estate agent requirements:
- At least four years' active experience as a licensed real estate sales agent or broker prior to the 60-month period for filing the application
- Experience totaling 3600 points reported using the Qualifying Experience Report for a Broker License
A downloadable sample form is available here.
Visit your local real estate commission for more information about training and coursework and submission of forms for qualification.
Licenses & Certifications
Real estate brokers are licensed in their respective states. A candidate for license must fulfill the following conditions:
- Be 18 years old.
- Complete a number of real estate coursework.
- Pass the exam.
Becoming a real estate agent in general requires that candidates must pass a background check. Licenses are also not transferable by state. This means that course hours may differ by state.
Bottom Line: the real estate exam is administered by PearsonVue, a testing service company. The company offers access to Real Estate Practice Tests and outlines, covering both real estate licensing concepts and state-specific regulations. You can visit the site here for more information.
The work environment for licensed real estate brokers is based upon formal education, practical training, and important qualities needed for the job.
See the previous sections for formal education and training for detailed information.
For the work environment, real estate brokers must possess the following skills:
- Real estate brokers must have business skills.
- Local and state-based real estate commissions stress the importance of completing coursework in accounting, business management, finance, investments, and law.
- Real estate brokers must be able to handle their personal finances, manage the finances of the firm, understand the financial structure of the buyer/seller negotiation, and meet local and state-based regulations.
- Real estate brokers need interpersonal skills. They spend much time interacting with clients and customers, both in residential and commercial industries. This means that real estate brokers, individual and firm-based, must be pleasant, enthusiastic, and trustworthy.
- Real estate brokers must have organizational skills. They must be able to manage their time well, organize, plan, and prioritize projects.
- Real estate brokers must be great problem-solvers. The buyer has a problem. The seller has a problem. Both need problem solvers. This means that the real estate broker must be able to address the concerns of the buyer and the seller, mediate when appropriate, and usher both parties to close with integrity.