Real estate agents help to sell or buy land and any attached property; from humble plots of land and small starter homes, to exotic islands and luxury mansions. Agents are world-wide as the need for buying and selling land and property has always existed and will continue to do so.
A real estate agent acts as the middleman, or broker, between two parties seeking to buy or sell their land and property. Real estate agents have the skills and experience to either market land and property and sell them for the best possible price and conditions, or to seek land and property that suits a client's needs and buy it as cheaply as possible with the most favourable terms. Agents are also knowledgable about their local laws on the buying and selling of property and land.
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Real estate agents have a variety of tasks that fall within their job description. Agents are responsible for selling land and property and will often charge a percentage of the sale price as their fee. They need to work out financial agreements, or mortgages, that enable the buyers to pay for their land or property over a time. The geographical area that an agent works in is their area of knowledge. The agent needs to know trends within the local property market as well as realistic prices for the various property and land they have to buy or sell. Negotiation is a key part of the agent's work life as they act as the intermediary between buyer and seller and will often negotiate on their client's behalf.
To become a real estate agent a person will need some formal qualifications. In the United States it is illegal to receive money from real estate transactions unless the agent has achieved a recognized brokerage license within the state they are operating in. The legal requirements in this area differ from country to country so it is always essential for anyone interested in this job to research their local laws thoroughly. Skills and attitudes are the most important qualities needed to become a real estate agent. Agents need to have excellent people and communication skills for clients and build many contacts within the industry.
An ability to logically look at land, people and situations is also needed. Numerical skill is essential due to the large sums of money involved in real estate transactions. An agent must also have a strong knowledge of the property and land laws that apply in the country or state in which they work.
An increasingly large job role for real estate agents and brokers is the use of computers and databases. Agents should be comfortable inputting data and photographs of land and property on to digital databases and using these databases to find suitable matches for their client's needs. Virtual tours are also now a feature of many modern real estate companies. These allow a potential buyer to tour a property or piece of land electronically by viewing video or 3D mapped photos of a place. This is a great tool for the agent to increase customer interest in properties, particularly with busy clients or in properties that are out-of-the-way to visit in person initially.
A real estate agent's workplace is as varied as the property they buy and sell and the clients they deal with. While some time is spent in an office environment, a lot of the real estate agent's working life involves travel and irregular hours. The agent will need to visit the properties they are brokering as well as attend meetings with prospective and current clients. This may take place at the evening or weekend to meet the client's need. The real estate agent also attends industry conferences and seminars to stay up to date with current trends as well as keep up their contacts and professional network. They must also keep up with all the available properties in the area, therefore going to agent open houses every week is essential in order to keep as current as possible.
Salaries for real estate brokers can vary greatly depending on sales, geographical location, and whether the agent is self-employed or working for a large company. As of January 2011 basic salaries for real estate agents ranged between $30,000 and $60,000 with an extra annual sum of $20,000 to $60,000 possible through commission. As with many jobs revolving around sales, a large part of the real estate agent's income is dependent on commission, bonuses and fees. Agents working for large organizations are more likely to receive a higher part of their income through basic salary while self-employed agents' income is more heavily related to their individual sales commission. Due to fluctuations in the property and housing market an agent's ability to stay savvy of trends in their field is essential to maximizing their earnings.