What does a real estate agent do?
Real estate agents work with clients to help them buy, sell or rent real estate. Real estate agent roles and duties include interfacing with clients, acting as a go-between for buyers and sellers and performing administrative, research and marketing tasks. Some of the general duties of a real estate agent include the following:
- Answer phone calls and emails
- Schedule appointments and showings
- Update property listings
- Draft and deliver documents
- Order supplies
- Perform real estate market analysis
- Stay current with real estate markets, trends and best practices
- Search open listings to find properties
- Create and distribute promotional material
- Manage online and social media presence
- Network with potential clients and local businesses
- Run advertising campaigns
- Build a blog or website
Types of Real Estate Agents
While many agents fulfill multiple roles throughout their careers, or even their days, they tend to fit under specific headings. The following real estate job descriptions should help narrow the type of agent you are looking to hire.
A real estate agent who helps owners sell a property may also be referred to as a seller’s agent or listing agent.
When a seller wants to put their property up for sale, they’ll generally contact a real estate agent to act on their behalf. With the seller’s best interests in mind, the real estate agent uses their knowledge of the market to accurately price the property, list it and market it to potential buyers.
In working with sellers, a real estate agent may perform the following key roles and duties:
- Prepare comparative market research analysis to establish a realistic asking price (beyond what an online estimator can do)
- Identify which assets are a property’s top selling points for that neighborhood
- Pinpoint the best places to invest money in improvements
- Stage the property to make it appealing to buyers
- Photograph the property, inside and out
- List the property on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
- Advertise the property to gain the attention of prospective buyers
- Supervise and/or schedule property showings and open house events
- Draft and prepare documents, such as offers, contracts and closing statements
- Communicate with appraisers, escrow companies, lenders and home inspectors
A real estate agent who helps clients buy a property is sometimes called a buyer’s agent or selling agent.
Buyers often turn to real estate agents when they’re in the market to buy a property, such as a new office space. Because real estate agents typically know the ins and outs of the real estate market, they can use their expertise to match the buyer with a property best suited for their needs and wants.
Here are some of the key roles and responsibilities of a real estate agent when working with buyers:
- Coordinate and oversee open houses
- Arrange meetings with prospective buyers
- Interview buyers to understand what they’re looking for in a new property
- Schedule property showings
- Coordinate appraisals and inspections
- Negotiate property repair requests and offers on behalf of the buyer
- Draft and review documents and contracts
- Guide the buyer through the closing process
When one real estate agent is representing both the seller and the buyer in a transaction, they’re called dual agents. A dual agent fulfills all the above duties of a real estate agent for a given transaction. However, this can sometimes create a conflict of interest.
Hiring a real estate agent
There are two main ways you may want to hire a real estate agent. The first is if you’re looking to buy or sell a property. The second case is if you have a real estate company and are looking to hire an agent to work for you.
Using a Realtor to buy or sell a property
When your business has real estate needs, such as buying or leasing new office space or selling an old warehouse, your best bet is to work with a real estate agent. You shouldn’t have to pay any fees directly to them, as they receive a commission from the real estate transaction itself. Do make sure they’re not acting as a dual agent and their complete fiduciary responsibility is to you and your interests.
Hiring a real estate agent for your real estate business
If you have a growing brokerage, chances are you will need to hire a real estate agent at some point. Most agents work as independent contractors, earning their income as commission on the sales they’re involved in. As contractors, there are certain restrictions on what you can require of them. However, there are many benefits to hiring contractors as well, such as limiting your liability and having extra flexibility in staffing during busy and slow seasons.
Some real estate agents are hired as employees. These employees often act as assistants in the office, filling in when needed, and are usually fresh from certification and looking for experience. If an agent is paid an hourly wage instead of solely commission, they’re considered an employee.
Benefits of hiring a real estate agent
Whether you’re looking to rent or buy an office for your business, sell a piece of property or build up your real estate staff, there are several benefits to hiring a real estate agent.
- Real estate agents are qualified and licensed. Though requirements vary by state, becoming a professionally licensed agent involves taking courses and passing a state exam. They also have continuing education requirements to keep abreast of laws and trends.
- They have connections with others in the industry and community. These may include title companies, appraisers, inspectors, landscapers and contractors. Because of this, real estate agents know who might be your best bet for your need and can get you in touch with the right contact.
- Real estate agents understand the market and current trends. They’re familiar with property prices and the community. This insight can help you make the right decisions without extensive research on your part.
Frequently asked questions about real estate agents
What is the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor?
A real estate agent is a professional who deals in property transactions, as described in this article. The job of a Realtor is no different. Realtor is simply a title given to a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. The two titles aren’t interchangeable because only members of this organization can call themselves a Realtor.
What is a real estate broker?
Real estate brokers have passed additional certifications in the field. They can work on their own, without a managing brokerage, or open their own brokerage where they manage other real estate agents. When running a brokerage, they tend to focus more on the administrative duties of management and helping the agents under them than acting as agents on their own, though they do have the qualifications to do so.
How do I find a good real estate agent?
If you want to hire a real estate agent, write a standout job description to attract high-quality candidates. Some qualifications to look for include a real estate license, experience with CRM software and strong communication skills. By joining industry-specific organizations and attending professional conferences and events, you can find a large pool of candidates who may make a good addition to your team.
If you’re looking for a real estate agent to handle a purchase or sale, run an online search for agents in your area and read online reviews. Ask for recommendations from others who have recently worked with a real estate agent. When you find a potential match, meet with them in person to get a better feel for who they are and their experience.
How do you interview a real estate agent?
Before interviewing a real estate agent, whether a phone screen or in-person interview, thoroughly review their resume and keep it on hand for easy reference.
When interviewing top candidates, ask a mix of common interview questions and questions specific to real estate. For help coming up with questions, explore our list of example real estate interview questions and answers.