How To Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent in New York

Learn the steps to becoming a real estate agent in the greatest market in the country. Find out if a real estate career is right for you and what it takes to stand out and become a success as an agent.
Studying online

Becoming a real estate agent can be a rewarding experience. It can offer you flexibility so that you can design your schedule.

You can work at your own pace and determine how many sales you want to make each month or week.

After you learn the ropes, you can make commissions at costs that may astound you.

If you love real estate and are always looking at pictures in home décor magazines that show you the interiors of New York condos, co-ops, and townhouses, this gig may be right for you.

But becoming an agent is also hard work. There are many steps to take to get licensed as a real estate agent in New York.

You need to set aside long hours to study the industry and you need to be committed to this new role to succeed.

So how do you become a real estate agent in New York?

Here’s a complete guide on how to become a new agent so you know what to expect, how much you can make, and how you can succeed.

7 Steps to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent in New York

  1. Meet the Basic Requirements
  2. Take the 75-hour Real Estate Pre-Licensing Course
  3. Pass the Background Check
  4. Pass the 75-Hour Course Real Estate Exam
  5. Receive the Certificate of Completion
  6. Take the New York Real Estate License Exam
  7. Find a Sponsoring Broker

Meet the Basic Requirements to Become New York Real Estate Salesperson

To become a real estate agent in New York, you need to meet certain eligibility requirements.

You need to be a U.S. citizen or have a government-issued signature identification card that must be photo-bearing.

You must have a valid social security number.

You must pass a background check and have a clean record.

You must be at least 18 years of age and hold at least a high school diploma.

Take a State Approved 75-hour Real Estate Pre-Licensing Course

The first step on your way to becoming a real estate agent is to sign up for a 75-hour real estate course.

The course will help you get your real estate license in New York.

The course covers everything from mortgages and loans to various laws regarding real estate, from fair business practices to different types of housing.

You have your choice in choosing which company you want to work with for your real estate pre-licensing course. Just remember that the course must be fully approved by the New York Department of State.

Where you take the course depends on what state you want to practice.

That’s why, in a New York course, the course covers the laws and bylaws particular to New York real estate.

This includes discussions of New York housing, such as co-ops, condos, and townhouses.

You have two choices in taking the 75-hour course: online and in person.

All classes, whether online or in-person, are taught by current real estate professionals in the field who have decades of real-life experience working in the industry.

The Online Course

The online course is more ideal for those who have full-time jobs and can’t quit them so they can remain afloat.

Taking the course online allows students to study and take lessons on their own schedule and at their own pace, making it ideal for those who have families with children to tend to, or for those who have an indispensable or high-level job.

The online course is divided into different lesson plans.

The student reads the coursework for each lesson a few paragraphs at a time.

Once you finish a lesson, the student must take a quiz before being able to move on to the next lesson.

This is done to make sure the student understands each lesson.

Video Course Vs. Reading Course

There are actually two different types of online courses offered.

One is a course where for all or most lessons, one can watch or listen to an expert lecturing on the topic.

You are required to watch the entire lesson and then complete a quiz to pass the lesson.

The more conventional course is one where reading the lesson is required.

Both types of courses are timed to ensure that 1) you complete 75 hours and 2) that you are paying attention to the lessons.

In many cases, if your screen remains idle for too long, you may be logged out of your session and have to start over again.

The reading course may be better for someone who wants to go at their own pace and save money.

However, the video course is more ideal for someone who is busy and can multitask and listen to a lesson while getting other menial tasks done.

The In-Person Course

You can also choose to take the course in person at a local real estate school. The typical course includes around 20 individual class sessions that last between 3-4 hours long.

If you want to accelerate this part of your training, you can take 2 class sessions per day on each consecutive day, which means you can finish the course in only 10 days.

The benefits of an in-person course are that you have instructors who are right in front of you and who can guide you in the right direction or answer your questions if you have any.

You also get to be around other students who are in the same boat as you. You can make friends with them to have study sessions, for example.

The downside is that it takes a long time to complete the course, around 8 weeks, and you can’t take it tailored around your personal schedule.

The class itself sets the schedule, which isn’t good for students who lack the time.

It’s also more expensive to take an in-person course, which starts at $275 and can go up to nearly $500 depending on what specific class you take.

You also have to purchase a textbook.

A Note on the 75-Hour Certification Course

When taking your NY State-approved certification course, think about this important tidbit.

While knowledge of the laws enforced by New York State in regard to legal and illegal practices is essential for every licensed real estate agent, most of the course won't have a lot to do with the day-to-day work as an agent.

That's right.

Unless you've worked in some capacity in real estate before you may be starting from scratch.

The course won't do a lot to prepare you for the actual work you'll be doing as a licensed salesperson.

You might find some info helpful down the line but because the course encompasses a lot, it's probably info that you'll need to brush up on anyway.

One of the reasons states introduced these courses is because they wanted to deter con artists and bad actors from taking part in the industry.

At one point, most states only required a test to become licensed and there were a lot of agents and brokers involved in unsavory practices and scams.

While the course hasn't completely eliminated all corruption, the passing of certain laws and requirements have reduced the number of would-be agents and illegal practices.

Step 3: Pass the Background Check

As for the background check, you need to pass it if you want to work in real estate.

The agent enters the homes of clients, drives them from one showing to another, and has keys or access codes to the clients’ or sellers’ homes. As such, they need to be trustworthy.

The last thing you want is a former bank robber on parole showing you a classic six.

A felony conviction is a serious crime that involves a prison sentence and puts a serious blemish on your record.

If you’re guilty of a felony, this is an automatic disqualification.

If you have a misdemeanor, that’s a different thing. It’s a less serious crime and involves being put on probation for as many years as the courts decide.

There’s usually no jail time, and that’s because, in New York, the laws are lax and jails are crowded.

The main difference between a felony conviction and a misdemeanor in relation to the New York real estate market is that the latter shouldn’t prevent you from getting a real estate license here.

However, you can still obtain a real estate license even if you have a felony conviction or multiple ones.

If you only have one felony, you can apply for the Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. If you have more than one felony, you can obtain a Certificate of Good Conduct.

Both certificates restore your legal right to apply for a real estate license in New York.

Step 4: Pass the 75-Hour Course Real Estate Exam

After you complete the 75-hour course, the New York Department of State requires that you take a 1 ½ hour real estate exam.

To ensure that the course takers are ready and know the material and are in the likely position to pass the State exam on the first try, most school exams are designed to be more difficult to pass than the State exam.

If you took the course in-person at a local real estate course, you will take the proctored final exam there.

Schools usually offer the real estate exam many times, which can work for those who have busy schedules such as work obligations. Typically, that’s once or twice a week.

If you took the course online, you need to contact your online school to determine the location where you can schedule your final exam.

Step 5: Receive the Certificate of Completion

If you pass the school’s final exam, congratulations! You’re on your way to becoming a real estate agent.

The school will show that you passed the test by giving you a certificate of completion.

Both in-person schools and online classes will send you the certificate by mail.

But the online classes are faster, as you may be able to get the certificate by email.

Step 6: Take (and Pass) the New York Real Estate License Exam

After you pass the school exam and received your certificate of completion, you are then able to register for and take the New York State salesperson licensing examination.

New York State requires that you schedule your exam using the New York Department of State’s Occupational Licensing Management System, known as eAccessNY.

What is eAccessNY?

eAccessNY is New York State's online licensing management system.
An agent uses eAccessNY to schedule his or her state licensing exam, submit his license application, and renew his real estate license.

The New York real estate license exam is offered in several languages besides English. These are Spanish, Korean, Russian, and Chinese.

What to Know About the State Exam

Taking the exam is once again convenient. Since the exam is scheduled to take place many times during the year, you can take the exam on your own schedule.

The exam length is 90 minutes and features 75 multiple-choice questions. To pass, you must have a passing grade of 70%.

If you did well on your real estate course exam, you will most likely pass the state-issued exam. That’s because the format is similar to the school exam and also is easier than the course exam, as we indicated above.

You should bring the following to your testing site:

One government-issued valid photo ID

Your “Summary of Your Submission,” or confirmation sheet printed out from when you scheduled the exam, as well as any pertinent exam information.

A calculator

#2 pencils

Once the exam proctors or officials complete the scoring process, you will be notified of whether you passed or failed.

What If You Fail the State Licensing Exam?

If you failed, you can retake the exam again and again until you pass.

Note that each time you take the exam, there’s a $15 exam fee and you must go through the process of reapplying and scheduling for the exam.

Normally exam dates fill up fast, so taking the exam in rapid succession might not be feasible.

Step 7: Find a Sponsoring Broker

Once you complete the state exam, you are only one step away from getting your real estate license.

Your last step is to be sponsored by a licensed broker. New York State requires this step so you can start selling or renting real estate.

Also, without a sponsoring broker, you can’t get an active real estate salesperson agent license in New York.

What is a Sponsoring Broker?

First, brokers are real estate agents but because they have taken and passed a brokerage exam, they tend to be higher in rank than real estate agents.

Second, a sponsoring broker is a licensed broker in the state of New York who works with agents to mentor them.

The newbie real estate agent and the sponsoring broker agree to split the commission on all sales and rentals that the real estate agent has brought into the firm where the sponsoring broker works.

In the process, the real estate agent becomes part of the broker’s brokerage firm.

Which Kind of Broker Do You Want to Partner With?

There are four kinds of licensed brokers for you to choose from.

Residential Rental Broker

Partnering up with a rental broker is easier and less complicated than working with a home sales broker. Since you are starting out, this is the best match.

A rental sale can be completed in a few days or a week, there’s less paperwork and less real estate jargon.

Choosing this route means you can start earning a commission as soon as possible.

Residential Sales Broker

A sales broker receives higher commissions, but the paperwork involved and the completion of the sale are lengthier and more involved.

Commercial Sales Broker

If a piece of residential real estate spans more than four units, that’s considered a commercial sale.

These can include apartment buildings or multi-family properties.

Of all the types of brokers, this is the most complicated and some deals can take well over a year to close.

Some deals can fall through even after a year of hard work and patience.

It’s recommended that you hold off working on commercial sales for a few years.

When you do start selling, it is inevitably worthwhile, as a commission payout can exceed $100,000 per deal.

Commercial Lease Broker

You may also work with a broker that leases office or retail space.

Since commercial sales and leases resemble each other, a leasing broker also has a high commission payout.

Why Is Finding the Right Broker So Important?

Your first year as a real estate agent is important.

You will use all your knowledge from your coursework and exams and apply them to real-world real estate situations.

You’ll need a hand with that because studying is different from actual practice.

The right broker can answer your questions and be there with you each step of the way.

The right broker has the real estate experience to work under you while you learn about the real estate industry.

For example, the right broker can help you get your name out there in the real estate industry of New York and can help you market sales and rentals so that you can start selling or renting.

You need to have a good fit with your broker as you will be at his or her side during this professional relationship.

What Does a Sponsoring Broker Do?

The sponsoring broker is responsible for the agent. With the help of the agent, the broker runs and maintains his brokerage firm. The broker is also responsible for:

Mentoring the agent he or she sponsors.

Holding the license of the agent he sponsors.

Managing eAccessNY, such as making updates when there’s a change of address or broker association.

Collecting commissions on sales or rentals and making sure the agent has his payout.

Providing office space, a computer, and a desk and chair or a cubicle in which to work.

Supervising the agent’s activity to prevent the agent from violating New York state rules and regulations.

If the agent does violate a rule, the sponsoring broker may get in trouble and have to pay a hefty fee to REBNY (The Real Estate Board of New York), if they are a member.

How to Find a Sponsoring Brokerage

It’s hard to find a broker when you are new and have no contacts. But you can ask your instructors at real estate school if they have any leads.

And in most cases, when you attend class, the class will send in recruiters to talk to you about the services they provide, as Melanie Boucos, a licensed real estate salesperson from Berkshire Hathaway suggested.

Many can pick a broker that way.

Another way to find out more is to attend events for people in the real estate industry, mingle with agents, and ask them about their firms.

You might also be interested in joining brokerages you recognize the names of.

It's probably a good sign if you repeatedly see the name of a particular brokerage when you see houses or apartments for sale or rent.

That means that the brokerage's agents and teams are able to get listings and have a name people trust when handling real estate.

How to Select a Brokerage That's Right For You

After asking around, doing some research, or some neighborhood reconnaissance, you might have a few names in mind.

But how do you know if that broker or brokerage is right for you?

First: Decide What Area You Want to Work In

Do you want to work only in a certain neighborhood, a few neighborhoods, or the whole city?

Are you only interested in working with rentals or sales or both?

Is that something the brokerage you're interested in can offer you?

Second: What Is the Commission Structure of the Brokerage?

Commission and pay can vary dramatically in real estate.

Most real estate agents are independent contractors and not employees.

This means your earnings come strictly through commission and referrals. This also means that taxes are not being deducted, nor are you receiving any benefits.

Taxes and managing expenditures are completely dependent on how organized you are.

Some brokerages offered tiered commission splits and others offer one flat split regardless of your gross commission income or your GCI.

Percentages or splits can further convoluted if you join a team, which we'll discuss later, and commissions can mean you collect less than 10% off of any closed deal or upwards of 70%.

Brokers and brokerages almost always collect a part of your commission in exchange for their sponsorship, lending their good name, and offering any support even if it's just nominal.

Can I Collect a Salary From an Agency or Brokerage Instead?

While this isn't as common, it is possible to find a brokerage or position within a brokerage that offers regular hours and a steady paycheck.

Many brokerages, especially large ones like Douglas Elliman, Brown Harris Stevens, Corcoran, and Compass usually have sales or rental offices that they run for major buildings or developments in New York.

A lot of these offices have salaried agents, regular office hours, and may offer benefits.

Just remember that if you decide you need a salaried position, there usually isn't a lot of upward mobility and you're usually limited in how much you can earn.

Furthermore, you won't be collecting any commission.

However, if you're not very good at closing deals or getting listings, you probably won't be earning very much commission at all and you might be better off with a steady income in a rental office.

Large national brokerages like Redfin and PurpleBricks claim to do away with hefty brokerage fees because their agents receive salaries instead of commission.

Thirdly: What Kind of Support Can the Sponsoring Broker Offer You?

This is important because a sponsoring broker can offer you as little as just sponsorship, some legal support, and access to the MLS.

However, a sponsoring broker or brokerage can also offer you as much as a dedicated desk at an office, headshots, a computer, an email address, use of printers, telephones, tech support, a landing page or website, analytics, design support, educational workshops and seminars, a marketing budget, and access to numerous resources.

Fourthly: What Are the Fees Associated With Becoming an Associated Agent?

Many but not all brokerages or agencies have fees or dues their agents must pay. This is normally annual.

As you might have guessed, a broker willing to offer you all the support you need might also ask you for hefty sums in return.

If you join an agency that's a REBNY member, you'll also be required to pay the REBNY fee directly to REBNY.

The fees can equal thousands of dollars each year that you must buy into right off the bat before you even earn a cent.

However, it's not impossible to find a sponsoring broker that won't require you to pay anything and still offer you a desk, email, computer, and even some listings.

And Lastly: Is the Brokerage Accepting Brand New Agents?

After you find a broker, you should call those brokers who seem promising and ask them if they are willing to sponsor you.

Some brokers and brokerages do not contract with brand new agents as a rule because they want only experienced and reputable agents who will start making money for them right from the get-go.

Still, some large brokerages take in brand new agents, so you never know.

You might still also be able to join one of the major brokerages that don't accept new agents by joining one of their teams.

While the brokerage might not be willing to take you directly, large firms usually have a number of teams that work for them.

These teams are allowed to hire brand new agents and associate them with the brokerage.

How Does a Real Estate Team Work?

A team can be as small as two agents or brokers and as large as several dozen agents and brokers, plus staff members.

There can be just one person or a few people who are the team's primary or heads.

Those partnered agents or brokers usually have a commission split agreement among themselves, and separate ones with the agents working under them.

The way teams work can vary dramatically.

It can look like a new agent carrying out simple or particular tasks for a more senior agent or agents and collecting a small percentage on the deals they participated in or shadowing more senior agents.

It can also be as different as a new agent being treated as a fully autonomous agent and receiving a fair split of their commission.

If you're interested in working with a team you should ask a lot of the same questions you would ask a sponsoring broker, including what you'd be expected to do as a new team member.

Pros and Cons of Joining a Real Estate Team as a New Agent

  • A gateway to joining a brokerage that might not otherwise accept you.
  • More likely to offer you proper mentorship and support.
  • Might be an opportunity to work with some of the best brokers or teams.
  • Commission splits or earnings may be low.
  • Tasks assigned may be quite dull and mundane at first.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Real Estate License in New York?

It takes around four months to get a real estate license in New York. 

But it also depends on the time it takes you to complete the required education and the two exams, the school exam and the New York State exam.

If you're committed, it's possible to complete in a month.

Also, it can take time to find the right sponsor.

Getting sponsored may eat up your time since it may be difficult to find the right broker who can mentor you.

What is the Commission Split Between the Broker and the Sponsored?

The standard sales commission in New York is 6%.

The standard split is to split in half the commission between the buyer’s broker, which would be 3%, and the seller’s broker, which is 3%.

5% commission is also relatively common.

However, you can expect to find commission as low as 3% on a deal period for everyone involved--meaning both the seller's and buyer's agents might take away 1.5% (if the selling agent wants to split it 50/50) each.

Remember that the 1.5% is then split with each agent's respective brokerage, whether that's 80/20, 50/50, or 40/60.

As a real estate agent trainee, you might be lucky enough to get a 70/30 split with your broker or team leader but only on deals that you brought in.

Normally, new agents will collect fractions from deals they help out with.

What is the Percentage of the Commission Split Between the Broker and the Sponsored?

The percentages depend on individual agreements but anything from a 50/50 split to a 70/30 split is very common.

On a 70/30 split, this means you can keep 70% of the commission as an agent and the 30% will go to the sponsoring broker.

A sponsoring broker who wants to work with you will offer this more tempting commission rather than going with the 50/50 split.

You can even find brokers that offer 100% commission. However, some of them require that you pay monthly fees, which might still work for you.

What Is Training at a Brokerage Firm Like?

It can be hectic. You find listings through your connections.

But since you won’t have many at this point because you are just starting out, you should use your company’s database to discover listings.

Then you have to create ads for the listings, which can take a long time.

If you’ve marketed well, you may just land your first potential client. Then you need to find listings for the client.

But there are many pitfalls when dealing with clients that can be frustrating.

A client may want a private showing of a condo but then cancel the appointment at the last moment.

A client may love an apartment and will tell you they want to rent it, but then disappear.

Some clients like to negotiate the broker’s fee even after you tell them upfront what your cost is.

Then you have to start all over again from scratch. And all the paperwork involved in a real estate transaction.

The Pros of Becoming a Real Estate Agent in New York

Let's look at some of the reasons why people find becoming a real estate agent an attractive prospect and see what this career can offer you.


You’ll spend long hours on weekends to show properties.

But the flexibility of the job makes up for it. You can set your own schedule because you are your own boss.

That means, on weekdays, you can spend more time with your family or children and by working around your real estate schedule.

Virtually Unlimited Income Potential

One of the greatest advantages of becoming a real estate agent is the unlimited income potential.

Since real estate agents work for a commission, there’s no cap on how much they can earn.

Unlike a 9-5 job with a steady salary.

While that position comes with security and certainty, as an agent you get to decide how much you make by deciding on how many clients you want to take on during a given month.

You Can Help People Find Their Dream Home

There are personal rewards you get to experience.

Especially if you are a people person, you can help people find their dream home so they can make their own memories.

Being part of that can be emotional and exciting.

Career Mobility

There are boundless opportunities within the real estate industry.

If you put in your time and become good at what you do, you can create your own business and hire and hand-pick your staff.

And that means you can be the boss!

Become a Community Expert

New York City has so many different neighborhoods and each one is different.

From the moneyed Park Avenue to the trendy Tribeca, if you start to sell in a specific area, over time you can become an expert in the community you choose.

You can impress your clients with how well you know the area.

Good school system? Check. Nearest train station? Check? Nearest Daniel Boulud restaurant? Check.

The Cons of Becoming a Real Estate Agent in New York

While becoming a real estate may sound exciting there are some very harsh realities most agents will face at one time or another.

Lack of a Steady Income

With a lack of a steady income, while being a new agent, it can take a while until you receive your first commission.

So, if you’re not selling a house, you’re not getting a paycheck.

Plus, you have to file 1099, which means you won’t receive health insurance from your broker and have to keep track of all your expenses for tax purposes.

Even very experienced and fairly successful agents and brokers can have periods where they have a dry spell.

It Takes a Lot of Hard Work

It’s hard work to be a real estate agent.

You are at your client’s beck and call, you need to be always advertising, you need to keep searching for clients to make money, and your weekends are shot because you have to conduct open houses.

Not only that, a client meeting usually takes place on weekday evenings and weekends, so forget about family time.

According to Boucos, “You not only have to learn how to maximize your time, but you also have to learn the tech side of things. Every brokerage has a different technology platform.”

You have to also learn how to search for listings in the company’s database and how to put files together.

You Might Face a Lot of Rejection

Some new real estate agents face a lot of rejection in the first year they practice.

But since they are prospecting perfect strangers, they shouldn’t feel let down.

These potential clients don’t know you. If you take rejection personally, you’re not in the right business.

You'll Meet a Lot of Difficult People

Sure, a pro of being a real estate agent is helping clients find their dream home. But it’s hard to work with people even if you are a “people person.”

You'll be meeting a lot of people from all walks of life, and some of them can be very difficult.

Agents interact with other agents, brokers, clients, or third parties.

They may have different worldviews that clash with your own beliefs. Agents may have to deal with another agent who is crass, pushy, rude, or is a diva.

Also, agents are working with buyers and sellers during one of the most stressful periods of their lives. You need to ask yourself if you can handle different people at their worst.

If you can put aside your personality to work with certain people, then you should be okay. But it will still be hard. Everyone has their own scruples and morals that may not align with yours.

If You Don’t Differentiate Yourself, You Won’t Find Clients

In New York City there are many brokerage firms to choose from and many real estate sales agents to use.

As such, a new agent can get lost in the crowd and be unable to find clients.

This is a major drawback of being a new agent.

However, if an agent works hard to differentiate him or herself, the agent will find clients in no time.

To accomplish this, becoming a community expert, as described above, will help you stand out.

So too will finding your niche.

For example, say you’ll specialize in selling condos and townhouses in Morningside Heights. Or say you mainly work with a particular type of buyer.

As Boucos added, finding clients depends on the brokerage you choose and the types of listings they offer.

“If agents have access to exclusive listings it definitely makes it easier, but most importantly, you just need to learn which advertising platforms help generate the most leads.”

You'll Never Have Your Weekends Free

This is a dreaded part of being an agent. However, there's no way around it if you want to work in real estate.

The weekends are when your clients have time and that's when most appointments for showings are made and when most open houses take place.

If you want any downtime for friends or family over the weekend, you'll need to prioritize that time and redirect clients to different days and times.

However, that could also mean that you lose those clients.

On the one hand, you'll probably do better if you work all weekends but on the other hand it'll also mean that you won't be able to attend your child's weekend soccer games.

This can also be an issue if you have a partner or spouse that you don't see during the week due to work because now, you won't really see them over the weekend either.

7 Ways That Can Help You Become a Successful Agent

As a new real estate agent, you can expect that the first year in which you start work will be difficult.

To survive, you need to set yourself up for success and survival is usually very difficult.

You commonly hear in NY real estate that 70%-80% of new agents quit the industry altogether by the first year.

If you have patience, if you can save enough money while trying to make your first commission, or if you can work on your people skills, for example, you may just come up with a winning formula that will allow you to succeed even when you spend months at an agency without income.

Here are the top six ways in which to succeed when you’re new to the game.

Constantly Work on Expanding Your Network

The most successful agents and brokers in the field know everyone.

Many of the highest-grossing rookie agents succeeded because they came into the industry with a huge Rolodex or were already community fixtures.

Once you have an established reputation as someone smart, well-connected, hardworking, and trustworthy most people will be happy to refer you to everyone they know.

The best agents never stop expanding their network. You do not have to attend sale seminars or networking events to do this.

It's as simple as attending community events, getting to know your neighbors, volunteering, joining your kid's school PTA board, or joining a meetup group.

Taking soup to a sick neighbor can even end up with getting several good leads!

Keep Both the Seller and Buyer Talking

When buying property, what usually happens is that the seller won’t get their full asking price and will hold out for a figure that is more profitable to him.

As for the buyer, the buyer submits an offer lower than the seller’s price but can’t purchase the property until he meets or exceeds the seller’s price.

A real estate agent knows that to set herself up for success, she must keep both sides talking while she negotiates a price until both parties come to a deal that is fair and which they both can live with it.

Focus Yourself on Your Soft Skills

A new real estate agent who can set herself up for success knows that an integral part of selling a property is that she must have poise and a good demeanor when things get out of control, such as a stubborn seller who has received multiple offers but will only sell at the seller’s asking price.

She must also know how to talk to a client as if she was their therapist because the client can get emotional after finding her dream house and then having to negotiate to buy it.

A good agent knows how to cheer up the client and never shows the kind of emotions that buyers often have.

Other soft skills are self-motivation and problem-solving.

But above all, great customer service is super important. As Boucos pointed out, “the more comfortable your clients feel with you, the more they want to work with you and also send referrals.”

Focus on the Details

For new real estate agents, the key to success before selling is to focus on their ability to write descriptions about listings that are compelling to attract buyers.

Also, concentrating on your photography skills will go a long way. If you can take great pictures of properties for sale, that will lure in potential homebuyers.

Have a Backup Source of Income

You can realistically expect to go many months without an income after you start work as an agent.

To set yourself up for success, you should have at least six months of money saved up before you make your first sale and get a commission.

If you don’t have enough funds to make everyday expenses or to pay your mortgage and taxes, you should either keep your day job for a while or else opt to work part-time as an agent.

Work with a Top-Notch Agency

Do your best to work with a top-notch agency with a winning reputation. After all, the credentials of your agency are your credentials as well.

Being part of a business with a great reputation can be very valuable when you first start.

Sometimes, it's all about name recognition.

Some developers, landlords, or sellers will want to work immediately with you just because you are with a particular firm.

Never Let a Lead Go to Waste

Whether the lead you get is from an open house attendee, an email inquiry, or a friend of a friend that's looking for a place, always track them down and contact them.

Do not waste the opportunity of someone who showed interest.

Do you know a homeowner? Believe it or not, even if they aren't looking to buy or sell at the moment, they're a potential lead as some time down the line, they may be looking to do just that.

Even if you end not being able to help them or they change their mind, keep them in your contacts and periodically contact them after a year or a few months to see if you can help them.

Some agents even send holiday or birthday cards, connect over social media, or send occasional email newsletters, not to just these leads, but past clients as well.

Your communication doesn't even need to be directly about real estate, just a nudge and reminder to them that you are there.

Read on: How to Use ACRIS to Grow Your Real Estate Business in New York

Who is Being a Real Estate Agent Right For?

It’s important to choose a position that best fits your personality and career goals.

A person who is right for being a real estate agent has the following traits.

Good agents are those who are very people-savvy and know how to deal with various personality types.

The right person who will make it as a real estate agent is someone who can be everything to everybody.

The agent is a negotiator, a therapist, and an adviser to the client.

There can be a lot of hand-holding and a lot of questions on the buyer’s part if the buyer finds her or her dream house.

Agents must know every question the buyer asks to ensure they come off in the best light and to show how knowledgeable they are.

After all, who would respect an agent who fumbles when asked a question? So, confidence is also key.

They must be resilient too. If a client needs to see twenty properties, the agent will show them all with aplomb.

Also, the job is right for those who can be assertive when selling but never aggressive.

No one likes a too-eager agent, and it gives off an unflattering light, making the agent look like a car salesperson, which perpetuates the stereotype that an agent is sleazy.

Also, a real estate agent needs to be responsive.

You need to answer calls from clients in a timely matter. You need to return emails promptly. Responsive communication is non-negotiable. If you can’t treat your clients as a priority, you are not right for this job.

Lastly, the traits that a good agent has must be entirely authentic.

If you are just putting on a persona, clients with a good ear will be able to see that. You can’t fake it, but you can learn it all if you want to succeed as an agent.

But it’s better if you were born with it. That way, you can be your natural self. You’re not playing a role.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps to become a licensed real estate agent in New York?

The seven steps include: 1. Meet the Basic Eligibility Requirements 2. Take the 75-hour Real Estate Pre-Licensing Course 3. Pass the Background Check 4. Pass the 75-Hour Course Real Estate Exam 5. Receive the Certificate of Completion 6. Take the New York Real Estate License Exam 7. Find a Sponsoring Broker

What are the eligibility requirements to become a real estate agent in NYC?

The basic eligibility requirements are: 1. You need to be a U.S. citizen or have a government-issued signature identification card that must be photo-bearing. 2. You must have a valid social security number. 3. You must pass a background check and have a clean record. 4. You must be at least 18 years of age and hold at least a high school diploma.

What is a sponsoring broker?

A sponsoring broker is a licensed broker in the state of New York who works with agents to mentor them. The newbie real estate agent and the sponsoring broker agree to split the commission on all sales and rentals that the real estate agent has brought into the firm where the sponsoring broker works. In the process, the real estate agent becomes part of the broker’s brokerage firm.

Do you need a sponsoring broker in NYC?

Yes, state law requires all real estate agents to work a sponsoring broker.

How long does it take to get a real estate license in NYC?

It takes around four months to get a real estate license in New York.  But it also depends on the time it takes you to complete the required education and the two exams, the school exam and the New York State exam. If you're committed, it's possible to complete in a month.

What is the commission split between the broker and the sponsored?

The standard sales commission in New York is 6%. The standard split is to split in half the commission between the buyer’s broker, which would be 3%, and the seller’s broker, which is 3%.

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Augustine Reyes Chan
About the author

As a real estate professional, Augustine Reyes Chan has helped many buyers and sellers through the process of homeownership. He is an expert in the field of how-to for potential buyers, qualifying for a mortgage, and all that goes into car, homeowners, and renters insurance. Augustine Reyes Chan graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Bachelor's degree in Sociology.