Table of Contents Show
- Should You Become a Real Estate Agent in NYC?
- Be “Generally” Qualified.
- How Long Does Becoming a Real Estate Agent in New York Take?
- Complete the State Exam and License Application
- Choosing a Real Estate Brokerage to Sponsor Your License
- Being a Real Estate Agent
- Building a Client Base
- Continuing Education and Professional Development
- Number of Licensed Agents in NYC
- Why NYC Real Estate Agents Should Join REBNY
- The Bottom Line
Entering the world of a real estate agent is not for everyone in New York City. The market is fiercely competitive, and most new agents wash out in the first year. However, if you can tough it out, handle the workload, and make it through your first year, the sky can be the limit in what you can earn.
Should You Become a Real Estate Agent in NYC?Should You Become a Real Estate Agent in NYC?
Being a real estate agent looks like an easy gig to most outsiders. You need to find a listing, sell a listing, use every trick to make a buyer sign the contract, and then wait to receive thousands of dollars in commission fees. Easy, right?
Not exactly – being a real estate agent in New York City is a tough business, filled with hidden costs, clients who cancel last minute, and listings that don’t sell. The best agents work crazy long days and weekends, are incredibly dedicated, and are always on their feet and the phone chasing down new leads and following up with clients. To become a successful real estate listing or buyer’s agent, you need extensive market knowledge, be on call 24-7, and have enough savings to hold you up for long periods without any cash flow.
So do some soul-searching and consider the pros and cons before you take the following steps:So do some soul-searching and consider the pros and cons before you take the following steps:
- Be “generally” qualified.
- Find a class (online or in a classroom) and complete the 75 hours of class time and the in-class exam.
- Register at the NYS Department of Licensing to complete the state test.
- Choose a real estate firm.
- Work yourself up to the ladder.
Steps 1-3 are pretty straightforward. It’s steps four and especially five that things start to get complicated. So now, let’s break down each of the four stages.
This is the decade to achieve your dreams. Get up each day with a purpose. Set goals and don’t let anything get in your way. You can achieve greatness you just have to work for it.
Gea Elika, Principal, Elika Real Estate
Be “Generally” Qualified.Be “Generally” Qualified.
As stated in the licensing law (referred to by brokers as “Article 12-A“), to be a real estate agent, you must be over 18, have no felony record, and be current on any child support. However, if you have a felony, you may still be able to get a license. That decision is up to the New York Department of State. The DOS will consider the nature of the felony, the license you desire, and the court disposition papers.
How Long Does Becoming a Real Estate Agent in New York Take?How Long Does Becoming a Real Estate Agent in New York Take?
It’s reasonably easy to get a real estate license in New York compared to other states. You only need to complete 75 hours of an accredited real estate course. By comparison, in Texas, you need to complete 180 hours. You can take the course online or in a classroom at a real estate school. An online course lets you go at your own pace, but there’s something nice about attending a school and meeting your classmates. You might even make valuable connections that will help you in your first years in the industry. At a minimum, a licensing course will cover the following:
- Basic principles of real estate
- Commercial and investment properties
- Law of agency
- Mortgage and loans
- Human rights and fair housing
- Real estate finance, construction
- Condominiums and cooperatives
- Environmental issues
- Work ethics
You’ll have to take an in-class exam at the end of the course. If you pass, you can take the state exam and acquire your license once you find a sponsoring broker.
Complete the State Exam and License ApplicationComplete the State Exam and License Application
You have a course certificate but must take the state exam with the NYS Department of Licensing before working. A little more daunting as only a handful of state exams are scheduled each season. For New Yorkers without a car, Franklin Square on Long Island and the Financial District in Manhattan is the only convenient locations. However, places for these sites can fill up months in advance, so plan.
The 100-question test is pretty easy, with most of the questions presented in a “which of these things is not like the other” way. A quick search online can bring up practice exams and sample questions to help you prepare. Before taking the exam, you must register for the exam using the e-Access system before taking it. There’s a $15 fee to take the exam and a non-refundable $50 to apply for your license. To pass, you have to get a score of at least 70. If all goes well, you should have your real estate sales license within a few days.
If you plan on working in states besides New York, you need to know the real estate reciprocity and portability laws for New York. At present, New York has a reciprocity agreement with nine states:
- West Virginia
Choosing a Real Estate Brokerage to Sponsor Your LicenseChoosing a Real Estate Brokerage to Sponsor Your License
Your career in real estate will depend, to a large extent, on the firm you choose. Most people drop out in the first year because they picked the wrong one. When deciding on the right brokerage to work for, you must consider the pros and cons of the two types: large and small.
Also, regardless of the type of brokerage you choose, there are a few main things you’ll want to know when selecting one, such as the commission split, what expenses you’ll need to cover, and what kinds of leads you can expect. Their goals should align with yours, so weigh your options carefully.
Large BrokeragesLarge Brokerages
A large brokerage is a company that sells the right to use its name, branding, and business model to agents. Your commission is shared with your sponsoring broker/company based on a performance-based split for each deal you close as an agent. Most of these large brokerages have their own rules and regulations. Be sure to read them carefully before signing anything.
Instant CredibilityInstant Credibility
Brand recognition is the most significant advantage to large brokerages and is why most new agents choose to work for them. They’ve already done the hard work of building the brand. A reputation like that can go a long way in helping new agents establish trust with potential clients.
Multiple OfficesMultiple Offices
Large brokerages tend to be companies with tens, if not hundreds, offices across the state. It is then easy for you to relocate to other city offices convenient for your clients.
Because of their size, large brokerages tend to get discounts on software and tech support. As a result, you access top-shelf transaction management software, CRM software, and real estate calculators. Having tech support is also a massive plus, as it means you’ll spend less time figuring out why something isn’t working and more time selling real estate.
Their size makes them impersonal – Some agents, especially new ones, feel that large brokerages’ size makes them impersonal. They’re not as concerned with personal growth and development as small brokerages.
Boutique BrokeragesBoutique Brokerages
In contrast to large real estate brokerages, small brokerages are generally owned by a small company and managed by a single broker. But don’t be fooled; smaller doesn’t mean less successful. On the contrary, a well-managed one can often punch well above its weight.
More Individual AttentionMore Individual Attention
These firms are much smaller, meaning each agent’s contribution makes a difference to the company’s bottom line. They tend to spend more time showing the ropes to new agents.
Less Competition for LeadsLess Competition for Leads
Since fewer people work at the firm than at a large brokerage, the competition for leads is much less intense. As a result, it’s standard for experienced agents to let the newbies handle most prospects.
More FlexibilityMore Flexibility
A smaller workforce means less red tape and no corporate office to answer to. Policies and best practices can be changed overnight, making them flexible in an evolving market.
More TeamworkMore Teamwork
A smaller workforce translates into closer integration. Boutique brokerages are more team-oriented, with all the agents ready to help one another at every opportunity. Such a supportive environment starkly contrasts the sometimes cold atmosphere of large brokerages.
Smaller Budgets – A smaller company means a more modest budget, meaning less advertising and tech support money.
Smaller Brand – Depending on how long they’ve been in the game, they may have less recognition outside their immediate neighborhood. Establishing trust with high-end clients could be challenging to sell.
Being a Real Estate AgentBeing a Real Estate Agent
The most challenging part is making it as a real estate agent. Expect significant start-up fees (ads, business cards, desk rental fees, etc.), working five, six, or seven days a week without a guaranteed income, and dealing with sometimes flaky and challenging clients. In addition, the closing can take four or so months after an accepted offer in NYC, so be prepared to wait a while before you can pick up your first commission check.
Being a real estate agent is like owning your own business. If the baker does not show up at 5 am there would be no bread to sell. You must stay committed, focused and persistent in building your career. Passion, hard work a code of ethics and customer service are the key components for long term success. Education is your greatest asset, never stop learning to stay ahead of your competition.
Gea Elika, Principal, Elika Real Estate
Becoming a real estate agent is something you learn on the job. The job is where you will get the experience and feel for it. Your training course may have schooled you in the theory of it. Good coaching and mentoring are a must in your first year. When starting, this should be a top priority when choosing a brokerage.
Lastly, make friends. For real estate agents, contacts are everything, so put yourself out there. Be aware that everyone you meet is potentially helpful in later years. Even top real estate agents with years in the business still have mentors they admire. The same goes for attorneys, contractors, and architects you will meet.
Building a Client BaseBuilding a Client Base
Building a solid client base in a competitive market like NYC is crucial to your success as a real estate agent. Utilize various marketing strategies to attract potential clients, such as creating a professional website, leveraging social media, networking with other professionals in the industry, and attending real estate events and open houses.
Providing exceptional customer service and going the extra mile for your clients will help you build a positive reputation and earn referrals, vital for long-term success in the real estate business.
Continuing Education and Professional DevelopmentContinuing Education and Professional Development
The real estate industry is ever-evolving, so staying up-to-date with the latest trends, laws, and technologies is essential. Continuing education courses are a requirement for license renewal in New York and can also help you enhance your skills and knowledge.
Consider joining real estate organizations and attending workshops and seminars to expand your network and gain insights from experienced professionals. Staying informed and continuously improving your skills will set you apart in a competitive market like NYC.
Number of Licensed Agents in NYCNumber of Licensed Agents in NYC
As of my last update in September 2021, New York City had over 27,000 licensed real estate agents. Please note that this number may have changed since then due to new licenses being issued or agents leaving the industry.
Why NYC Real Estate Agents Should Join REBNYWhy NYC Real Estate Agents Should Join REBNY
Joining the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) offers NYC real estate agents many benefits. As a member, agents gain access to a vast network of industry professionals, fostering valuable connections and potential business opportunities. REBNY provides exclusive market data and educational programs, helping agents stay ahead in a competitive market and maintain high expertise. Being part of REBNY allows agents to contribute to essential advocacy efforts that shape policies and regulations in the NYC real estate industry. Membership also signifies a commitment to ethical standards and professionalism, boosting client credibility and trustworthiness. Additionally, REBNY offers marketing platforms, recognition through awards, and the chance to participate in influential events, all contributing to agents’ success in the NYC real estate market.