Real estate is one of the largest sectors of any economy and careers in real estate involve sale, management and analysis of land and properties. The gamut of activities for those involved in a real estate career may include selling of commercial and residential property, appraisal and research as well as real estate counseling and investment management.
With so many lucrative avenues to choose from, it is little wonder that real estate professions are widely sought after. Most real estate career opportunities are entrepreneurial and need the right mix of analytical skills, interpersonal relations and drive.
Real estate career opportunity
Property Management: This involves getting maximum revenue for property by managing rental flow, retaining tenants and overlooking property operations. This would encompass cleaning, maintenance and repairs and paying bills. Facility management and leasing decisions have to be taken by the property manager. This is generally an on-site job and involves close interaction with tenants and utility personnel. With the increasing trend towards absentee property ownership, the need for property management professionals will be on the rise.
Real estate agent / broker: A real estate agent for residential and commercial property aids in the buying and selling process. It is essential for real estate agents to have a thorough knowledge of real estate laws of the state, housing laws and financing schemes for property purchase. They earn commission on the value of sales that they have initiated. Those looking for residential or commercial property meet a real estate agent and seek their services.
The agent must be aware of the kind of property the client is looking for and the budget outlay. Estate agents would have to show clients different houses before they make a final choice. The real estate agent oversees the paperwork and legal formalities that are involved in property sales. A career of this sort requires considerable time spent outside the office showing houses and property to buyers.
Real estate agents are independent sales people who provide their services to a licensed real estate broker on a contractual basis. A portion of the commission is given to the agent. Brokers are involved in the sale and purchase of real estate and management of the property too. The onus of arranging meetings of prospective buyers and sellers lies on the real estate broker who undertakes title search and other legal formalities.
Real estate appraiser: An appraiser needs to analyze and interpret market conditions to arrive at an estimated value for a property. This involves a series of tasks ranging from collection of relevant data to statistical analysis and report preparation. This is yet another real estate career opportunity that can stimulate self-employment. Some appraisers work for lending institutions and banks.
Mortgage finance: A career in real estate financing involves loan origination, underwriting and servicing the secondary market too. A career in real estate mortgage financing requires clear understanding of financial technicalities and parameters as well as astute credit analysis.
Career in real estate
As any real estate career guide would tell you, there are varied career opportunities within the field and you should choose one that suits your personality and academic profile. Those interested in sales can work as real estate agents or brokers. Property acquisition and analysis involves specialized education and training. It is possible for real estate personnel to conduct most of their work from the office premises.
Many of them work out of their homes. The Internet allows them to retrieve property information easily. The work hours are long and sometimes irregular. Real estate firms can range from one-man operations to large organizations employing several hundred agents. Some brokers work as franchise for national or regional real estate organizations. Many women homemakers take up real estate sales jobs on account of the flexible nature of the work and the possibilities of balancing it with their family responsibilities.
Based on figures for 2003, earnings for real estate agents varied from $21,010 and $52,860 a year. Brokers earned anywhere from $29,240 and $90,170 a year. Most of the earnings are in the form of commissions. The type of property and its value along with the rate of commission determines the agent's remuneration. Commissions are usually higher on commercial land and farm property vis-Ã -vis residential property. The increasing use of technology may hamper the growth of employment opportunities for real estate professionals.
It may eliminate some marginal agents, such as those practicing real estate part-time or temporarily between jobs. Vast amounts of data and research on a property can be collected over the Internet. Computer generated virtual images are used by realtor offices to give the clients a realistic view of the property.
Training for a real estate career
Different branches of real estate require certain skills that would suit the job profile. Those who are working with appraisals and mortgage lending as well as property management must be well versed with financial indices and must possess strong analytical skills. Real estate brokers and agents need to be proficient in negotiation skills. Good interpersonal relations and verbal skills are of utmost importance.
All careers within the sphere of real estate are entrepreneurial and require good business acumen. It is important to keep abreast of business trends and tax laws. Town planning, zoning regulations and other issues that might have a bearing on the real estate scenario must be taken cognizance of. Many colleges and universities offer varied courses in real estate and related fields. Licensing is essential so as to take up a career in real estate. State licenses need to be renewed and it is the responsibility of the brokers and agents to verify licensing requirements.
All states within the U.S. have their own written examination for prospective salespersons and brokers. Self-motivation and perseverance are the cornerstones of success in any real estate career venture. The potential for high financial gains can be tapped by those who can focus on their goals and work accordingly. Real estate careers can offer some flexibility in timings, choice of environment and autonomy. To be successful in a real estate career, it is essential to be conversant with the emerging electronic technology and software applications that are being increasingly used in the real estate business world.
To become a real estate broker in the U.S, you must be a high school graduate who has passed the written test on property laws and real estate transactions. The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM conducts training programs such as Certified Property Manager (CPM) and Accredited Residential Manager (ARM). Some real estate firms conduct formal training sessions for their staff. The National Association of Realtors conducts courses on the fundamental and legal aspects of the business.