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5 Tips to Get Started in Real Estate

Being a real estate agent is a career path many people choose. Why? Because there are numerous financial, lifestyle, and personal benefits. However, as with most things of value, acquiring a real estate license in Alabama requires time and the willingness to learn. 

Obtaining your real estate license involves connecting with other real estate professionals and working under a brokerage. This will require research on brokerages in your area and understand what goes into selecting a broker you are confident working with.

The key to success in real estate is to have a comprehensive understanding of what you will need and what will be expected of you. 

1. Understand Real Estate Education and Licensing Requirements

All in all, becoming a realtor isn’t that big of a time commitment—especially compared to other fields of work.


In Alabama, you: 

  • Must be at least 19 years old
  • Need to have proof of residency in the U.S.
  • Have to have proof of high school graduation or the equivalent
  • Cannot have been convicted of a felony or crime
  • Must not have had a real estate application or license rejected within the previous two years (in any state)

Licensing Requirements

  1. Pre-licensing Education. This includes a minimum 60 hour pre-licensing course and a practice test. 
  1. Final Exam. The final exam must be completed and passed within 6 months of your course material start date. The minimum passing score is 70%.
  1. Alabama Real Estate Salesperson Exam. This includes both an Alabama state portion (40 questions and 60 minutes) and a national portion (100 questions and 150 minutes.) The minimum passing score is, again, 70%.
  1. Application for Alabama State License.  After you’ve completed your course material and passed your final exam, you are free to apply for your Alabama State Real Estate License which includes a criminal history release form and fingerprinting. This must be done within 90 days of completing your exam. 
  1. Post-License Training Course. Once you have been issued your real estate license, you have 12 months to complete a 30 hour post-license training course. Once that is complete, you will get your permanent license! 
  1. Continuing Education. Once you are a practicing real estate agent, all that’s required of you to maintain your license is 15 hours of classes every two years. 

2. Plan for Start Up Costs

Although start up costs do vary from person to person, you can pretty much count on spending anywhere from $500-$600 for your required course work and your license.

That doesn’t include additional costs that come with any exam prep courses you choose to do, continuing education required by the broker you ultimately work with, or marketing materials and other business costs.

Here’s a rough breakdown of costs you can expect when getting your real estate license:

  • Pre-licensing Courses and Final Exam: $300-$400
  • License Fee (includes fingerprinting, background check, and licensing exam): $220

Other costs to consider are:

  • Test Prep Courses: prep courses aren’t required in order to get your license but any additional prep you do to get you ready for your exam could increase your chances of passing. Since you pay each time you take the exam, the sooner you pass, the better.
  • Broker Fees: as a real estate agent, you will work under a broker who will take a percentage of the money you make on each sale. They might also require you to do supplementary training, charge for office space, marketing, etc. This amount varies greatly depending on your training and the broker you work with.
  • Marketing Materials. Website design, business cards, advertisements, open house signs, etc. You can spend as much or as little as you like, but the more up front work you can do, the faster you’ll see success. 

It takes the average real estate agent 3-6 months to build a trusted client base and gain enough experience to earn a living wage. Although this does depend on the broker you work with, their connections, and the value of properties in your area, it’s best to set aside some seed money to give yourself a little bit of time to get your real estate career rolling!

3. Interview Prospective Brokers and Identify a Mentor or Training Program

As a real estate agent, you will work under a broker. A broker is a real estate supervisor who is licensed to oversee transactions and make sure their real estate agents follow legal and ethical standards. 

Although you do work under the supervision of a broker, the broker you choose to work with is ultimately up to you! Here are some questions to consider when narrowing down your brokerage search:

  • What is their reputation, locally and nationally?
  • Are they associated with the National Association of Realtors?
  • What kind of agents are they looking for?
  • What is the commission split?
  • Is their technology up to date?
  • Do they offer benefits?
  • How do they support their agents with mentorship, training, and events?
  • What is their team atmosphere?
  • Do they provide high quality listings/marketing material?
  • Is there room to grow within the brokerage?

The key is to be thorough, have conversations with multiple brokers, and ask questions!  Remember, you are interviewing the broker just as much as they are interviewing you. You want a good match so that everyone is happy and you can continue on to a successful and fulfilling real estate career.

4. Select and Join a Real Estate Brokerage

Once you’ve asked all of the necessary questions, it’s time to determine what exactly is important to you. Do you want to work for a franchise or independent brokerage? What kind of commission split are you comfortable with? What type of brokerage culture do you want to be a part of? What kind of support do you expect from your broker? It’s important to find a balance between your needs and whether or not a broker will meet them.

Remember also that joining a brokerage can cost you anywhere from $25-$500+ per month depending on desk fees, tech fees, business cards, marketing materials, and other business costs. Not to mention ongoing expenses such as license renewal, continued education, etc.

It’s up to you to do a cost/benefit analysis so that you can select the brokerage that’s just right for you!

5. Create a Business Plan

As most entrepreneurs know, the key to a successful business is a detailed business plan. You should clearly define your goals and analyze those goals after every month. This includes money earned, number of leads and appointments set, marketing and its effects, etc.

Here are some other keys to a successful business:

  • Organize your influences. Enter your SOI (sphere of influence) into an organized database to include names, numbers, and emails. The more organized you are, the better you can utilize those contacts.
  • Nail down your schedule. Every single thing you do during your work day should be intentional. You should set larger goals but it’s important to break down those goals into tasks which seem more achievable. Nailing down a daily schedule can really help you lock in what works for you or adjust accordingly.
  • Track your progress. Measuring the progress you’re making towards growing your business can give you a visual on whether you’re moving quickly or growing slowly. Having this information in front of you can give you a more concrete idea of how you might adjust your schedule to get, or stay, on track.
  • Write 20-25 cards per week. Building personal connections with potential clients is key. Handwritten cards may seem tedious but they will leave a lasting impression on the receiver. 
  • Have conversations. Create a goal to talk to 5-10 people every day about what you do. Again, connections are key!
  • Get involved in your community. The best way you can expand your SOI is to get involved in the community. That could mean volunteering, sponsoring an event, adopting a roadway, etc. This builds trust by showing your commitment to the community.

Is Amanda Howard Sotheby’s International Realty the Right Fit for You?

At Amanda Howard Sotheby’s International Realty, we are always looking to add valued real estate agents to our team so that we can better serve the Northern Alabama region. 

Not only do we provide exclusive training and events, but we also provide unparalleled services with our first in class technology and marketing!

We offer: 

  • One-on-one training with Amanda Howard
  • Mentorship opportunities with tenured agents
  • Exclusive events brought to you by Sotheby’s International Realty or through Amanda’s many contacts
  • Close partnerships with lenders, insurance agencies, and title companies
  • Unrivaled marketing and innovative technology 

Contact us today to learn more!

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