If you’ve ever thought about becoming a real estate agent in the State of Georgia, this article is going to be for you. Our article will provide every resource that you need. Take the leap and start your new career today!
Throughout this article we will discuss the the individual steps to becoming a real estate agent in Georgia. Topics from choosing a class to selecting a broker will be discussed. We will also discuss the differences between the many real estate companies (brokerages), and their commission splits. These choices and decisions are essential for your career growth.
Why the Real Estate Career
Real estate is a great industry because it allows people to work directly for themselves. Agents therefore reap the benefits of their hard work directly. Unlike any other industry, real estate is a pure meritocracy. This means that what you put in to your business, you will get back based on your work. Real estate also gives people the flexibility and freedom to live their lives as they’ve always dreamed.
Real Estate Licenses
Types of Real Estate Licenses
Understand the different types of real estate licenses before you start real estate school. There are two main types of licenses for real estate professionals in Georgia.
Sales Person Real Estate License
The first, and most common, is the sales person’s license. The sales person’s license is what all new real estate agents obtain. The requirements for the sales license are a score of 75 on the GA real estate pre-license course. The pre-license course must be approved by the State of Georgia Real Estate Commission. Furthermore, a candidate must get a criminal background check, have a high school graduation certificate, and be over 18 years of age. More information on the requirements for the sales person’s license is on this website www.grec.state.ga.us.
Broker Real Estate License
The second type of real estate license in Georgia is the broker license. To qualify for a broker license, a candidate must have qualified for, and held a Georgia sales person’s license for the last three out of five years. The candidate must also score 60/100 or more on the Georgia broker pre-license course and state exam.
The Difference Between “Broker” and “Associate Broker”
Each real estate firm in the State of Georgia must name one broker responsible for the firm. The responsible broker is called the “Broker in Charge,” or “Principal Broker.” The Principal Broker sets policies for the firm, and ensures compliance with local and State laws.
“Associate Brokers” are all other real estate professionals with a Georgia broker license in the same firm. Associate Brokers operate under the discretion of their Principal Broker.
Real Estate Pre-License Education and Exam
Real estate pre-licensure classes are easy to attend in Georgia. The classes are both in an online format and in-person. Various real estate schools have a variety of options you can choose from.
Online Real Estate Pre-License Education
The online real estate pre-license class is a great option for people with irregular daily schedules. Online courses are self-directed. Nevertheless, the online courses have a lower pass rate on Georgia real estate license exams.
In-Class Real Estate Pre-License Education
The in-class real estate pre-license class is an option that is good for people who can attend on a regular class schedule. There are also weekend cram courses to review pre-licensure material right before taking the license exam. The in-person classes typically have a faster completion of materials with a historically higher pass rate.
How Long does the Pre-License Education Take?
The real estate pre-license course takes a minimum of 75 hours to complete. Once the course is complete, they must pass the real estate pre-license school’s course test. The candidate can take the Georgia exam after they pass the pre-license school’s test.
Pre-License Education School Tuition Assistance
Sellect Realty has a discounted tuition to interested Georgia real estate sales person license candidates. A $75 discount is available to these individuals by contacting Sellect Realty in Marietta, GA. The discount is only valid with Barney Fletcher Schools in Georgia.
Sellect Realty also offers Georgia real estate sales person pre-license class tuition assistance to U.S. military veterans for their service. For more information on U.S. Military tuition assistance, contact Sellect Realty at 770-509-0265.
Registering for the Real Estate Licensing Exam
Once you have successfully completed the real estate pre-license course, you can register to take the real estate sales person license exam. AMP Testing administers the exam in Georgia. Your real estate school will give you specific details on how to register for the licensing test.
Test Day Materials
You will need several items on the day of the test.
Valid driver’s license
Lawful presence there affidavit
Broker sponsor letter (if you have chosen a brokerage already).
Broker Sponsor Letter
If you choose a brokerage before you take the state licensing test, the broker will give you a sponsor letter. The sponsor letter will move a license to their brokerage if the exam has a passing score. The letter decreases license processing time, and you will not need to return to the testing facility if you choose a brokerage after the exam.
What if I Choose a Brokerage After I Pass the Exam?
If you have not selected a brokerage by the time that you take the test and pass the exam, your license is called an “active” license. Take the time to interview brokerages to find the right fit for you. Notify your testing facility once you make a decision to work with a brokerage. The testing facility will transfer the license to the chosen brokerage. For more information, visit www.goamp.com.
Finding a Brokerage to Work With
Find a broker you feel confident will help you grow. This may be one of the most difficult points in starting your real estate career. Real estate agents are considered independent contractors. Therefore, it is important to understand that it is the agent who commonly chooses to work with a certain real estate firm.
Not only is the broker of the company important, but the company itself is important as well. The culture and values of the company you choose will affect your client’s transaction experience. There are many business models in the real estate industry. Each company is different. At the extremes of the spectrum, some real estate companies take a large commission split and provide many resources for their agents. On the other hand, real estate companies may take a small commission split and offer very little in resources for their agents. Find the right fit between commission splits and resources you are comfortable with in addition to the broker.
Online Searches for Brokerages
There are many places to find a real estate broker. Brokers can be found online, through your local REALTOR’s association, and through business networking. A good starting point is to do an internet search for real estate brokers near you. Read reviews of the real estate brokerage on multiple review platforms. Another good idea is to search agents who already work for the real estate brokerage. Send the agent a message and ask about their experience working for their company.
Local REALTOR’s Association to Search for a Brokerage
Another place to find a brokerage to work with is your local REALTOR’s Association. View the roster of the individuals involved. Look at the committee chairs, directors and officers. What companies do they work with? Contact these members, and ask about careers at their brokerages, specifically for newly-licensed agents.
Finding a Brokerage through Networking
Attend real estate networking events and ask questions about different brokerages. In Atlanta, the largest real estate networking organization is called Real Estate Connections. It is held on the first Thursday of every month from 6 PM to 9 PM at Loca Luna off Amsterdam Ave. in Atlanta. Networking opportunities like Real Estate Connections bring together 300 to 400 people every month. At these networking events, you will find real estate attorneys, mortgage lenders, brokers, agents, and real estate investors. Talking to these attendees about their personal experiences is a good opportunity to research potential brokerages you may want to work with.
Look for a broker with significant credentials. A proven track record in developing and training new agents is key. Schedule an interview with a broker once you have identified around 4-6 brokerages you are interested in working with.
Real estate is a unique industry in which you are both the interviewee and the interviewer. Reflect a level of professionalism to your potential broker, and also ask them questions to ensure you are both a good fit to work with each other. It is important to join a company that recognizes that the agents are the most important part of the company’s culture and standing within the profession.
The Real Estate Interview
The interview itself may vary in form with each real estate company. Sadly, some real estate companies do not interview the candidates, hiring them without a second thought. A real estate company that would do this should be seen as a red flag to anyone considering real estate as a career. If anyone can work at the real estate company, they certainly do not all share the same values and vision for building a real estate business.
Other brokerages may have an in-depth hiring process that consists of multistage interviews with various levels of management. An in-depth interview process will generate a higher quality of culture within the organization. Real estate companies that pay attention to which agent they bring on are also paying attention to why they are bringing them on.
Questions to Ask in the Interview
Here are some sample questions you may want to ask in the real estate interview
How does your office prioritize the training its agents get?
How does your company reward performance of its agents?
How does your firm define success for its agents?
How does your company go above and beyond to support its agents career development?
What kind of mentoring plan do you offer to new agents?
What does the training schedule look like for your average New agent?
In the event of a contract emergency who would I contact and what hours do I have access to them?
Will I have access to shadowing opportunities as a new agent?
Types of Real Estate Brokerages
Real estate companies can be part of a franchise. Franchise brokerages may have multiple offices within a large city such as Atlanta. In a franchise, a real estate agent will typically pay a franchise fee ranging from 4 to 6% of every deal until they reach a contribution cap.
What does this mean for a new real estate agent? Let’s say an agent was offered a 70/30 split. This means that the agent keeps 70% of the total commission. However, the agent then must pay a franchise fee. If a franchise fee is 4-6%, the agent’s take-home commission is in reality, much lower than 70% (closer to 65% – 62%). Ouch.
Franchise fees do not exist in the independent brokerage model. All independent real estate brokerages differ greatly in the level of service and support they offer an agent. Nevertheless, all firms that are members of FMLS and Georgia MLS must to pay marketing fees in addition to their company fees as members of the MLS.
Sellect Realty is an independent brokerage in the Metro Atlanta area of Georgia.
Our commission model is simple and as clear as possible. Our new agents have a commission plan they can understand with almost all fees included. A small $50 office fee is collected to offset a portion of technology costs. Sellect Realty does charge for insurance coverage. Instead, Sellect Realty pays for the insurance within the operating budget itself. Why do we do this? We want our agents to succeed in their real estate careers. Our company focuses on the real estate agent, and have their best interest in mind.
Other Differences Between Real Estate Companies
Real Estate Brokerage Culture
Culture is going to have a great effect on whether you like working in your office, or not. Every real estate company has one, and can reflect they style of leadership. Also, know that real estate companies can also be a franchise. One office may have a completely different culture than another within the same company.
At Sellect Realty, we have a culture of collaboration and encouragement. We have a nurturing environment so our agents are empowered to grow their real estate career and build their businesses. We focus on leaving the ego at the door. Our agents come to the office to better themselves as individuals, and also better those around them.
Brokerage Support Services
Each real estate brokerage has a different selection of services it provides its agents. Some real estate companies provide every possible service to aid their business. Other brokerages may provide nothing more than liability protection insurance, which is mandated by law. Each real estate company charges a different commission split and monthly fee. Commonly, the more support services offered, the more an agent pays in commission splits and monthly fees to the brokerage.
A good idea is to think about what you need as an agent before asking what the real estate brokerage provides. Make a list of must-have services to avoid paying for the services you will not use. For example, if you want a custom, high-quality website, it would be a waste of money to be paying for a brokerage that only provides a basic website.
New Agent Support Services and Learning
Formal Mentorship Agreements
New agents most likely need a significant amount of support as they start to learn the real estate industry. Training and mentorship should be at the top of their lists. Many real estate brokerages provide a “mentor” to help new agents with the first few transactions. Most commonly, this mentorship will last for the first 1-3 transactions a new agent makes. The agreement between the mentor and new agent is usually a referral fee to the mentor in exchange for the help they receive.
Understand how the mentorship works and what it entails before agreeing to the mentorship itself. The mentorship should be less about financial incentives and more about developing the agent and their career.
Learning through Mentorship
A word of caution is that real estate is a very “hands-on” learning career. Learning enough in the first 1-3 transactions is unlikely. Due to this, Sellect Realty offers mentorship through the first 10 real estate transactions. Six of the ten transactions must be sales transactions.
Learning through Structured Training
Mentorship alone is not enough for a new agent to have the adequate support necessary to grow their careers. A formal training program is highly recommended for all new agents in real estate. A brokerage an agent joins should offer a structured training program designed to teach them how to grow their careers.
Learning through Everyday Experiences
Support and training should be offered to agents without barriers or obstacles in place. Easy access to a broker who can help with legal, ethical and contract deadline-related questions is important. Agents must also have the tools necessary to understand the direction of the real estate market, and tactics to stand out from other agents.
Real Estate Commissions
Understanding Commission Payout Models
There are numerous commission payout models ranging from a 100% model to a more traditional commission split model.
100% Commission Model
In the hundred percent model, the the agent commonly pays a flat fee out of the commission. The un-tiered flat fee is the same for every transaction regardless of the take-home commission amount. On the other hand, a flat fee can also be tiered. A tiered flat fee depends on the take-home commission amount.
Traditional Commission Model
In a more traditional commission model, the agent does not pay a flat fee to their real estate brokerage. Instead, a percentage of the commission to give to the real estate brokerage is agreed upon before any transactions occur. This is called a “split.” The commission the real estate agent earns is divided into a percentage, and part of the percentage is given to their brokerage.
Some brokerages offer a contribution cap. A cap allows the agents to keep 100% of all earned commissions after they contribute a certain dollar amount to the real estate brokerage.
Mixed Commission Models and Caps
Each commission model is different, and each company will offer a different cap, if at all, to its agents. Some companies will offer both 100% and traditional commission models based on the level of experience of the individual agent.
Learn More About Sellect Realty
We hope that this article gives you a good overview of the real estate profession which we love. In addition, we hope that it gives you a bit of direction and understanding of the process in starting a real estate career. We have covered the process of obtaining a real estate license, finding a brokerage, interviewing brokers, understanding what real estate company will be a good fit for you, and more in this article.
If we can help you in any way, shape, or form with real estate careers, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sellect Realty is also available on the phone at 770-509-0265.
SELLect Realty is a metro Atlanta real estate brokerage. We are family-owned and operated. Our brokerage has been serving the Atlanta community since 2007. Sellect Realty was the first brokerage in Georgia to be invited to join the Forbes Real Estate Council. Sellect Realty was also the recipient of the University of Georgia Bulldog 100 Award. Our company’s goal is to raise the level of professionalism within the real estate industry, and to help agents grow a real estate career they can be proud of.
This article was written by the principal broker of Sellect Realty, Christopher Lazarus. To learn more about Chris, visit our website or LinkedIn Profile. Real estate agents licensed in Georgia are welcome to call us to schedule an interview with our principal broker. We are confident in our company and would love to hear from you in the near future.