In this month’s article, we will address the spike in residential real estate career seekers as the market heated up in virtually every city across the country.

“The real estate business is one of the easiest to get in but the hardest to be successful in,” is an adage passed on by experienced brokers, and I have to say I agree.

Each state has statutory licensing requirements, FBI background checks, minimum education requirements, a state and federal real estate examination and the requirement to affiliate with an experienced broker before offering real estate service. Top that with the fact virtually every broker is a member of the National Association of Realtors and his/her membership mandates that all affiliated licensees also must be members.

That said, for an initial investment of around four to five thousand dollars, a person that meets the state requirements for licensure could be in the residential real estate brokerage business in short order.

Up to now, we are strictly talking about the residential real estate brokerage business, although there are several paths one might potentially take. Here are a few:

• Commercial leasing agent

• Residential leasing agent

• Property manager

• Home inspector

• Appraiser

• Flipper

• Discounter

• Real estate investor

• Real estate trainer

• Real estate association management

Even with all these career options, the door to the world of real estate brokerage typically begins as a residential real estate salesperson.

If we consider the local market condition in the spring of 2021, we see already there are more real estate agents than listings available to sell.

Faced with low inventory across most markets, a business that already is tough to get started in just got a lot tougher. While this factor is a limiting one, the market will level out at some point and we will just have war stories to tell about 2020 and 2021.

Since a newly licensed real estate agent is prohibited by law from operating independently, a sponsoring broker/ principal broker must be identified. In all states, the Real Estate Authority looks to one specific broker per firm for compliance with state laws and regulations, no matter how many agents or brokers may be employed with the firm. There may be office managers at some levels, however, the responsibility for the firm rests solely with the principal broker or broker of record.

Finding a place to begin work as an agent has been easier in years past and in different market conditions, too. Many brokerage owners have become more selective and in some cases only accept experienced agents. Another potential option is for a new agent to join a team within a brokerage firm. Often these team leaders have training programs, lead generation systems and mentorship programs to tie new people in.

Over my career, people have asked me “who makes the best real estate agent?” The answer is surprisingly simple, a person that genuinely cares about people, knows the fundamentals of real estate transactions, and can calmly shepherd buyers and sellers along the path to a smooth closing.

Usually, the business sorts that out automatically after a couple of years.

In summary, a good real estate agent will earn a professional level of income and can even expect their earning power to increase with more experience, more closed sales, education and standing in the community.

The first step usually is frank conversations with successful real estate agents and brokers to make sure this is a path to be on for you.

T.W. Shortt is past president of Heart of Kentucky Association of REALTORS and a broker at Realty World Knox Realty Group.