One of the fast-growing career fields today is the real estate profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted, several years ago, that 38,000 vacancies would exist in the real estate profession between 2012 and 2022. The bureau also predicted an 11.1 percent job growth for real estate agents.
The BLS reported the median salary for a real estate agent at that time was $39,140, with salaries varying widely depending upon the area.
Real estate sales agents are professionals who work with brokers to provide services to clients based upon contracts. Agents are paid a percentage of the sales they make. All real estate agents are licensed by the state upon successful completion of a training course and successful completion of a state-licensing exam. Requirements vary by state.
Heather Pece, an associate broker at Century 21 Queen City Realty in Bangor, explained recently that all Maine sales agents must complete a 55-hour training course with a score of at least 75 percent. She said that after completing the training course, agents are issued state exam on which they must also score at least 75 percent.
Upon successful completion of the state exam, an agent is issued a two-year license that cannot be renewed because each agent is required to progress to becoming an associate broker. Pece said that becoming an agent is an opportunity for them to “get their feet wet.”
According to the Maine Real Estate Commission, a sales agent license “is an entry-level license that allows individuals to acquire on-the-job training and experience while they complete the requirements for an Associate Broker license.” The commission notes on its website that, “Sales Agents may perform all brokerage services specifically authorized by the designated broker of the agency with which the sales agent is affiliated.”
Pece explained that to become an associate broker in Maine, the agent must complete a 60-hour training course and pass another exam with a score of at least 75 percent. However, she said that agents are not required to take another state exam.
“There is no state exam for associate brokers, but they will need to complete 21 hours of continuing education every two years to renew their state license,” she said. “Many banks and title companies offer continuing education courses. There are also courses offered online.”
Pece advised that some popular training courses for agents and brokers are offered by the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate in Westbrook.
“They offer courses in southern Maine, in Bangor, and also home study courses,” said Pece.
She added that some people opt to become brokers and start their own companies. “That would involve even more training,” she said.
The owner of Century 21 Queen City Realty, Greg Mullins, is a third-generation realtor; he said that it’s a great time to enter the real estate profession.
“The market has made a comeback because of low interest rates,” said Mullins. “Our worst year was 2009, and every year since 2010 has stabilized.”
Mullins encourages not only young people, but also middle-aged and retired persons to consider a real estate career.
“Retired military personnel make great realtors because they’re used to following rules and programs,” said Mullins. “Retired school teachers also do well.”
Pece added that advancements in technology during the past several decades have increased opportunities for real estate transactions and offered much more flexibility to realtors.
“With smart phones, they’re no longer tied to the office,” said Pece. “I remember when I had to page people. Now they can get referrals and set up listings while they’re on the road. The MLS [multiple listing service] allows consumers to view homes and set up appointments instantly.”
The 2014 president of the Maine Association of Realtors, Angelia Levesque, said recently that anyone considering entry into the real estate profession should plan ahead because it may take time before they show a profit. She recommends setting aside some money to tide them over until they are able to establish a clientele.