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How to Become a New York City Real Estate Agent

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The real estate market can fluctuate wildly, but New York City consistently stays strong. Want to be a part of it? Follow these steps, and you too can become a New York City real estate agent.

Get licensed. Find a reputable real estate school that offers the state required 75-hour course in real estate sales. Upon your completion of the course, arrange to take the Department of State, or D.O.S., exam. You must score a minimum of 80 points to pass. You will not be offered a position as a real estate agent in New York City without a valid and current New York real estate license, regardless of your experience in other states.

Find a broker to sponsor you. A licensed real estate broker is a person or group of people who own and/or operate a real estate office. A broker, if they agree to bring a new agent on as an independent contractor, acts as a sponsor to a new agent and takes responsibility for their actions in all real estate transactions.

Choose the right broker to work for. Many newbie agents make the mistake of accepting a position at the first real estate office that offers them a desk. but you should ask several questions as you consider a position. Will there be any training? Will you be expected to meet a quota? How are sales leads generated? Are you given a budget for advertising?

Rentals or sales? Real estate is a commission-only business. You are not paid a salary for your work. Most new real estate agents in New York City start out as rental agents, which requires the same license as a sales agent. Working the rental market appeals to most new agents because each deal offers a faster turnaround, allowing you to make money in your first few weeks on the job. It also offers a good way to learn the business.

Be prepared to not close many deals initially. New rental agents frequently have to wait weeks or even months to start seeing earnings. Sales agents can wait up to a year. Make sure you have enough money set aside to tide you over for at least a month or two before you pursue a career in real estate. Your office may also expect you to pay for your own business cards, advertising and desk fees.

Get ready to hustle! Real estate is not a smart career choice for those who are lazy or are not thick skinned. Becoming a New York City real estate agent can often require working long and irregular work hours, dealing with erratic personalities and competing with your coworkers.

Find a mentor. While many real estate offices do not offer training programs, it is a good idea to make friends with a senior agent who will offer to show you the ropes.


Once you have scheduled your D.O.S. exam, go to the offices of brokers you are interested in working for and ask if they will sponsor you on your successful completion of the exam. That way, once you've passed, you know you have a job lined up. Start out working for a larger office. They are more likely to offer training and allow you a learning curve.


It is illegal to collect a commission on a real estate transaction in New York City without a valid license. Doing so can jeopardize your chances of ever receiving a license.

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