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How to Become an Independent Realtor

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Independent real estate agents work in offices that are not affiliated with a large corporate real estate companies. Brokers or investors purchase franchised offices that operate according to corporate rules and guidelines. Independent real estate agents also work under the direction of a broker, but the independent broker sets individual guidelines and rules for the office. Both types of offices must meet state and local laws regulating real estate transactions.

Take courses for a real estate and broker's license. Real estate agents in all states must work under the direction of a broker, so to operate as an independent agent; you'll also need to obtain a broker's license to work without specific supervision. Each state sets rules for licensing and education, but most require a set number of hours for classroom instruction and passing an exam for both the real estate license and a separate set of courses an exam for the broker's license.

Pay membership and license fees. The term "Realtor" designates a member of the National Association of Realtors. In order to use this term, the agent must join the association and pay dues each year. The association has state and local branches to regulate real estate activities and provide services and continuing education for members. The association provides education in the areas of commercial real estate, relocation and land investment.

Set up tax and legal paperwork. Independent real estate offices must also obtain state and local business licenses and set up legal business paperwork for filing both state and federal taxes and Social Security payments. Independent real estate agents must master required forms, contracts and paperwork for residential listings and sales. Separate paperwork is necessary for representing commercial properties. Each state has separate requirements for property disclosures of potential health hazards and conditions.

Establish an online presence or brick-and-mortar office and recruit agents and office staff. Some agents operate from a home office and meet clients at the properties, while other independent agents operate traditional offices. If your independent office will include other agents, a small office may be necessary as a center of activity. The office should have access to online real estate databases such as the Multiple Listing Service.

Advertise and promote your business. While franchise real estate offices have the advantage of corporate advertising and promotion, independent Realtors can promote an office by using the same venues as the large offices. Independent realtors have options for print or online advertising and joining local and area business organizations to promote the office. An independent office will need to purchase property and open house signs, key safes, business cards, and stationary for the office.


Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.