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How to Become Real Estate Referral Agent

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A real estate referral agent is licensed to sell real estate but does not work with clients to find or list property. Instead, the referral agent refers clients to active agents and earns a percentage of the active agent’s commission generated from the referral. Becoming a referral agent is an option for a real estate licensee who wants to semi-retire and still generate income or a licensee who excels at generating leads, yet would rather not show or list property.

Contact your state’s real estate department to discover the licensing requirements for a real estate referral agent. Each state has its own real estate department which issues licenses to brokers and sales agents, and real estate laws vary by state.

Interview local brokers or brokerages, as you need to hang your real estate license with a licensed broker. Commissions are typically paid to the broker, and the broker pays the sales agent. Find a broker or brokerage willing to take you on as a referral agent.

Obtain your real estate license. This typically requires passing a state-approved real estate course, passing the state and federal real estate courses, submitting to a background check, completing an application and paying a fee.

Investigate referral networks in your state and join one. They typically require you hold a real estate license in the state. Referral networks match your referrals with licensed agents.

Generate leads and build your database of potential clients to refer. If you are a retiring real estate agent, start with your existing client base. Write a list of all the people you know who might want to buy or sell real estate in the future, such as friends, family and associates.

Create a real estate blog, website or Facebook page to generate leads by offering free real estate or regional information.

Cultivate relationships with licensed real estate agents for whom you might refer customers. For example, if you belong to a snow ski club, and members might be interested in purchasing resort property in ski areas, develop relationships with agents in those areas.


If you have a broker’s license, you do not have to hang your license with another office. You need real estate experience before you can apply for a broker’s license.

Real estate laws vary by state. For example, in some states referral agents are not required to take renewal courses or may have minimal licensing requirements.


Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.

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