Looking to Become a Real Estate Agent in Boston? Here’s Everything You Need to Know!
It’s no secret that Boston’s real estate market presents a lucrative opportunity for would-be real estate agents. But how do you get started? Brokerage licenses, surety bonds, classes, and exams: it can be a bit overwhelming at first.
No worries: here’s a brisk (we promise) primer on what you need to get started. We’ve previously covered this topic in more comprehensive detail, but if you want to know what it takes to get up and running as a Boston real estate agent, then read on.
First of all, What’s the Difference Between a Real Estate Salesperson, Broker, and Agent?
Like many fields, real estate has its own vocabulary. While it can be confusing at first, it’s actually pretty straightforward. A real estate broker can work for themselves and/or run an office and have agents under their license. While a real estate salesperson has to work under a licensed broker as their agent. Of course, both salespeople and brokers use the term “real estate agent” to describe their job, so it can get confusing!
Luckily, there’s a clear path no matter what you want to do. Whatever your ultimate goals, you’ll start out as a salesperson. After you have three years under your belt, you can get licensed as a broker, if you wish. If you decide you would like to become a broker you will have to take a second more extensive test in order to achieve that goal.
How do I Get Started as a Boston Real Estate Agent?
Becoming a real estate agent in Boston — or anywhere else in Massachusetts — follows some simple steps. First of all, you need to be at least 18 years old, and have a social security number. With those factors in place, you’re ready to get your training: 40 hours of pre-license training at a licensed program. Reputable classes run between $150-$400, and everything from 9-5 crash courses, to night, weekend, and online courses are available: so find something that works with your schedule. Be careful of classes that involve groupon as they often get delayed and pushed into the future if they do not have enough critical mass to teach the class. You also have to be careful of some online courses because if you miss a class it might not come around again for two weeks and that can significantly slow down you ability to pass the test. The most successful process is to take the classes as quickly as possible then immediately sign up for the test while everything is fresh in your mind.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this just a formality: you’ll want to take notes, study, and prepare just like you would with any other important exam. That’s right: once you’ve got your course completion certificate, you’re eligible to take the Massachusetts real estate test, which you’ll need to pass in order to sell real estate in the state.
In 2019, Massachusetts implemented a criminal background check (CORI) before being able to obtain your license. Keep in mind this can slow down the process of you receiving your license. There have been significant backlogs in at the state level in the implementation of this process so it is important that you fill out your paperwork properly. If you already have a real estate company in mind that you want to work for; you might want to talk with them about it as they probably have some knowledge of the paperwork and how to fill it out properly so you get approved quicker. Even simple mistakes can kick your application back to the bottom of the pile and have to send it in again so that can be frustrating. Seek advice of reputable real estate offices on this matter.
Pass the test, pay around $150 for your license, and get out there and sell some real estate!
Now Comes the Fun Part: Being a Real Estate Agent
So! You’ve got your real estate salesperson license, and you’re ready to get cooking! Real estate has a high failure rate for people that seek it as a partly engaged endeavor coupled with another full-time career. The mechanics of availability work against you. If you truly want to make this a fulfilling career you will want to be fully engaged in this career and mitigate any other time robbing side hustles. There is an old saying in real estate “If you can’t show you won’t grow” and that has never been more true than now. No broker will ever recommend to you do this as a part-time gig and go juggle other jobs. Be very careful of the real estate companies that suggest that you will be successful doing this career with minimal hours. Check out if the company is trying to charge you for extensive or irrelevant classes and or has high monthly fees. Perhaps that real estate company wants YOU TO PAY to fly all across the country and go to motivational seminars or other non-core real estate activities. Ask the company that you are going to work for if they generate revenue off of the training they charge you to take in order to be successful. If a real estate company that is trying to hire you is suggesting pay for their own real estate training; you might want to ask yourself why.
Finding the Right Broker to Partner With
Boston has plenty of brokerage firms you can partner up with, offering everything from mentoring and support, to what essentially amounts to free reign to sink or swim, with commission splits parsed out accordingly. Look for companies with winning track records over time. Details matter.
Here at Boston Pads, we work with a lot of different real estate agents. Our advice? If you’re in this for the long haul, pair up with brokers who bring serious technical knowledge and experience to the field. The real estate industry is increasingly shifting in a tech-savvy direction, so if you want the tools and knowledge to make the most of your opportunities, partner with a brokerage that can not only teach you best practices, but also prepares you for the future of our industry. Check their level of teamwork and training. See if the trust factor is there within the office. Look to see how many keys are hanging on their walls because landlords only give keys to people they know like and trust.
Striking Out on Your Own
Not every real estate salesperson becomes a broker: many love the structure and support of working with a large firm. But for others, the allure of calling their own shots — and not having to split their commission — is too strong to ignore. If you want to become a licensed broker, you’ll need to work for three years, for at least 25 hours a week, in order to qualify. Once you’ve met the requirements, it’s time to begin the broker licensure process.
This will be familiar ground, as it’s basically the same process as getting your salesperson license: 40 hours worth of training, and one last exam. The cost of the program and exams are essentially the same as before, with one exception: you’ll need to present a $5,000 surety bond — signed and completed by an insurance agent — to get your license.
If that’s got you panicking, worry not: it only costs about fifty bucks to get one. And you need that insurance bond to act as a broker. But once you’ve got it in hand, you’re ready to go! You’ll have to take 12 hours worth continuing education classes every two years, but your exams are now a thing of the past.
Welcome to the Family!
The Boston real estate market is a fantastic place to make a career, and it’s a great time to jump into the fray. If you’ve got more questions, we recommend checking out Mass.gov’s Board of Real Estate FAQ, and/or our comprehensive guide here. If you’re willing to put in the work, being a real estate agent in Boston can be incredibly rewarding on multiple levels. Yes, it can be lucrative, but it’s also deeply satisfying.
We look forward to working with you in the future!