Get Your Real Estate License in California & Thrive

A comprehensive guide to becoming a licensed California real estate agent

Home to coveted high-value properties, and over 38 million residents, California is overflowing with opportunities for real estate agents looking to start and grow their career. In fact, some of the top real estate producers on the planet call California home.

And it’s no wonder, since cities like Beverly Hills, San Francisco, and even Napa boast plenty of multimillion-dollar homes, with some reaching over the $100 million price range.

But how do you get a piece of the action?

In this comprehensive guide, we break down everything you need to know about how to launch a successful career in California real estate and answer some commonly asked questions.

Chapter 1

Getting Your License

Chapter 2

What You Can Earn

Chapter 3

How to Pick a Real Estate School

Chapter 4

How to Pass the Real Estate License Exam

Chapter 5

How to Choose a Brokerage to Work For

Chapter 6

Tips for Getting New Leads

Chapter 1: Getting Your License

How to launch a successful career in California real estate

Considering California’s median home value is in the $600k–$700k range, there’s plenty of money to be made as a California real estate agent.

While not everyone can service the upper-tier markets, the sheer volume of active buyers and sellers in California produces a huge need for qualified part-time and full-time real estate agents who can offer their expertise in a broad spectrum of price points and niches.

Another great advantage of becoming a real estate agent in California?

You can use your license to take advantage of the lucrative real estate investment, property management, and home flipping opportunities in California if at any point you choose not to work with clients but wish to keep your real estate license active.

In other words, a California real estate license pays off in a variety of ways that don’t even require committing to real estate full time or working with clients.

So if you’re thinking about getting licensed, it is certainly worth the investment if you’re willing to put in the work.

What are the California Real Estate License Requirements?

Before you can enjoy the perks of working with clients in this diverse market, you’ll have to get your license first.

The good news? Obtaining a real estate license in California can be broken down into six simple steps.

STEP 1:

Meet the general California real estate license requirements as outlined on the California Department of Real Estate Website

According to the California Department of Real Estate, there are just two main requirements for an individual to get their California real estate license, which are:

  • You must be at least 18 years old;
  • Must be honest and truthful. Conviction of a crime may result in the denial of a license. Failure to disclose any criminal violation or disciplinary action in an applicant's entire history may also result in the denial of a license.

If you meet these requirements, you’ll get the green light to move onto the next step in the licensing process.

STEP 2:

Complete the approved 135 hours of pre-licensing education

In California, aspiring real estate agents have the option to complete their pre-licensing education online or in person.

If you’re interested in how to get a California real estate license quickly, an online format may be your best option. For instance, Allied Real Estate School has online learning packages that range from the bare minimum for self-starters, to course packages that include live Q&As and access to supplemental business and marketing courses for those who want to hit the ground running once they obtain their license.

Plus, Allied students have the option to swap courses as needed, get hard copy textbooks, and study with digital exam flashcards to prepare for their exam.

Another huge benefit of taking these courses online is that since many of Allied’s course packages are self-paced, students can easily complete them while maintaining a full-time job as they transition into real estate.

At the same time, in-person classes are available statewide but may take a bit longer to complete and have less flexibility. For convenience, online options are always your best bet, and Allied Real Estate School offers a variety to choose from.

STEP 3:

Apply for the Real Estate Salesperson Examination

To apply for your real estate salesperson exam in California, you’ll need to complete either a Salesperson Examination Application, or a Combined Salesperson Examination and License Application, as well as pay any associated fees.

You’ll also need to provide transcripts proving you took your required pre-licensing courses and completed all 135 hours of study.

When you’re ready to apply for your exam, you’ll want to head over to the California Department of Real Estate’s website to grab your application and get step-by-step instructions for submission.

At the same time, in-person classes are available statewide but may take a bit longer to complete and have less flexibility. For convenience, online options are always your best bet, and Allied Real Estate School offers a variety to choose from.

STEP 4:

Submit fingerprints for a background check

Any real estate license applicant in the state of California must submit one set of fingerprints. According to the California Department of Real Estate, applicants have the option of getting their fingerprints taken either after passing their examination or after they have submitted their examination application.

However, fingerprint processing fees are not refunded if an applicant fails to pass the examination.

STEP 5:

Successfully pass the California Real Estate Licensing Exam with a score of at least 70%

In California, the real estate licensing exam includes 150 questions you’ll need to answer within 3 hours and 15 minutes, with a score of at least 70%. Luckily for Allied Real Estate School students, we have a "pass or don't pay" guarantee so if you don't pass the exam, you'll get a full refund, no questions asked.

STEP 6:

Obtain sponsorship from a licensed California broker

In May 2020 alone, California saw over 93,000 registered brokers, which means there are plenty of brokers to choose from. Choosing the right broker is mostly a personal choice since you’ll be working closely with them.

Some questions you’ll want to consider as you choose a broker:

  • What kind of culture do I want to work in?
  • What kind of commission split am I looking for?
  • Do I want to work for a franchise or an independent broker?
  • What niche do I want to serve?
  • What kind of support and mentoring am I looking for in a broker or brokerage?

Having clear answers to these questions before you pass your exam is important. As a new agent, you’ll need a broker’s help with networking, marketing, and learning how to navigate deals.

In fact, it’s smart for pre-licensing students to start making connections with potential brokers before they pass their real estate licensing exam so they can start selling as soon as their real estate license application is approved by the state.

What’s the Difference Between a REALTOR™ and a Real Estate Agent?

You may have noticed people using the term “REALTOR™” and “real estate agent” interchangeably. However, there’s a difference between the two terms.

A REALTOR™ is a licensed real estate agent who also belongs to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). According to NAR, REALTORS™ are held to a higher ethical standard than agents who are unassociated.

Becoming a REALTOR™ has its own requirements through NAR, and is not automatically granted to real estate agents when they get their real estate agent license.

What does all this mean for an aspiring California real estate agent looking to get licensed?

Overall, getting your California real estate license is a clear-cut process. In just a few months, you can be fully licensed and ready to start closing deals. Now, let's take a look at what you can expect to earn as a California real estate agent.

Chapter 2: How Much You Can Earn

How much you can expect to earn as a California real estate agent

Unsurprisingly, the most common question aspiring real estate agents ask is, “Can you make good money as a real estate agent?”

And more specifically, “How much do real estate agents make in California?”

Luckily, California real estate agents land on the higher end of the earning spectrum, clocking in at around $91,040 per year.

Again, this higher average real estate agent income connects to the higher property price points in California, making it a bit easier to earn larger commissions in many California markets.

To better understand the average real estate income in California, here are a few things to keep in mind.

How Much Does the Average Real Estate Agent Make In Their First Year In California?

Considering California’s median home value is in the $600k–$700k range, there’s plenty of money to be made as a California real estate agent.

While not everyone can service the upper-tier markets, the sheer volume of active buyers and sellers in California produces a huge need for qualified part-time and full-time real estate agents who can offer their expertise in a broad spectrum of price points and niches.

To answer this question, it’s important to keep in mind everyone’s first year of real estate looks different. That means the average real estate income in California may not reflect what many new real estate agents actually experience in their first year.

Some factors that affect the average real estate income for first-year real estate agents in California are:

  • Your first-year marketing budget
  • Your broker’s reputation and success in your chosen market
  • Your commission split with your broker
  • Whether or not you’re working with a skilled mentor
  • Whether you’re part-time or full-time
  • The size of your sphere of influence and your networking skills
  • Which city you work in
  • And your understanding of the local market and your chosen niche

Source: 2020-2021 California Real Estate Agent Income Guide

That said, we conducted a survey in 2020 finding the average first-year real estate agent in California earns approximately $41,000, and that number rises to over $104,000 between years four and ten of their career.

Do Real Estate Agents Make a Base Salary?

Although it’s not common, there are some real estate agencies that do offer their real estate agents a base salary and even offer health care benefits.

The most popular agency to do this is Redfin, which does offer real estate agents salary plus commission. Redfin also offers paid time off, parental leave, and bonuses.

But does that mean they’re the right choice for you to get started in real estate?

For some new real estate agents, the answer is yes.

The base commission some agencies offer could be the difference between new real estate agents pursuing a real estate career or not, especially if they don’t have much money saved up from another source.

However, the majority of real estate agents work off commission only — and many prefer it that way for unlimited earning potential.

Still, networking and transactions can take time, so if you don’t have another income source that can support you in the meantime, or you don’t have savings available for both living and marketing expenses, an agency that offers base salary may be the smart choice to get started.

What Percentage Do Most REALTORS™ Charge? What About Non-Associated Real Estate Agents?

Both REALTORS™ and non-member real estate agents charge around 5-6% per transaction. This can vary depending on their experience, their market, and whether they’re a buying or listing agent.

Though a buyer’s agent may also charge around 5-6% per transaction, buyer’s agents may offer a commission rebate to their clients and end up with a slightly lesser percentage.

In the simplest terms, offering clients a commission rebate means buyer’s agents sometimes offer money back to their client if they’ve saved money on marketing, staging, or other parts of the transaction (usually with the help of streamlined technology) as an incentive to continue working with them.

Why the City You Choose to Work In Affects Your First-Year Average Real Estate Income More Than the Average Commission Rate:

While all of the above reasons can contribute to what your first-year salary looks like, arguably the most important factor is which California city you’ve chosen to work in.

For example, the average commission rate in Los Angeles is around 5%.

When you consider the average single-family home in Los Angeles is $650k, a 5% commission yields $32,500 for a listing agent before broker fees.

On the other hand, a city like Oxnard has a median home value of around $330,000, making a 5% commission dwindle down to just $16,500 before broker fees.

While both commissions are much higher than the commission one might make in other areas of the country, it’s easy to see how the city you choose greatly affects your average real estate income in your first year, and even well beyond that.

What Can You Expect From a Part-Time Real Estate Agent Salary?

Both REALTORS™ and non-member real estate agents charge around 5-6% per transaction. This can vary depending on their experience, their market, and whether they’re a buying or listing agent.

Though a buyer’s agent may also charge around 5-6% per transaction, buyer’s agents may offer a commission rebate to their clients and end up with a slightly lesser percentage.

Many real estate agents start out on a part-time basis.

Of course, the benefits are that part-time work allows one to experience a real estate career without immediately abandoning other sources of income, and may even make it easier for agents to find out which niches and markets they prefer working in before committing full-time.

Work More, Earn More

A recent survey found that real estate agents across the country who work more hours earn more money — specifically, real estate agents who work between 40–60 hours earn the most. Moreover, the highest earners are also the happiest real estate agents, likely because real estate is a career where hard work can directly pay off.

At the same time, agents who work less than 30 hours per week can still earn an average of $24,566 per year, which isn’t bad for a part-time career.

Source: 2020-2021 California Real Estate Agent Income Guide

Part-Time Income In California May Be Higher

And again, a part-time California real estate agent in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Diego may earn more than the average part-time real estate agent in other parts of the country simply due to higher home prices.

In short, the average real estate agent income in California can vary, but is higher than most states.

Though real estate success is highly dependent on individual effort, California’s huge population and high property values in most areas outweigh many other factors that influence the average real estate income.

Chapter 3: How to Pick a Real Estate School

Once you’re sure you want to pursue a career in real estate, the next step is figuring out where you want to prepare for your real estate licensing exam.

In the past, most soon-to-be real estate agents took courses through their local community colleges or at other in-person real estate schools, and some still choose to do so.

But these days, many aspiring real estate agents choose an online real estate school to pursue their pre-licensing requirements, and for good reason. It’s often more affordable, more flexible, and quicker to complete.

Keep in mind, whether you choose to complete your real estate license requirements through an online real estate school or in person, you’ll still need to complete all 135 hours of training and pass your test with a score of at least 70%.

So if you’re looking for the best online real estate school to start your real estate career, this is what you should look for.

An Accredited Online Real Estate School

Unfortunately, not all real estate online learning is created equal.

When you apply for your real estate licensing exam, you’ll need to prove you took all 135 hours of accredited training first. That means the online real estate school you choose must be accredited by the California Department of Real Estate.

Why?

Because the Department of Real Estate’s job is to ensure that buyers and sellers are knowledgeable, and that certain California-specific ethics and practices are upheld.

In other words, during your search for the best online real estate program for your situation, it’s important you’re searching for “accredited real estate courses online” versus simply “online real estate courses.” Allied Real Estate School offers the accredited online real estate courses you’re looking for.

Why Allied Is One of the Top Accredited Online Real Estate Schools

Allied has helped millions of students launch and grow their careers in real estate for over 25 years. Our online courses offer maximum flexibility for students looking to seamlessly transition into real estate.

Choose From Self-Paced or Livestream Courses

At Allied, we understand not everyone looking for an online real estate school is interested in a self-paced option. Online learning can be a difficult transition for some folks, especially those who have been out of a school environment for a while or like to ask questions as they move through their material.

To accommodate, Allied offers livestream classes three times a week in the evenings so even those who are currently committed to other careers and responsibilities have an easier time attending our classes.

Get Just the Right Amount of Support For Your Style of Learning

Even our self-paced online course packages give you the choice between the bare essentials and extra resources and support.

For real estate agents relocating to California or wanting to get licensed in California to work with a wider range of clients, our California Real Estate Fast Track Program offers a fast, easy, and affordable way to learn California-specific material without any extra resources.

This is perfect for professionals with experience who are ready to apply what they already know to a new state.

On the other hand, Allied also offers self-paced courses that include:

  • Our “Exam Cram” video
  • Digital exam flashcards
  • eBook dictionary

And even hard copy textbooks for you to take notes and highlight as you move through the course material.

“Pass Or Don’t Pay” Guarantee

With our more hands-on course options that do include extra resources and instruction, we offer a “Pass Or Don’t Pay” guarantee.

Our prized instructors have almost 80 years of combined real estate experience and deliver lots of extra live support. So, we believe if you study, use the materials we give you, and take advantage of your instructors’ experience, you’ll be able to pass the test on your first try.

And if not? We don’t believe you should pay. We’re able to make that bold promise because we’ve helped millions of students through our accredited online courses pass the real estate exam on their very first try.

Exam Prep Options

Not a skilled test taker? Think you’ll need extra help getting prepared for your real estate exam? Then you’ll want to choose an online real estate school that offers exam prep.

Exam prep entails not only learning the knowledge from your textbooks and instruction, but knowing how to apply it.

Your real estate exam may word questions about your course material differently than your textbook does, so it’s important you’re able to translate your course knowledge into real, applicable information before exam day.

Online real estate schools that offer exam prep may offer extra resources like:

  • Digital or physical flashcards
  • Study groups
  • Q&A sessions
  • Practice exams

Professional Development Courses

Many new real estate agents find out the hard way that their real estate licensing material isn’t all that’s needed for real estate success.

Once you’re out in the field, you’ll need to know the real estate lingo and legal details your course materials cover, but you’ll also need more practical skills to start successfully selling your services and serving clients.

Not all online real estate schools offer professional development along with their licensing courses, but some do.

Professional development courses are often those that cover topics such as:

  • Networking
  • Marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Business strategies
  • Time management
  • Negotiation skills
  • Soft skills for interpersonal and professional relationships
  • Money management

Among others that directly impact your success as a real estate agent and entrepreneur.

Though these aren’t required to pass your licensing exam, you’ll find investing in an online real estate school that does offer some or all of these professional development courses may help you gain more momentum sooner in your career.

High Pass Rates

Good real estate schools are typically considered “good” because they have high pass rates. An accredited online real estate school could have great prices and amazing flexibility, but if they don’t have high pass rates, it’s an indication that students simply aren’t getting the highest quality instruction or resources.

Naturally, no school will have a 100% pass rate because students are ultimately responsible for their own success; but you’ll still want to look for schools that have the highest pass rate possible.

With that in mind, schools that have pass rates in the 90% and higher range are an excellent choice.

On the other hand, if you simply can’t afford your first choice or can’t work it into your schedule, know that going with a school with a lower pass rate is still acceptable and may not influence your results, but you may consider getting supplemental help from a mentor or find your own complimentary resources for study.

Chapter 4: How to Study for the California Real Estate Exam

Now that you’ve decided to get your California real estate license (and maybe you’ve even chosen a great program like one of Allied’s online self-paced or livestream programs to help you do it), it’s time to figure out how to study for the real estate exam so you can pass with a score of 70% or higher.

Fortunately, if you want to know how to study for the real estate exam, Allied Real Estate School has plenty of resources.

From some of the best real estate practice exams to real estate test tips, all of Allied’s pre-licensing programs include extra support so you can pass your real estate exam the first time.

In fact, at Allied Real Estate School, we’re so confident you’ll pass that if you don’t receive a score of 70% or higher on your first try, you don’t pay for your pre-licensing course material.

Sounds doable, doesn’t it?

So if you want to know how to study for the real estate exam, here are a few answers to some of the most common questions new pre-licensing students have when they’re getting started.

How Do I Start Studying for Real Estate?

Great question! When you’re learning how to study for the real estate exam, you’ll want to start by simply focusing on your real estate exam prep course material. Yes, it’s really that simple!

The reason is because your course material is specifically designed to reflect the California real estate exam questions, so it’s not necessary to overthink the material or look too far outside of what your pre-licensing program provides — especially if you’ve opted for one of Allied’s California Fast Track Premium or Fast Track Premium Plus Programs that offer extra study materials.

In addition to using resources like Allied’s digital real estate exam flash cards and our “Exam Cram” video, one of the best ways to absorb the material in your pre-licensing program is to take advantage of the included real estate practice exams.

These help you get comfortable with the material you’ll see on the actual exam, and will help you identify any areas where you need some extra practice.

Even better, your practice exams will help you get familiar with exam questions posed in a variety of ways so you’ll start to know the material inside and out. Plus, seeing the questions with different wording in each practice exam will prepare you for any curve balls you may encounter on the real test.

What Are Some of the Questions on the Real Estate Exam?

At this point you might be wondering, “Is the real estate test hard?”

The good news is, the answer depends on you: if you use the course and study materials you’re given and practice regularly, it should be fairly easy to pass your exam with a score of 70% or higher.

The material you’ll see on the real estate exam ranges from legal questions to working out the math on commissions. You’ll also need to be familiar with real estate terminology, which is where Allied’s eBook Dictionary and Digital Exam Flash Cards come in handy.

Overall, categories include:

  • Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations
  • Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duties
  • Property Valuation and Financial Analysis
  • Financing
  • Transfer of Property
  • Practice of Real Estate and Disclosures (includes Specialty Areas)
  • Contracts

While it’s helpful to know which topics are covered on the test, keep in mind that reading every word of the exam is just as important as knowing the material. The way questions are phrased on the test can change the context of what they’re asking, so it’s helpful to look out for words like “always” or “never” in all your questions, or choices like “all” or “none” in the answers.

The best approach is to take your time, read each question and answer carefully, and be mindful of every word. You’ll have three hours and fifteen minutes to complete your 150-question exam, which should be plenty of time if you’re an Allied student who has taken full advantage of our study resources.

How Long Should I Prepare for the Real Estate Exam?

Besides 135 hours of real estate coursework you’re required to take, the amount of time you’ll want to prepare for the real estate exam is mostly a personal decision.

Many people know whether or not they’re skilled test takers, so if you know you’ll need extra time to study, it’s okay to wait a little longer between your completed coursework and taking your exam so you can get extra help or spend more time with your provided study materials.

In fact, there’s no deadline on when you must apply for your California real estate exam after you complete your coursework.

However, even though there’s no formal deadline to consider, you may want to establish your own personal deadline for when you’ll apply for the exam and take your test — so you don’t forget any of the material you just learned.

How Many Times Can I Take the Real Estate Exam?

Fortunately, most Allied students don’t need to worry about this question because they pass their real estate exam on the first try.

But in the event you don’t pass the exam the first time you take it, California allows aspiring licensees to take the test an unlimited number of times for up to two years after their original application date.

The downside is that those who opt to take the exam again will need to pay another $60 to cover the exam fee.

However, when you consider the opportunities available to licensed California real estate agents, it makes sense to keep trying until you pass!

Why Allied Real Estate School Offers the Best Way to Study For Your Real Estate Test

No matter how you like to learn, Allied can help.

Our California packages offer formats that fit your learning style, your schedule, and your study preferences.

Even if you choose a self-paced package, you’ll still have access to lots of live support and our experienced instructors who can help you if you have questions or need more guidance.

In addition, Allied offers a California Real Estate Exam Prep program. You can purchase this separately or as a part of your pre-licensing package. The Exam Prep platform was created to help you pass your real estate licensing exam on the first try. And each year, we help tens of thousands of aspiring real estate professionals pass their exams.

What’s Included in Exam Prep:

  • Progress Exams. Ten California practice exams to check your knowledge.
  • Final Exams. Two national and three state final exams to prepare you for your licensing exam. You can view a breakdown of your results by the topics you will encounter on the state licensing exam.
  • Custom Exams. Create your own exams based on topics where you want more help.
  • Digital Flashcards. Create decks of flashcards to review key terms and definitions by topic.

Chapter 5: How to Choose a Real Estate Brokerage to Work For

Choosing the right real estate brokerage to work for is one of the most important and exciting steps you’ll take toward becoming a successful California real estate agent.

The brokerage you choose will impact your pay, your training, and can even your reputation, which means it’s important to know how to choose a real estate brokerage to work for so it works for you and your career.

Until now, one of the biggest decisions a real estate agent would make at this stage was choosing between a franchise or an independent brokerage. However, these days real estate agents also have the option of joining a virtual real estate brokerage.

In other words, there are plenty of options and real estate companies to choose from when it’s time to take this key step in your career.

But before we dive into the pros and cons of each of these options, it’s important to understand some of the vocabulary used around brokerages and how most brokerages work.

What Is a Broker?

Choosing the right real estate brokerage to work for is one of the most important and exciting steps you’ll take toward becoming a successful California real estate agent.

The brokerage you choose will impact your pay, your training, and can even your reputation, which means it’s important to know how to choose a real estate brokerage to work for so it works for you and your career.

Until now, one of the biggest decisions a real estate agent would make at this stage was choosing between a franchise or an independent brokerage. However, these days real estate agents also have the option of joining a virtual real estate brokerage.

In other words, there are plenty of options and real estate companies to choose from when it’s time to take this key step in your career.

But before we dive into the pros and cons of each of these options, it’s important to understand some of the vocabulary used around brokerages and how most brokerages work.

How Does a Brokerage Work?

A brokerage is like a real estate agent’s “home base.” Some of the largest real estate brokerages provide agents with everything from mentorship to “done for you” marketing materials, while your smaller local broker may not provide as much marketing materials, but may have a solid reputation and a more personal connection to their community that you can leverage as you get started.

Since the brokerage or broker provides the office, marketing materials, and training, real estate agents must share their commission with their broker or brokerage. This is called a “commission split,” and it’s something you’ll either negotiate when you get started with your brokerage, or you’ll be offered their standard commission split for real estate agents who are new to their team.

Once you get some experience under your belt, your broker will usually increase your commission split.

So, now that you know some of the basics about what a real estate broker is and how the broker-agent relationship can work, it’s time to find out how to choose a real estate brokerage to work for and get answers to some of the most important questions that will help inform your decision.

How Do I Choose a Real Estate Broker to Work For?

The best way to answer this question is to work backwards from your career goals, as well as taking an honest look at your expectations for company culture.

Typically, brokerages are known for certain strengths and niches. For instance, a popular large real estate brokerage may be best known for selling higher-end homes in the traditional real estate market, while a mom-and-pop real estate brokerage may be best known for helping first-time home buyers or sellers, or out-of-state buyers.

Think about who you see yourself helping and what type of experienced real estate agents you’d like to partner with for mentorship and co-listing opportunities while you’re starting out.

More importantly, think about where you want to spend a lot of your time, since (in many cases) you’ll be working closely with your team to get training, ideas, and support.

The Benefits of Working With a Franchised Brokerage

Working with a franchised brokerage has quite a few benefits for new agents. Getting connected to a bigger team automatically sets you up with a larger professional network, and franchises typically have their own marketing department that helps garner brand awareness and credibility with prospects.

Some other benefits of joining a franchise are that they often provide more training, and some even offer base pay and benefits.

Potential Downsides to Working With a Franchised Brokerage

While you may get more training and marketing support, you may not get as much individualized attention as you might at a smaller, independent brokerage. This isn’t always true, and each franchise location will have its own culture, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Another downside is if you like to get more creative with your marketing, or you plan on outsourcing some of your marketing work (like blog content, paid ads, etc.), your brokerage may not allow outside help.

Again, this could be true of some smaller, independent brokerages as well, but it’s more common to run into stricter marketing guidelines at franchised brokerages as a way to uphold brand integrity.

Benefits of Working for an Independent Brokerage or Partnering With an Independent Broker

For some, opting to work with an independent brokerage or broker is appealing because it often comes with a bit more flexibility. Again, real estate agents may have more leeway for creative marketing or outsourcing some of their marketing, and agents may receive more personalized training and mentorship than they might with a franchise.

Another benefit of working with an independent brokerage or broker is the ability to leverage their reputation in the community. Independent brokerages may have to work a bit harder to compete with large real estate agencies, so there’s a chance that your local broker has stronger connections to the market you’d like to work in.

Plus, some clients simply like to support local businesses, and may choose their agent based on the fact that they don’t work with a large, corporate company.

Potential Downsides to Working With an Independent Brokerage or Partnering With an Independent Broker

While more flexibility can be a big benefit for some agents, others may prefer the structure of a franchise. Again, this is a personal preference, which is why it’s important to take an honest look at what you feel would best support you during the first few years of your new real estate career.

Another potential downside is not receiving base pay or benefits, and having to work a little harder at marketing your services and listings. However, because independent brokerages and brokers all work differently, you’ll need to thoroughly research them to find out what you would and would not receive as a new agent on their team.

Benefits of Working For a Virtual Real Estate Brokerage

The option to work with a virtual real estate brokerage is still fairly new, but many agents who have opted to take the leap into this new territory are enjoying plenty of benefits for doing so.

One of the most significant benefits is the higher commission split. Typically, commission splits are based on the brokerage’s overhead to “sponsor” their agents. So if a brokerage is paying for office rent, supplies, administrative costs, company advertising, and other expenses for running a brick-and-mortar business on top of providing training and marketing materials to their agents, it makes sense that they would ask real estate agents to pitch in a bit more from their commission to cover the larger costs.

On the other hand, virtual real estate brokerages don’t have to worry about that hefty overhead because they don’t provide a brick-and-mortar office for their agents. That means agents get to keep more of what they make.

Another advantage is that because there are less overhead costs, some virtual brokerages may offer healthcare and retirement benefits.

Potential Downsides to Working For a Virtual Real Estate Brokerage

Working virtually isn’t for everyone, and if you prefer to meet with your team in person and like the structure of having a brick-and-mortar office to go to, then a virtual brokerage may not be the best option for you.

Plus, you may need to work harder to connect with your teammates, find a mentor, and stay on top of your training.

Which Option Is Right For You?

With so many different options, you can see how making the “right” decision is different for everyone. Overall, you’ll want to choose a brokerage that aligns with your values and the way you like to work.

Chapter 6: Getting Real Estate Leads For New Agents

Once you’re licensed, it’s time to get some leads so you can start selling.

The best part?

Getting real estate leads for new agents is easier than ever, since digital marketing has opened up many new opportunities for lead generation. Before digital marketing, knocking on doors, sending out fliers, and hoping for referrals were some of the only ways of getting real estate leads for new agents.

Of course, whichever lead generation strategy you choose, getting real estate leads for new agents can take some time. With that in mind, it’s smart to start your career with some savings behind you while your lead generation strategies have time to gain momentum.

To help you understand how simple getting real estate leads for new agents can be, let’s look at some of the questions new real estate agents frequently ask when they’re ready to start selling.

How Do New Real Estate Agents Generate Leads?

You’ll find there’s more than one way to generate leads as a new real estate agent, and you don’t have to choose one method over another. In fact, many new and seasoned real estate agents build their businesses by having a few different lead generation strategies both online and offline.

However, the most common ways for new real estate agents to generate leads these days are:

  • Developing paid or organic online lead generation campaigns
  • Leveraging social media 
  • Prospecting expired listings
  • Cold calling
  • Attending in-person networking events
  • Sending physical mailers out to their communities

And of course, getting referrals from friends and family while they kick off their career.

How Does Paid Online Lead Generation Work?

Paid lead generation means taking advantage of direct online advertising. You can do this through paid Facebook, Instagram, Google, or LinkedIn ads to pay for leads. You can also pay for online leads through real estate websites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and others.

The upside to paid advertising? If you do it correctly and have a big enough budget, you’ll be able to start generating leads fairly quickly.

If you’re running a paid lead generation campaign outside of paid real estate search portals, you’ll typically offer a free valuable resource called a “lead magnet” in exchange for your prospect’s email address. Lead magnets can be anything from a local real estate market report to a free home valuation tool.

Since you likely won’t close a client the minute they opt into your lead magnet, you’ll need to also invest in email marketing to nurture the leads you bring in to learn more about them and let them learn more about you and what you can offer.

You can choose to outsource this if it’s okay with your brokerage, or you can automate most of these emails so you can “set and forget” your nurture campaigns.

How to Use LinkedIn to Generate Real Estate Leads

LinkedIn is quickly becoming a great source of leads for real estate agents. LinkedIn users are typically employed or looking for even better work, which means they have a steady stream of income and may be in a good position to buy or sell their home.

Getting leads for new real estate agents on LinkedIn can work two ways: you can either pay for ads directly, or you can create valuable LinkedIn articles and connect with people organically (meaning, without paying to interact with them). If you choose the latter, it’s great to show up regularly on the platform with articles that speak directly to your dream prospects and clients. Articles offer a platform to answer “frequently asked questions” you get out in the field, or share local market reports and your professional opinions on them.

If you do go this route, remember that people are on LinkedIn (and any platform, for that matter) to share information and connect with people, and they don’t necessarily want to be “sold” anything. So, if you do decide to showcase what you can offer people with your services, make sure you tie it to valuable information and relate it back to their needs so you have a better chance of earning their trust.

How to Get Real Estate Leads on Facebook

Facebook lead generation campaigns for real estate agents are probably the most common paid advertising strategy. The reason is because Facebook’s ad targeting allows you to target prospects in certain states and even narrow your audience down to their age, education, and income.

Facebook lead generation campaigns can involve offering a free lead magnet in exchange for a prospect’s email address, or they can be as direct as sharing your listings and offering applications to learn more about those listings.

If you want to get creative, some real estate agents even offer resources like monthly webinars and Facebook groups to get prospects’ information so they can demonstrate their expertise up front, and continue to nurture those leads until they’re ready to buy, sell, or invest.

Is Social Media a Must To Be a Successful Real Estate Agent?

Whether you’re a realtor or a non-associated real estate agent, it’s smart to already have a polished website and an active social media presence before you start relying on paid ads.

Most likely, people will see your ads and head over to your social media accounts and website to learn more about you before they reach out and give you a call or opt in to whichever helpful free resource you may be offering in exchange for their email address.

Just remember that social media can take time to gain momentum and attract attention from your dream clients.

How Can I Generate Free Real Estate Leads?

If you’re bootstrapped, there are still a few ways to generate real estate leads for free.

Again, this is where social media comes in handy. It may not get you overnight leads at first, but social media is a great way to attract leads without paying a dime. This is also true for blog content, video content, or even podcast content if you can see yourself excelling at any of those other “organic” content strategies.

It often takes a few months to get traction, but once you do, you’ll have a nice cushion of free leads coming in so you can start to work in paid lead generation to speed things up.

Other free methods of getting real estate leads for new agents?

Cold calling and prospecting expired listings.

How Can You Cold Call For Real Estate Leads?

The easiest way to start cold calling real estate leads is to look for your market’s expired listings and “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) listings.

Why?

Because these folks aren’t technically “cold” leads. They’re already interested in selling their homes, and they’ve either tried to sell already without any success, or they’re trying to represent themselves in the home selling process.

That makes these two types of “cold” leads somewhat warmed up to the idea of selling their home since we know it’s already a goal they have in mind. With the right connection and pitch, they’ll see the value in using your services to help them achieve their sale.

The best way to approach expired listings, somewhat counterintuitively, is not to start the conversation asking if they’d like your help. It’s best to start your call with some empathy and acknowledge that they must be having a frustrating time getting their home sold, and follow up with some questions with the goal of meeting in person. Once you meet, you’ll be more likely to make a connection with them and nurture the relationship in a way that’s mutually beneficial.

Similarly, you’ll want to respect FSBO prospects’ decision to sell on their own, and approach those calls with curiosity rather than a hard pitch. Again, the goal is to establish a relationship and not “make the sale” right off the bat. In fact, this will help you stand out from other real estate agents who are surely calling with the same goal of winning their business.

Once you start going through these lists and calling them regularly, you’ll begin to build up a database you can contact periodically to keep those relationships relevant.

How Allied Real Estate School Can Help New Real Estate Agents Start Selling

If you need help generating leads, Allied Real Estate School's continuing education courses teach you how to grow your real estate knowledge so you can feel confident offering your expertise to attract the right leads.

For instance, Allied offers courses in Trust Fund Handling, Risk Management, and Sales Comparison Techniques so you can offer prospects useful information on your blog, social media, paid advertising, and in-person conversations.

Access your free Real Estate Career Switch KitDownload now