Posted by: Kaplan Real Estate Education
Published: April 18, 2019
When you think of a real estate professional, you likely get a very specific image of a residential real estate agent, helping people buy and sell their homes and performing all of the related tasks. That is definitely the best-known real estate career, but it’s not the only one.
If there are some aspects of a residential real estate sales career that are attractive to you and others that are not, perhaps you would be better suited for a different career path in real estate. In this article, we explore some of the lesser-known real estate careers available and help you find one that is the right fit for you.
Commercial Real Estate Salesperson
Commercial real estate agents help clients lease, buy, and sell commercial property. There are many similarities between commercial and residential agents, but there are some unique differences as well. For one, the commercial real estate sales process often takes longer than the residential process. And the needs and concerns of the clients you will serve are not the same.
Both residential and commercial real estate careers require that you earn your real estate salesperson’s license. Legally, there is no post-secondary education required to become a commercial real estate agent in most states. However, most commercial brokerages expect their candidates to at least have a bachelor’s degree. Like a residential agent, commercial agents must “hang their license” with (work beneath) a broker. You can learn more about the commercial real estate career path in this article.
Real Estate Broker
A real estate broker owns and runs a real estate brokerage company. To become a broker, you must earn an advanced license. Every state’s rules are different, but most require that you log a prescribed amount of time as a licensed agent before you can earn a broker’s license. Real estate brokers operate independently, which means they keep 100% of their commission split. They often also have real estate agents working under them in their office, who they hire, support, and manage. There is a significant amount of responsibility that comes with running a brokerage. As a result, some brokers choose not to represent clients in the sale or purchase of real estate and dedicate all of their energy to running a successful brokerage.
Business brokers aid and assist buyers and sellers in the purchase of businesses. At first glance, this might seem like the same job as a commercial real estate agent, but it’s not. For example, commercial agents might be responsible for selling a dental office. But a business broker would sell the business that occupies that office along with the property. Some states require a license to become a business broker. Even if you live in a state that does not require one, it’s recommended that real estate professionals complete specialized business broker training to be successful at it.
Loan officers play a critical role in the real estate transaction process, since most buyers will require a loan to make a real estate purchase. There are loan officers who specialize in both mortgage (residential) and commercial lending. They work for lending institutions, like banks, and act as an intermediary between the consumer and the lending institution. They work to understand their clients’ needs and provide lending solutions tailored to the individual or company they’re serving. When an ideal option is identified, they also assist individuals in the loan application process.
It is incredibly rare today for a house to sell without a home inspection. Home inspectors examine, analyze, and report on the physical condition of a property. They play a critical role in presenting all of the information about the property, so the buyers can make a decision about whether or not to move forward with their planned purchase. Home inspection professionals often (but not always) begin their career in one of the building trades. When they make the decision to become a home inspector, they typically complete education to learn more about home systems they are unfamiliar with and the ins and outs of running a home inspection business. Some states require home inspectors to complete education and become licensed, while other states do not.
Real Estate Appraiser
Real estate appraisers provide an estimate of land and building value before real estate is sold, developed, mortgaged, taxed, or insured. Because there are so many factors that influence the value of property, including specific local market conditions, real estate appraisers typically practice in a very specific and defined geographic location. Real estate appraisers are required to complete specific education and meet licensure requirements to practice in their profession.
Real Estate Assistant
Real estate assistants work with agents and brokers to serve clients and manage the day-to-day tasks associated with helping them buy and sell real estate. The level of service an assistant can provide without a license varies from state to state. For that reason, some agents and brokers prefer to hire assistants who have earned their license. Real estate practitioners vary in how they pay their real estate assistants. Some pay a predictable hourly wage or salary. Others offer a commission split.
Real Estate Developer
Real estate development is a career field that requires the vision to look at a blank canvas of land and imagine what it could be. Many tasks fall under the umbrella of real estate development, and most developers do some combination of them. Developers purchase land, finance deals, and manage the development plan for a given piece of real estate from beginning to end. Real estate development is typically a high-risk, high-reward career. Developers shoulder all of the front-end investment, but ultimately maximize the value of the land before taking that space to market. If they’ve done their homework and demand is there for the specific property they’ve developed, there’s a significant financial opportunity waiting for them on the back end.
Reality television has made the phrase “flipping a house” something we all understand. And if you’re the right person for this line of work, it can be quite lucrative. However, as we’ve also learned from reality television, the number of people who are actually good at flipping houses is significantly smaller than the number of people who think they’re good at it. House flippers typically purchase a house based on potential. They invest in improving the property through their own (or hired) labor and ultimately aim to resell the property for a profit.
Landlord or Property Manager
Landlords own property they rent to tenants. That property can consist of land, commercial buildings, apartments, and houses. Property managers work on behalf of a landlord to perform a variety of services that can include marketing rentals, maintenance and upkeep, rent collection, responding to tenant concerns, and even handling evictions. While many landlords hire property managers or property management companies, it is also not uncommon for a landlord to act as their own property manager.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the careers available in the real estate industry. But as you can see, opportunities abound beyond the traditional residential real estate agent career we’re all most familiar with. Although many of these careers don’t require a real estate license, attending a real estate prelicensing course (even if you don’t sit for the exam) can provide a solid foundation of understanding for whichever real estate career you pursue.