You’ve Passed Your Real Estate License Exam. Now What?

Not sure what steps to take after passing your real estate exam? We've got you covered.

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas


Congratulations! You finally did it. The long nights spent studying obscure real estate terms have finally paid off, you passed the exam on your first (finger's crossed!) try, and you’re a licensed real estate agent. But now that you’ve jumped that hurdle, what’s next?

Let’s discuss what you need to do next to create an epic first year in your new career path as a real estate agent.

Choose the Right Brokerage Agency

As a newly minted real estate agent, you’re excited and ready to take on the world. Not so fast: you’ll need to join a brokerage first! State law requires that all real estate agents work under the guidance, tutelage, and protection of a real estate broker.

Yes, you own your own business. Yes, your success or failure rests primarily on your shoulders. But no, you can’t do it alone. You need to team up with a broker who has the knowledge and experience to help you be a success.

That last sentence means that you shouldn’t choose just any real estate brokerage to join. The ideal brokerage has the following:

  • A solid reputation in your community
  • An established continuing education program

Don’t get hung up on agent/broker splits. It may be tempting, but remember that some of the most generous (in your favor) splits can equal disaster. A brokerage that’s investing a lot of resources into their agents will likely require a little more of your commission. However, if you’re gaining more clients and more opportunities because of your broker’s investment in you, then it may be worth it.

While some agencies require less of your commission, they will also give you fewer “perks” in return. Some agencies charge agents for postage, copies, and office supplies. If you’re paying for your copies, it can add up.

Also consider the broker’s speciality. Are they more focused on selling or buying? Commercial or residential? Sales or leasing? If you’d like to operate exclusively as a particular type of agent, it makes sense to align yourself with the agency that specializes in your career goal.

Sketch Out a Marketing Budget

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Because you’re in business for yourself, you’ll need to take care of all of your business needs. Sure, you may be able to get referrals through your brokerage agency, but make no mistake about it: a lot of your success will depend on your ability to hustle and get your name out there. Never forget that you own a business, even if you work under a broker.

This means you need to be completely focused on marketing your business at all times. From business cards to business suits, your entire presentation will feed into your marketing.

Marketing for a new real estate agent isn’t about buying billboards or saturating your neighborhood with real estate postcards. It’s also about making meaningful connections with your clients and with other industry professionals.

When coming up with a workable marketing budget, consider how you can best forge these connections.

It may mean setting aside money to join an association (more on that below).

It may also mean that you take the time to create a solid website for your business. It’s the 21st century-- prospective clients turn to Google before driving through the neighborhood. Make sure that when they search on the Internet for homes in your neighborhood, they’ll find your website.

Because you’re likely to bootstrap your business, you may not be able to afford extensive marketing. That’s okay. Focus on the few things that will get you the most exposure in the quickest amount of time. I recommend the following:

  • A website - A website costs between $200 to $300 per year for design, hosting, and upkeep. If you opt to create a website with Placester, for example, you can create a site for free and pay extra for add-ons. One of the biggest benefits of having a website is the ability to capture search engine traffic.
  • A wardrobe - Don’t go out and buy an entire wardrobe in one day. Consider buying a new (quality) suit each month. By the end of the year, you’ll have at least 12 suits which can hold up for years, if you focused on quality. Oh, and watch out: clothes usually aren't tax deductible!
  • Business cards - Business cards can even be printed at home, but I do recommend opting for a professional printer to avoid ink smears and imperfect edges-- ask me how I know.
  • Membership to the NAR - Think of it as a marketing expense because being listed as a REALTOR® will gain you a lot more exposure than you’d get without it (more on this next).

Become a Member of the Right Organizations

Now that you’ve become a certified real estate agent, it’s time to join some prestigious organizations and associations. Not only will it grant you more opportunities to network with fellow real estate professionals, it will also boost your reputation.

One of the most important associations for any real estate agent to become a member of is the NAR, or National Association of REALTORS®. There’s a real estate agent and then there’s a REALTOR® (and yes, it's all caps on purpose).

A REALTOR® is a member of the NAR. The term REALTOR® has become synonymous with an educated and ethical real estate agent. While you don’t automatically become a superhero when you join the NAR, membership with that association does mean that you’ll hold yourself to a higher code of conduct as outlined here.

But don’t just think of NAR as a national and faceless organization. There are also local chapters right here in Massachusetts. Learn more here.

While NAR may be the most well-known real estate association to join, it’s certainly not the only one! Consider joining local or regional real estate associations, too. These small associations can actually create more networking and client referral opportunities for you.

Develop the Owner Mindset

The number one mistake many newbie real estate agents make is to treat their new business like a hobby.

Here’s a common scenario: Many new agents can’t afford to quit their full time job, at least not at first. They’ve still got bills to pay and starting up a real estate business ain’t cheap. So, they work part time as an agent while maintaining their full time job, too.

It’s not easy or preferable to do it this way, but it is possible as long as you remember this: Your real estate business is a business. Treat it as such. Don’t just dabble in and out of work carelessly. The more of your time, effort, and resources that you invest in your real estate business, the more you’ll get in return. You’ll need to nurture your business, work long hours without expecting a parade for it, and hustle hard to get clients.

Network, Network, Network

The biggest reason to join organizations is so that you widen the net of how many people you know.

You need to focus on networking with industry professionals, not just fellow real estate agents and brokers. Build relationships with as many people as possible, from general contractors to real estate attorneys to moving companies. You’d be surprised at how many referrals you can gain from these connections.

Here are a few ways you can build your network:

  • Host or attend open houses
  • Join local business groups
  • Invite colleagues out for coffee or lunch
  • Attend local or regional meetings and mixers

Create Personal Connections With Clients

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A huge percentage of your new clients will come from your former clients. That’s universally true for any real estate professional. So, you’ve got to focus on two things:

  1. Making your former clients happy
  2. Staying top of mind

But how?

To make your former clients happy, go above and beyond. For example, when they move into their home, send a “welcome home” gift like a fruit basket or balloons. This can be done for both buyers and sellers (if you work with sellers, you should know where they’re moving to). It’s a nice touch that will inspire positive feelings.

To stay top of mind, continue to forge a true and lasting connection with these clients. Not only will they refer others to you, it’s also likely that they’ll need to buy and sell in the future, too. Stay in touch with your former clients. For example, every year you can send a “happy anniversary” card to commemorate the date when your client moved into their new place.

Additional Resources

Before you go, check out these related posts:

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