How to Become a Commercial Real Estate Broker

Mar 10, 2020

Learn how to become a commercial real estate broker. Research the job description and the licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in commercial real estate.

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Commercial Real Estate Broker

A commercial real estate broker is a licensed professional who helps clients buy, sell, or lease properties that will be used for business purposes. They represent and act as mediators between buyers and sellers. Real estate is a very competitive field, and long work hours are often required for career success.

While a college degree is not required to become a commercial real estate broker, professional licensure is required in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Many postsecondary institutions offer courses and certificate programs that prepare aspiring real estate brokers for their licensing exams. Associate's and bachelor's degrees in real estate may be offered by some institutions as well.

Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree required, though postsecondary education is helpful
Licensure and Certification A broker's license required in all states and the District of Columbia
Training Real estate coursework typically required prior to taking a licensure exam
Experience Variable, but often 1 to 3 years of experience in real estate sales is often required before becoming licensed as a broker
Median Salary (2018) $58,210 (for all real estate brokers)*
Key Skills Ability to work alone for extended periods of time; strong communication skills, people skills, and problem solving skills; persuasive abilities; self-motivation

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2018)

Step 1: Earn a Sales License

In order to become a licensed commercial real estate broker, most states require prior real estate sales experience. You must have a license to work in real estate sales, so the first step towards becoming a licensed broker is to earn a real estate sales license. The requirements for obtaining this license vary from state to state. Most states require individuals to possess a high school diploma or the equivalent, complete a certain number of real estate courses, and successfully pass an exam.

Some individuals interested in this field might consider a postsecondary certificate or degree in real estate. Although not required, aspiring commercial real estate brokers may wish to enroll in postsecondary certificate or degree programs. These programs are offered at many colleges and universities. The pre-licensing course requirements may be waived for those who have earned a state-approved postsecondary certificate or degree in real estate.

Step 2: Gain Real Estate Experience

To prepare for a career as a commercial real estate broker, individuals typically need to gain one to three years of experience as a real estate sales agent. They can get this experience by working for real estate companies or individual brokers. Because commercial real estate deals with properties that are used for business purposes, focusing on commercial real estate sales may provide the experience and skills needed to become a successful commercial broker.

Sales agents that want to become commercial brokers should try to develop and strengthen needed skills. Specializing in commercial real estate sales helps those who are serious about becoming commercial brokers. Learn the basics of zoning and tax laws, how to evaluate a business, and how to choose a business location. Think like a business person and develop a network. Stay in contact with people who are operating successful businesses in locations that have already been marketed to or are familiar. Their support may be of great help in the future.

Step 3: Earn a Broker License

After gaining the experience required by their state, a sales agent may become a licensed real estate broker. This usually involves completing a certain number of real estate training courses and passing an exam. Licensing requirements vary by state, and the exams will vary as well.

In order to be successful as a commercial real estate broker, complete continuing education as needed. State real estate licenses must be renewed every two to four years, with some states requiring an examination or continuing education with each renewal. Each state has its own licensing commission, and it is best to contact the appropriate state for specifics on both licensing and renewal requirements.

Step 4: Become a Commercial Broker

Upon receipt of their real estate broker's licenses, individuals can obtain positions as commercial real estate brokers. Commercial real estate brokers will likely gain additional skills and continue to develop professionally as time progresses.

Brokers should stay up to date on the latest advancements and innovations in the field. To show commitment to their positions, commercial real estate brokers must stay informed of the latest developments in commercial real estate. Innovation is occurring in many areas, such as property marketing, environmental standards, and mobile data.

With experience, brokers may choose to open and operate their own commercial real estate offices. Brokers interested in pursuing this path will likely need some business and finance knowledge, which may be developed through experience or postsecondary training.

So when considering the career of commercial real estate broker, realize that this path requires self-motivation and flexibility with work hours in order to first become a licensed real estate agent, and then with experience, the completion of postsecondary coursework. And after achieving a state-required license, it is possible to work as a commercial broker, and if desired, run one's own business with hired sales agents.

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