Not all real estate agents work directly with buyers and sellers. Some earn commission by referring buyers and sellers to other agents. Although referral specialists fulfill the same licensing requirements as other agents, they don't have to maintain expensive memberships in their local, state and national real estate associations, and they usually don't have to purchase errors and omissions insurance. Most brokers charge referral agents a yearly fee for holding their licenses and allowing the agents access to the brokers' network of qualified listing and buyers agents.
The first step toward becoming a referral specialist is to earn a real estate license. Contact your state's real estate commission to review licensing requirements. In most states, you take a minimum number of hours of classroom instruction, then sit for an exam. The exam tests your knowledge on state and national real estate laws and other topics.
Whether you work in referrals or do your own transactions, you must affiliate with a broker who promises to supervise your work. Your license hangs in the broker's office. Contact local brokers or national brokerages that specialize in referrals to learn about their fees and commissions. Affiliate with the broker whose referral policies compare most favorably.
Your most important task as a new referral specialist is to compile a list of everyone you know -- family, friends and acquaintances, no matter how casually you know them. This "sphere of influence" generates the referrals on which you base your business. Let them know you're working as a real estate referral agent. Ask them to keep you in mind if they or anyone they know is considering buying or selling a home so you can find them a local agent to work with.
Once you have a buyer or seller to refer, you fill out a referral form. The form gives the customer's contact information, your contact information and the amount of commission you earn for the referral. In some cases, you set the rate; in other cases, the broker predetermines the rate. Send the form to the agent you want to work with your buyers or sellers -- if you have one in mind -- or submit the form to your broker for a follow up. Keep in touch with your broker to find out when the sale is due to close. The broker pays your commission from the check he or she receives at closing.
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