Thinking about starting your real estate career in Florida

Thinking about starting your real estate career in Florida? I regularly get messages on social media asking how to get started and if I have any advice to share, so I created this seven-step article in hopes of helping those interested in becoming an agent in Florida! This is based on my personal experience when I got licensed in 2004. ***Please verify all current rules/information independently.

Step 1 – Sales Agent Real Estate Course

To get started you’ll need to enroll in the real estate Sales Agent course. I signed up at Team Hughes Real Estate School in Destin. I took my Associate Broker Course at Kiefer Seminars of Florida, which I absolutely loved as it was so short and sweet. Only 5 days of class from 8 to 3, and it included an home study “cram slam”, which came in clutch for me. I found it very useful because it drove home the top topics and “exam tricks”! Both courses are around $500 or so. I took the in-person class (I learn better that way), and there is also an option for taking the course online only. The sales associate course is 63 hours total and there were a few options for timeframe – I signed up for the “fast track” option because I wanted to get licensed as soon as possible. At the end of the course, you’ll take a test. You need to pass this test to move onto the Florida Real Estate Exam. Now it’s time to study!

Step 2 – Study for The Florida Real Estate Exam

Everyone has a different way of studying. For me, I took notes in class during discussions (this came in handy!). At the end of the course, I compiled all of my notes into flashcards and studied that way (the question on the front and answer on back). That’s just my way of studying, I know everyone has their own strategy! I’ve heard of other agents who took “practice tests” through Pearson VUE for around $20 and they found that helpful.

Step 3 – Florida Real Estate Exam 

I took the state exam at Pierson VUE. It cost around $85 per attempt and was 120 questions long. You’ll have 4 hours to complete the exam and must pass with at least a 75% score. I’m often asked if the test is hard and if there are a lot of math questions. I didn’t have too many math questions on my test and the test wasn’t extremely hard OR easy. I felt prepared enough and was confident I would pass. Of course, I couldn’t sleep the night before and was still on edge, however I still felt pretty good about passing! You’ll receive your pass/fail results on the spot after taking the test, so you don’t have to wonder for too long what your results are! 

Step 4 – Real Estate License Application

Now it’s time to apply for your license online through the Florida Real Estate Commission. The fee is around $120 for the application, license, and background check. Your application is usually processed within a week or two. A few requirements: you must be a US citizen, be 18+ years old, hold a high school diploma and pass a background check.

Step 5 – Join a Brokerage 

You will need to join a real estate brokerage to start practicing real estate (you cannot practice real estate without being part of a brokerage). TIP: While I was still in the Sales Agent Course, I was actively interviewing with real estate brokerages to determine which brokerage I wanted to join, and I also interviewed with TEAMS at the brokerages because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an independent agent or part of a team. 

When you are ready to join a brokerage, I recommend interviewing a few different ones so you can compare. Every company is different. Some have hundreds of agents and others have 10. Some take a higher % of your commission and others have “caps”. There are so many variables from company to company. Do your homework and prepare questions to ask at the interview!

Ultimately, I joined Better Homes and Gardens Emerald Coast of Florida because they offered the whole package: competitive splits, the best training program, and I personally knew a few agents there who were able to share their experience with me and made me feel confident BHG was “the one”. If you’re considering joining Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Emerald Coast or would like to hear more about what we have to offer, please send me an email and I’d be happy to connect you to our leadership team!

Step 6 – Decide if you should join a team or be an individual agent

This is one of the more popular questions I’m asked. It’s really a personal preference. For me, I knew I wanted to join a team right away. From my experience, here are some of the pros/cons of joining a team. ***Please keep in mind there are a lot of different teams out there and my experience may not reflect how all teams operate.

PROS:

  • Admin support
  • There’s always someone you can call with questions
  • You have leads coming in right away
  • Typically, the team covers all marketing costs
  • The team gives you a sense of direction, so you don’t feel so lost in the beginning
  • At some companies you pay a lower “company split” when you are on a team vs. being an individual agent
  • Learn the ropes from experienced agents on the team
  • A sense of “family/community” within your company – a smaller group of people all working together as a pack

CONS:

  • You are branded within the team – NOT yourself individually and you can get “lost” in the lead agent’s name/brand
  • Every team is different, from my experience (and what I’ve heard from other agents) teams typically take around 50% of your commission and THEN the company takes their cut on top of that. Although don’t forget the value the team provides to you in exchange for this
  • If you decide to leave a team, be careful about what will happen with the leads you have been working, every team has a different “dissolution policy”
  • Some teams will make promises to give you a TON of leads/training/growth and not deliver

I joined a team because I really had no idea where to start, and I’m glad I did. After just under a year, I went on my own (at no fault to the team) because I wanted to brand myself individually.

** At this time, I am actively looking to add agents to my team, however I’m always happy to help a fellow agent and point you in the right direction. 

Step 7 – Start Selling!

For the first year to year and a half I worked another job because I didn’t make a lot of money right away. It took me 6 months or so to close on my first sale. I sold 12 homes in my first year, however that commission was split lower with a team and then a % given to the company, so there wasn’t a ton leftover after taxes and I needed a steady income, so I had a cleaning business on the side. In my 2nd year I sold more homes and started to make a decent income and it took off from there. 

When should you expect to start making money? Everyone is different! I worked full time in real estate even while having another job in the beginning. I worked weekends, holidays, late nights. I traveled far to sell homes. I did whatever I needed to because I was fully invested in succeeding. Not everyone is going to want that type of life for themselves, and that’s okay. I always say, “You get out what you put in and this career can be whatever you want it to be”.

I am an open book and welcome messages/calls/emails with questions, especially about what Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Emerald Coast has to offer to new and experienced agents. Reach out anytime! 

Cara Griffith

850-225-1778 (text friendly)

[email protected]