Can A Real Estate Agent Work Alone?

What people usually do not know is that there are many different types of real estate professionals. So being a real estate broker and the real estate agent is not the same, even though it is similar. Becoming a real estate agent is not that easy since you must pass the real estate test, and that test significantly varies from state to state, but I will talk about that later.

The question that bothers most real estate agent wannabes is – can a real estate agent work alone?

Definition Of A Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is someone who has a professional salesman license. His main role is to help people buy, sell, or rent their real estate. 

Unfortunately, they cannot work independently. 

They must work for an employing broker. Brokers are the ones responsible for their actions.

To become a real estate agent, you must be over 18 years old; you must have pre licensing training, and lastly, you must obtain a license. The number of training hours can vary significantly from state to state. For example, in Virginia, real estate agents must take 60 hours of training, while in California, applicants must take 135 hours of training!

Once that training is done, they will need to take a written licensing exam that is divided into two portions – the first part is federal real estate laws and general real estate principles, and the second part is state-specific laws.

Once they pass their exam, they obtain the title of a real estate agent. After that, they need to join a brokerage and hang their license in the broker office if they want to start working with home buyers, sellers, and renters.

Real estate agents can work as a listing agent, buyer’s agents, and rental agents.

Listing Agent

  • A listing agent is a real estate agent who represents a home seller, and they help clients who are selling their homes. They are in charge of a wide range of tasks such as pricing their home, recommending home improvements, advertising their home, holding open houses for potential buyers, negotiating with buyers, and closing procedures.
  • Listing agents usually get a commission in the range between 5% and 7% of the price of the home you sold (this amount is usually split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent), but a tricky part is that listing agent’s fee can significantly vary depending on the services offered and the housing market.

Buyer’s Agent

  • Buyer’s agents represent home buyers and assist them through every step of the home-buying process. This includes finding the right home, negotiating an offer, recommending other professionals, and taking care of problems like a home inspection or appraisal issues.

Rental Agent

  • Many real estate agents help people find properties to rent. Their job depends on the location – a large city or a small town. They need to help their clients find the right neighborhood, apartment size, and price range and take clients to open houses.  After that, they should help their clients read and understand the lease, so they know what they are signing.
  • Rental agents also represent landlords and help them find tenants. Their fees can be as low as $50 to $75 for a credit check or application. In most cases, they will get one month’s rent or 15% of the apartment’s annual rent.

What Does “Hang A License” Really Means?

Let’s be clear each state has different classifications for what they call real estate agents and real estate brokers. For example, in Colorado, every agent who does not have an independent broker license is a broker associate. Most states use the term agent for a real estate professional who has a license, but it is not in charge of their own office.

When you become a real estate agent, you have to hang the license in a real estate broker’s office. That broker is called an employing broker, and he or she oversees all the agents that work in their office. No state will let new agents oversee themselves, so you won’t be able to work on your own.

Depending on the state, an agent must hang their license in a managing broker’s office for at least a couple of years before they are able to go out on the market as a broker.

How Much Do Brokers Charge Real Estate Agents Per Month?

Rdl Can A Real Estate Agent Work Alone

Every broker and every office has different rules and different fees.  Fees usually depend on what the broker offers to you as an agent.  If your broker offers you a physically separated office with a desk and a secretary, you will naturally pay a much higher fee. You will need to pay at least $500 per month to have your own private office.

Of course, some brokers allow work from home where you don’t have any desk fee and very low commission splits. These agents answer all calls, complete all paperwork, do all advertising by themselves.

Also, agents have to pay a portion of their commissions to the broker. This also depends from a broker to broker; in some offices, you will split your commission 50/50; in some offices, there are no commission splits at all. Some offices work by the principle of the fee paid by the agent to the broker every year.

What Is A Commission Split?

  • When you sell a real estate, you are paid a commission, which is a percentage of the purchase price that you determine with your broker. For example, I will use 5% as a figure for each side of a commission. In this case, the listing agent (one who represented the seller) and the selling agent (one who represented the buyer) each get 5% of the purchase price when the home is sold. If you sell a home for $100,000, that means you earned $5,000.
  • But there is a tricky part. The commission is not paid directly to you as a real estate agent; it is paid to your employing broker. The broker then decides how that commission will be paid to you based on an agreement that you’ve made.
  • In the beginning, most brokers will offer a 50/50 commission split to new agents since they need a lot of training, help, and guidance. Over time brokers may offer a sliding scale deepening on the number of homes you sell in a year. For example, if you sell 60 homes in a year, to reward you, your broker may offer a 90/10 split, and if you sell 30 homes, you will get a 75/25 split. You get the idea.
  • Some brokers will also determine the commission split based on who the client is for the real estate agent. If the broker brought the client to you, he would take around 70% of the commission, but if you sell a house to a client you found on your own, the broker will take only 20% of the commission.
  • Some brokers will offer 100% commission splits to you as an agent, and they will only charge base monthly fees, but again these brokers do not offer any services, and you are pretty much on your own to figure it all out.


Before you become a real estate agent, there are few things you must consider first, but one thing is clear – you are not able to work on your own. Unfortunately, you need to endure a few years of working in the brokerage and splitting your commission fee until you create your own name and client base.

But working under a broker does not need to be a bad thing. Remember, if you choose to work for a well experienced and well-known broker, you will be able to learn a lot, which will only help you launch your career. So choose smart.