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What Does A Real Estate Agent Do? A Breakdown Of Responsibilities

6-Minute Read
Published on June 22, 2023

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in the coming year, you’ve probably heard that you should work with a real estate agent. A real estate agent acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers in real estate transactions.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 86% of home buyers purchase their homes through real estate agents or brokers. But what does a real estate agent do, and how can working with one benefit you?

A real estate agent is a licensed professional who assists buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. For instance, if you’re buying a home, your real estate agent will act as your representative during negotiations with the seller.

Real estate agents earn commissions, so their income is dependent on their ability to close real estate deals. If you sell your home, your agent will earn a percentage of the closing price.

There are many kinds of licensed real estate professionals. For instance, a buyer’s agent is someone who guides a buyer through the process of purchasing a home. That person has a legal obligation to protect the buyer's interests and ensure they get the best deal possible.

In comparison, a listing agent represents the seller during a real estate transaction. They are responsible for listing the home and selling it for the best price possible.

And finally, a REALTOR® is a real estate agent who’s also a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). A REALTOR® adheres to the NAR’s strict code of ethics and is an active member of the organization.

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What Do Real Estate Agents Do?

Different types of agents are responsible for various duties, but there are some common tasks that all of them share. Let’s look at the primary responsibilities of a real estate agent.

Common Real Estate Agent Duties

Your real estate agent does more than just help you buy or sell a home. Some of their main responsibilities also include:

There are many reasons to hire a real estate agent when selling or buying a home. For one thing, you get to benefit from that person’s expertise and years of experience in the real estate industry.

And if you’re selling a home, an experienced real estate agent will ensure you get the best price for your home. Plus, you can take advantage of their local market knowledge, network and ability to negotiate with other agents.

Types Of Real Estate Agents

In addition to the responsibilities listed above, some agents have additional duties based on their job titles. The best way to learn what real estate agents do is by reading about the various roles and how they assist in the home buying and selling process.

Real Estate Broker

A real estate broker is a real estate agent who has also passed their brokerage exam. They’re licensed to work on their own or have their own brokerage. Brokers may have more administrative duties than a typical real estate agent.

Listing Agent

A listing, or selling agent, is a real estate agent who assists a seller in their home sale. They have important duties like scheduling a real estate photographer for the home sellers, creating a virtual tour for the listing, staging the house and marketing the property to potential buyers.

Buyer’s Agent

A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent who assists a buyer in purchasing a home. They focus on specific tasks like finding potential properties, scheduling viewings and helping clients choose a mortgage lender.

When you hire a buyer’s agent, they’ll usually ask you to sign a buyer’s agency agreement before you begin working together. This is a contract that specifies how long you’ll be working with the buying agent, the terms of your agreement and the commission they’ll receive.

Dual Agent

A dual agent acts as both the buyer's and the seller’s agent in a real estate transaction. This is often frowned upon because it can create a conflict of interest when the buyer and seller don’t have separate representation. In some states, dual agency is illegal.

Real Estate Agent FAQs

If you still have questions about what all real estate agents do, you might benefit from reading this list of commonly asked questions.

What does a real estate agent do after closing?

Here are some of the main duties a real estate agent has after their client has closed on a home:

  • Reach out to clients after 30 days to make sure they've settled in without problems
  • Answering any questions about the contract
  • Offering a list of local utility companies to use
  • Giving recommendations for contractors, landscaping companies, etc.

It’s a good idea to keep in touch with your real estate agent after closing on your home – writing a thank you letter can be a great way to do this.

What does a commercial real estate agent do?

A commercial real estate agent specializes in purchasing or selling commercial property. For instance, if you were looking to buy an investment property, you would likely work with a commercial real estate agent.

Although they sell different types of properties, the daily tasks of a commercial real estate agent are similar to what residential agents do. However, commercial real estate agents may also have to handle leasing properties in addition to purchasing and selling.

What does a closing agent do?

Closing agents are real estate professionals who work for home buyers and help them progress through the closing process. They ensure that the property has a clear title and there is a smooth transfer of ownership. Closing agents do have some unique responsibilities and can help speed up the buying process.

Can anyone become a real estate agent?

Yes, anyone over the age of 18 can become a real estate agent. However, you will have to complete your pre-license registration and pass your real estate license examination.

On average, it takes 4 – 6 months to complete the required coursework and take the exam. But the exact licensing requirements vary state by state.

Are real estate agents worth it?

If you’ve been considering buying a home without an agent, you may wonder if working with a real estate agent is worth it. After all, you don’t technically need a real estate agent to buy or sell a home.

And real estate agents receive a commission between 5% and 6% of the sale price. That means if you sell your home for $250,000, your agent could receive up to $15,000 of the proceeds.

However, most people find that real estate agents are well worth the small commission fee. Here are a few of the ways realtors can help you:

  • Research homes and neighborhoods that match your budget and lifestyle.
  • Share inside information about a particular home or neighborhood.
  • If you’re buying, your agent will negotiate an offer with the seller and help you get the best deal possible.
  • If you’re selling, your agent will list your home and market it, so it reaches many potential buyers.
  • Decipher the legal paperwork and help you understand what everything means.

How do I find the right real estate agent for my situation?

There are several routes you can take if you’re trying to find the right real estate agent. The best place to start is to ask for referrals from family and friends. Once you’ve received a few recommendations, make sure to review their resumes.

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few candidates, you might want to schedule an interview where you can ask the agent some questions. For instance, it’s a good idea to ask if they have any referrals from previous clients.

What is the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®?

A REALTOR® is a real estate agent who is a member of NAR and abides by their code of ethics. So basically, every REALTOR® is a real estate agent, but a real estate agent may or may not be a REALTOR®.

If you’re trying to choose a REALTOR® or real estate agent, you should consider that person’s experience, credentials and skills above all else.

The Bottom Line: Everything A Real Estate Agent Does Should Help You In The Home Buying Or Selling Process

Real estate agents assist individuals in buying or selling their homes, and their duties extend beyond their interactions with you. A real estate agent is involved in every step of the process, from researching potential homes, negotiating with the seller on contingencies and walking you through the process of closing on your house.

The fact is that real estate agents do a lot, and most buyers or sellers don’t have the time or resources to do all this on their own. If you’re ready to continue your home buying journey, find a real estate agent or REALTOR® through our partner Rocket Homes℠.

Miranda Crace

Miranda Crace is a Senior Section Editor for the Rocket Companies, bringing a wealth of knowledge about mortgages, personal finance, real estate, and personal loans for over 10 years. Miranda is dedicated to advancing financial literacy and empowering individuals to achieve their financial and homeownership goals. She graduated from Wayne State University where she studied PR Writing, Film Production, and Film Editing. Her creative talents shine through her contributions to the popular video series "Home Lore" and "The Red Desk," which were nominated for the prestigious Shorty Awards. In her spare time, Miranda enjoys traveling, actively engages in the entrepreneurial community, and savors a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.