What Do Real Estate Agents Do?

What Do Real Estate Agents Do?

Wherever you go, there seems to be plenty of real estate agents. Not everyone is looking to buy a home, but there is still plenty for them to do. Though they often show homes to potential buyers, there is much more involved in being a real estate agent.

What Role Do Real Estate Agents Fill?

The first assumption that people have is that agents will simply find sellers then find buyers and act as an intermediary. Though a significant part of the job is meeting various parties, much more goes into a home transaction. It is up to the real estate agent to remove the barriers to a purchase and sale. We will explore various ways that real estate agents do this, but it is important to address some of the intricacies of operating as an agent.

Types of Real Estate Agents

Many real estate agents work through a firm, which often determines the types of sales and properties that are dealt with. But for others, like those who work independently, it is less clear on its face. Types of real estate agents include:


‘Broker’ is a title earned by real estate agents through additional licensing and education.  It allows for real estate agents to take on additional responsibility, such as reviewing legal and financial information, which opens up potential career advancements. Brokers can start their own brokerage firm or seek higher positions within another brokerage firm.

Listing Agent

A listing agent works primarily with sellers or owners, and seeks to find buyers who will purchase a property for the best price, representing the seller during the transaction.

Buyer's Agent

A buyer’s agent represents a buyer in a real estate transaction. They assist the buyer through the process, including locating potential properties and negotiating with the seller.


A commercial real estate agent works with commercial properties, such as:

  • Retail spaces
  • Office buildings
  • Warehouses
  • Industrial facilities
  • Mixed-use buildings that may include retail space and apartments or condos

Local market conditions can be a significant factor in purchasing commercial properties, making agents more valuable as they should be aware of the local market and be able to perform useful market research on behalf of their clients.


Residential real estate agents focus on properties for buyers to either live in or make available for others to do so, such as:

  • Single-family homes
  • Apartment complexes
  • Condos
  • Duplexes
  • Houseboats
  • Manufactured homes
  • Townhomes

Residential real estate agents should know which types of properties are available in their market and can even help people figure out which type of property fits their needs best.


A realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR requires certain conditions to maintain membership, including agreeing to abide by their Code of Ethics, keeping up with continuing education, and paying membership dues. By following the rules as directed by the NAR, real estate agents can use the title of Realtor.

Responsibilities for Real Estate Agents

Though roles and titles vary for real estate agents, many responsibilities are universal. There are distinct responsibilities that, for example, a broker has that a realtor doesn’t, but there is plenty of overlap, and many tasks that are necessary for an agent to be able to attract clients.

Building Your Brand - The saturation of real estate agents in a certain area can vary, but the level of competition is likely to be consistently fierce. Standing out from the pack is very important for success, and there are many ways to do so. Some examples would be by marketing effectively, by developing a positive reputation as an agent, and by becoming known as an expert or developing a specialization in an area of real estate.

Networking - Building connections opens up opportunities beyond those who are looking to purchase a house, such as finding available properties or passed over opportunities. Great places to network include trade shows, Social media groups, open houses, conferences, and local events.

A useful service to become familiar with is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database. This database gathers an abundance of real estate information, which can help give an accurate picture of the local market, provide leads for potential buyers or sellers, and even assist in evaluating the value of properties.

Finding Clients - An important ongoing task for agents is to generate leads for new clients. It is easier to start with your closer circle of friends, family, and associates, but with time and diligent work, your reputation and experience will be extremely useful in generating leads and bringing in more business.

Showing Properties - A significant portion of an agent’s workday includes working with buyers and sellers at various properties. For sellers, it can include arranging an open house to encourage buyers to act quickly on a listing and to generate leads. For buyers, it can mean bringing a client to multiple properties throughout the day to find a good fit. Travel and scheduling are both very important; to provide clients with an experience that leads to a sale, it means using time wisely, so it would be wise to know your area of travel well and to utilize tools such as scheduling software.

Contracts - Contracts can become confusing quickly, so many agents use contract management software, such as Juro or PandaDoc. Real estate sales include disclosures that need to be signed at different stages, and having software helps to know when certain tasks need to be completed. The contract is the responsibility of the agent, and being able to manage a contract throughout negotiations, inspections, and amendments is crucial, and accuracy is highly important.

Closing - Closing can be complicated, and being a good communicator makes the process significantly easier. Coordination is often done with other agents, loan officers, or closing account executives, and this can include having appropriate witnesses, depending on state law. A final walkthrough is an important step, as it ensures buyers before the closing date that inspections are accurate, that damage has not been done to the property, and that the negotiations are valid.

Advancing Your Real Estate Career

One last and important part of what real estate agents do is continuing their education, even after getting their real estate license. It helps agents better stay at the top of their game and prepares them for new opportunities in their market.

For real estate brokers and agents to succeed in the long run, they must continue to improve professionally. In addition to broadening any specialization, continuing education enhances their competence, expertise, and marketability as real estate agents. If you are looking to advance your career, take a look at VanEd’s licensing and pre-licensing programs. Our online courses are a fast and easy way to continue your real estate education at your own pace. Enroll now!


Written and Published by: VanEd

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