What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?

Man in a tie holding a pen to a piece of paper

As a real estate agent, you have the opportunity to assist homebuyers and sellers with renting, selling, and buying their homes. One of the perks of the job is that each day is different, as you will spend time prospecting, following up, conducting research, and advocating for your clients—in no particular order. If you can work independently, enjoy a good challenge, and don’t mind the unpredictability of day-to-day responsibilities, a real estate career might be the perfect fit. In this article, you will learn what a real estate agent does and what to expect.

General Job Responsibilities

Regardless of whether you’re assisting a buyer or seller, some work activities will remain consistent. These include:

  • Preparing documents such as contracts and purchase agreements.
  • Helping clients complete legal forms and submitting them to the appropriate parties.
  • Communicating with clients in person, or via phone, videoconferencing, and text messaging
  • Negotiating the terms of a home purchase or rental.
  • Advertising your services with a brokerage, promotional materials, social media marketing, or on your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

“I would start with being calm and logical,” says Greg Hawkins, Realtor® with Silvercreek Realty Group, about negotiation. Second, know upfront what you are trying to do. Your goal is not simply to win; it is to obtain a certain term. Third, negotiation is as much science as art. Have a strategy! If you are not already a natural negotiator, understand you can improve your skills and become a better negotiator.”


New buyers with little to no real estate experience might want an expert’s advice and informed opinion when it comes to finding their next home. That’s where you come in. Some of the more specific job responsibilities entail:

  • Ensuring clients have received preapproval if they need lender financing. A preapproval letter signals to the seller that the buyer can afford the home and make a down payment (if applicable). Preapproval verifies your income or assets, whereas prequalification is only an estimation.
  • Calculating estimated loan amounts, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and closing costs.
  • Working with a lender to set up a home appraisal and inspection before going under contract.
  • Researching listings, setting up showings, and walking through homes with clients.
  • Helping clients submit offers to the listing agent or seller.


Homeowners face stress during the home selling process. Did you know that 89% of sellers work with an agent? Those who sold their home with an agent in 2018 fetched a $77,100 higher sales price compared to those who went the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route. As a seller’s agent, you will be:

  • Marketing homes as the listing agent:
    • Helping set home listing prices,
    • Helping sellers understand the approximate sales price they can expect,
    • Marketing home listings on the MLS, creating buzz in the neighborhood, hosting open houses, and creating physical and digital ads,
    • Knowing the right questions to ask to see if buyers can afford the home.
  • Opening up homes for private showings and open houses.


The closing process can take a week or up to a month depending on the local market conditions, the lender’s approval, and the interested parties. At the closing table, you are the designated legal representation for buyers and sellers. Typical duties include:

  • Conducting a final walkthrough of a home with the buyer.
  • Checking that documents are accurate before the client signs.
  • Communicating with each interested party to ensure a smooth transaction.

The Bottom Line

Participating in real estate as an agent is exciting because you’ll wear a variety of hats. You’ll have the opportunity to assist clients who are navigating complex negotiations, paperwork, and potential obstacles before they can breathe a sigh of relief. If you’re interested in building a real estate career, try job shadowing an agent or read as much as you can before you make a final decision. The satisfaction of seeing happy clients and maintaining relationships with them over the years can be hugely rewarding.

When asked about how he deals with job stress, Hawkins says, “I enjoy the challenges presented in being an agent. If you view the challenges as threatening, you will experience them as stress. If you view the challenges as an exciting opportunity for growth, you will experience it as achieving new personal high points. Check out Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk for more on stress.”

You May Also Like