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How to Become a Commercial Real Estate Agent (A 2023 Guide)

Last updated on September 11, 2023

How to Become a Commercial Real Estate Agent

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Are you looking for a career in the world of real estate?

Then a commercial real estate agent might be the perfect choice!

You won’t only work with a wide range of clients, from small business owners to major corporations — but you’ll also have a fulfilling and financially rewarding career. 

But wait…

How exactly do you become a commercial real estate agent?

We’re here to give you all the answers. 

We’ll walk you through the requirements and steps. 

We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions. 

So are you ready for your complete guide on how to become a commercial real estate agent?

Let’s go!

What is a Commercial Real Estate Agent?

To put it simply…

Commercial real estate agents help businesses buy and sell property. 

These agents are specialized or skilled professionals trained to handle complex commercial property transactions. 

They deeply understand the unique challenges and complexities of commercial real estate, including environmental regulations, zoning laws, market trends, and financing.

What’s more, they work with a variety of clients, from retail stores and restaurants to factories and medical clinics. 

Here are the most common types of commercial real estate:

  • Retail spaces
  • Industrial warehouses
  • Office buildings
  • Hotels
  • Residential complexes
  • Hospitals
  • Churches
  • Convenience stores
  • Malls 

Commercial real estate agents provide expert knowledge to their clients, including pricing recommendations and how to improve the property to attract suitable buyers.

Basically, they’re like real estate agents — but focus on the commercial/business side instead of residential. 

The 6 Steps to Become a Commercial Real Estate Agent

Okay, so now that we know the basics of what a commercial real estate agent is…

Let’s look at the steps on how to become one:

  1. Meet state eligibility requirements
  2. Get licensed
  3. Build your network
  4. Gain experience
  5. Specialize
  6. Explore further career options 

Let’s go through these steps. 

Step 1: Meet State Eligibility Requirements

Before you get started, you’ll need to make sure you meet a few eligibility requirements.

Now, the requirements vary from state to state, but here are the general ones:

  • You’ll need to be at least 18 or 19 years old
  • You must be a legal U.S. resident
  • You must have at least a high school diploma or a GED

NOTE: Make sure to check if your state adds a few eligibility requirements to this mix. 

That’s it. 

Step 2: Get Licensed

If you got the requirements covered, then you can start working on your license. 

This will include:

  • Completing the required coursework
  • Passing the real estate licensing exam
  • Find a real estate broker
  • Apply for your real estate license

Again, I’d like to point out that each state has different requirements. 

For example, California requires 135 hours of pre-licensing courses, while New York only requires 75 hours. 

So always be sure to look into the specifics of where you live. 

You can click here for a complete requirement checklist for each state. 

Complete the Required Coursework

NOTE: If you already got a post-secondary degree or certificate in real estate, you may jump straight to taking the real estate exam. 

Yes, the minimum number of course hours will depend on where you live. 

But basically, you will learn all the fundamentals of the industry, including relevant laws, state-specific information, and professional responsibilities — among other things. 

Depending on your state, you may have to take specialized training on commercial real estate practices.

Another thing. 

Some states allow you to take the required courses online, while others only accept brick-and-mortar schools. 

But all agree that the coursework should be APPROVED in the specific state. 

Pass the Real Estate Licensing Exam

After your education, you need to put your knowledge to the test. 

This is the real estate licensing exam. 

This is usually administered by Pearson Vue or PSI — or your state’s license regulator. 

To sit down for it, you’ll have to pay an exam fee (the fees will vary per state). Some states require you to apply for a real estate license first, then apply for the exam. 

Just make sure to check the specifics of where you live. 

What can you expect from the exam?

It will consist of 75 to 150 multiple-choice questions and has a State and a National section. 

You need to answer everything within a certain timeframe, typically around 3 hours.

The passing score depends on your state, but most require a score of at least 70% to pass.

NOTE: Take advantage of exam prep, such as PrepAgent, to GUARANTEE you pass on your first try. 

Find a Real Estate Broker

You already completed the required coursework and passed the licensing exam, but you’re not ready to start buying and selling properties just yet. 

You need to find a real estate broker to work with. 

Some states require this BEFORE you get a license — In other states, you can first get a license and then find a broker.

At this stage, you need to research local brokers who specialize in both residential and commercial real estate.

NOTE: It’s good to have residential real estate experience so you can get the feel of it. But it’s also good to have some commercial properties on the side, so you can see the ins and outs of commercial real estate compared to residential. 

This is an important decision, so take your time looking at and going through interviews with potential brokers. 

After all, your first few years as a commercial real estate agent will be smoother if you have a broker who is guiding and supporting your efforts.

Apply for Your Real Estate License

Finally, it’s time to apply for your real estate license.

You can do this by going on your state’s real estate commission website. 

The application fee ranges between $100-$300.

Most of the time, you will be required to submit a few documents and a background check before license issuance. 

You can check out the specific steps for each state here

Step 3: Build Your Network

Now that you’ve obtained your license, it’s time to build your network of commercial real estate agents. 

Remember, networking is a critical part of becoming a successful commercial real estate agent. 

Building relationships with other professionals helps you stay in the loop about the latest trends, find potential clients, and grow your career. 

Your chosen broker may be a valuable resource in connecting you with influential people in your market.

But don’t stop there – meet with local agents to build relationships and potentially join in commercial real estate deals.

Connect with business executives, CEOs, investors, and even journalists who cover business beats to expand your network and gain potential clients. 

Here are some of the professional organizations you can join:

Once you join an organization, attend its events and interact with other members. 

You may also join professional real estate groups on social media platforms, discover networking events you can attend in person, and share your services with a larger audience. 

Get this. 

Building a real estate network takes time and effort. 

Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight. 

The more you put effort into building your network, the more you’ll get out of it in terms of knowledge, opportunities, referrals, new clients, and a stronger reputation in your industry.

Step 4: Gain Experience

You’ve built your network and worked in the industry for a while now. 

To become a successful commercial real estate agent, you might want to work more in the commercial real estate area. 

Your brokerage firm might have agents and brokers who know the ins and outs of the industry and can provide you with valuable insights and guidance. 

A good brokerage firm will offer you the opportunity to work in areas related to commercial real estate instead of residential. 

This will give you even more understanding of the industry. 

Step 5: Specialize

Specializing as a commercial real estate agent allows you to develop a deeper knowledge of the specific property type you focus on.

This is a huge advantage when working with clients.

By specializing in a specific niche, you can better understand the opportunities, challenges, and market trends that affect your clients and their properties. 

For instance, if you specialize in industrial properties, you will become an expert in environmental concerns, zoning regulations, and specific infrastructure requirements that are unique to industrial properties.

Specializing also helps you target your intended clients. 

By marketing yourself as an expert in a particular property type or use, you attract more clients who are looking for your expertise. 

Additionally, it helps you build a reputation, leading to more referrals and repeat business. 

It’s worth noting that you don’t necessarily have to specialize in a property type or use. 

You can also specialize in a specific geographic area or serve a particular client type, such as developers or investors. 

Step 6: Explore Further Career Options

Do you feel ready for new challenges and opportunities?

You already built your network and established a reputation as a commercial real estate agent. 

You may also explore various career paths beyond sales.

For instance, you may delve into property development, where you’ll oversee the process of acquiring land, construction, tenant leasing, financing, and more. 

Alternatively, you can explore corporate real estate manager roles, where you will be responsible for the daily operations of a property including repairs, maintenance, and staffing. 

Eventually, you may want to consider transitioning to a  commercial real estate broker. 

As a broker, you will have the opportunity to manage your own business and work with clients on a higher level. 

What’s more, you can build a team and mentor new agents as they begin their careers in commercial real estate.

For this, you can start by attending events, marketing your services, and maintaining a strong online presence. 

Once you have the necessary experience and knowledge, you can take the required coursework and pass the licensing exam to become a Broker. 

You may also need resources to improve your financial knowledge.

Frequently Asked Questions About Commercial Real Estate Agents

What Are the Obligations of a Commercial Real Estate Agent?

Commercial real estate agents have a wide range of duties and responsibilities, including:

  • Acquiring new clients by leveraging their professional networks and making cold calls
  • Scouting potential clients and properties 
  • Advice clients on actions to take 
  • Property leasing
  • Gathering information on the local demographics, environmental trends, and population
  • Scheduling and attending property inspections
  • Preparing legal documents
  • Negotiating and finalizing contacts between property owners, tenants, or buyers
  • Monitoring and analyzing the commercial real estate market
  • Planning marketing campaigns to showcase properties 

How Much Do Commercial Real Estate Agents Earn?

Commercial real estate agents earn a commission for each sale they make, which is usually calculated as a percentage of the property sale price.

As a result, the income of a commercial real estate agent may vary based on the properties they handle and the overall market conditions.

On average, they earn an annual salary of $55,575, to $95,476.

Of course, if you’re just starting out, you might earn less than these numbers. 

What Are the Challenges That Commercial Real Estate Agents Face?

Commercial real estate transactions are complicated and often require a significant amount of research on market trends, zoning laws, and properties. 

Due to the high stakes involved in commercial transactions, clients rely heavily on their agents to provide expert advice.

Since they mostly deal with multi-million dollar properties, it’s crucial to avoid any mistakes.

Here are the other main challenges faced by commercial real estate agents:

  • Dealing with difficult clients
  • Supply chain crisis
  • Negotiating complex deals
  • Intense competition from experienced agents
  • Keeping up with market trends
  • Juggling multiple projects and clients
  • Handling financial uncertainty and fluctuations
  • Inflation and interest rates

And while commissions can be higher, commercial agents may handle fewer transactions due to the limited availability of commercial spaces. 


And that is how to become a commercial real estate agent. 

It’s very similar to a residential real estate agent. 

But you need the extra steps, like building a commercial network and specializing in a commercial type.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can start working towards this challenging but fulfilling and rewarding career. 

Best of luck!

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