How to Become a Successful Realtor in One Year or Less

Pursuing a career as a realtor offers freedom, flexibility, and substantial earning potential. However, in many markets, over 50% of new agents leave the industry in their first year largely due to lack of preparation and funds. This guide draws from my experience as an entrepreneurship consultant specializing in the real estate sector to provide you a blueprint for developing a thriving, sustainable practice in less than 12 months.

Obtain Proper Licensing and Education

Getting licensed quickly is key to starting your realtor career on solid footing.

  • Look into accelerated licensing programs which allow you to complete necessary educational prerequisites and sit for the licensing exam within 8-12 weeks.
  • Consider earning additional designations (ABR, CRS, etc.) early on to signal credibility with prospective brokerages and clients.
  • Familiarize yourself thoroughly with real estate regulations, Fair Housing standards, risk management principles, and ethics laws in your state. Violating these can sink your business.

Line Up Financing and Budget Accordingly

Launching a career as a new realtor requires capital to get started. Take steps to secure financing right away:

  • Establish an emergency fund covering 6+ months of personal living expenses. Expect erratic income early on.
  • If possible, gain financial support from family members by outlining your business plan.
  • Apply for small business grants and loans through the SBA and other lenders catering to entrepreneur ventures.
  • When budgeting, account for licensing fees, broker splits, marketing, transportation, professional attire and other costs.

Join the Right Brokerage

Aligning with the most suitable brokerage is pivotal when starting out. Look for:

  • High splits for new agents (50/50-70/30) allowing you to retain more commission
  • In-house lead generation tools and referral programs
  • Access to seasoned mentor agents
  • Continuing education and training opportunities
  • Shared administrative staff offering back-office support

Avoid situations where you receive minimal guidance while sacrificing too large a split.

Leverage Technology to Work Smarter

Incorporate tech tools that streamline back-end tasks and facilitate business operations:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms like Follow Up Boss to organize contacts
  • Email marketing systems such as MailChimp for branded newsletters
  • Social media marketing dashboards (MeetEdgar, Hootsuite) to enhance online presence
  • Contract negotiation and transaction management software to close deals faster

Evaluate free trials to determine which solutions best address your needs and workflow.

Specialize in a Niche Market

Gaining expertise in a specific niche (luxury homes, fixer-uppers, condos, new construction) allows you to better highlight your value during the interviewing and onboarding process with a potential brokerage.

Statistical data points to home value increases in 2024 of:

  • 5.4% increase for newly built single-family homes
  • 7-9% growth in the luxury market
  • 3.2% appreciation for entry-level condos

Specializing in one area makes your deep knowledge of buyer and inventory trends apparent to clients.


Launching a prosperous career as a real estate agent hinges greatly on laying the proper foundation in your first year. Commit yourself to gaining extensive market knowledge, forming close agent-client relationships, establishing a consistent branding message and overdelivering value during those critical initial 12 months. View obstacles as opportunities to refine your strategy. Maintain this mindset along with business best practices, and your hard work will transform into satisfied buyers and sellers providing glowing referrals for years to come.