Commercial Broker Job Duties

Research what it takes to become a commercial broker. Learn about training requirements, job outlook, licensure and career outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Finance Investments & Securities degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Commercial Broker?

A commercial broker, also known as a commercial real estate broker, owns a real estate business that facilitates the rental and sale of commercial properties. They assist both buyers and sellers with property transactions, often advising them on concerns such as crime and traffic in the area, as well as legal issues like zoning laws. In addition, brokers oversee business operations within a real estate establishment, which includes supervising the activities of real estate agents and managing the budget.

While a degree isn't required to become a commercial real estate broker, these professionals need to have completed a pre-licensing real estate program. The table below provides details on the education and career statistics.

Training Required Real estate training program
Key Skills Interpersonal, problem-solving, research and negotiation skills
Licensing Real estate brokers must be licensed in all states and the District of Columbia
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% (for all real estate brokers)*
Mean Salary (2015) $80,210 (for all real estate brokers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Might My Job Duties Be as a Commercial Broker?

A commercial broker is a licensed real estate broker who specializes in non-residential properties, such as retail spaces, office spaces or industrial facilities. As a commercial broker, you might focus on investment sales, which involves marketing real estate commodities for the owner or owners. Alternatively, you could focus on leasing brokerage, working as an intermediary between property owners and potential tenants.

You might help tenants locate properties that suit their needs, seek new tenants for specific properties on behalf of the owners or help negotiate terms of the deal for either side. Typically, you work for either one side or the other, but in some cases you might represent both the tenant and property owner.

Where Might I Work?

As opposed to residential real estate brokers, who are often self-employed, as a commercial broker, you're more likely to work for a large brokerage firm, at least early on in your career. Large national and international and firms exist with offices in various cities and markets. With experience and a large client base, however, you might successfully start your own brokerage business.

How Do I Prepare for this Job?

No one educational path exists for becoming a real estate broker. Licensing requirements across all states dictate that you have at least a high-school diploma and experience selling real estate. In order to become licensed in most states, you will need to complete somewhere between 60-90 hours of classroom training and take an exam. Once you get your license, continuing education is typically required to keep it current.

With a bachelor's degree or less, you might be able to land an entry-level position in a brokerage firm. However, many brokerage firms may prefer or require applicants to have a college education. Certain states may also waive the experience requirement for licensing for those with a bachelor's degree in real estate. Certificate, associate degree and bachelor's degree programs are available in real estate, but a degree in marketing, finance, business administration or a related field may also be applicable. Some employers may seek brokers who've earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Courses in marketing and finance are particularly relevant to attracting clients, closing sales and understanding complex financial transactions.

Entry-level jobs exist in both investment sales and leasing brokerage, so you may have to start at the bottom and work your way up. For example, at a commercial real estate brokerage firm, you might start out working as an apprentice for an experienced broker or agent, perhaps performing market research. In investment sales, you might start out as a marketing associate, research analyst, underwriter or due diligence analyst before becoming a broker. Once you become an experienced broker, opportunities for advancement may exist in upper management.

Other skills that should serve you well in this field include a sense of entrepreneurship and the ability to sell your product. You must be self-motivated to seek out new opportunities and make contacts everywhere you go, especially if you're working on a commission basis. You'll also need a thorough knowledge of your market.

How Much Could I Earn?

As a commercial broker - either in leasing or investment sales - you're likely to be paid a minimal salary or no salary at all. Instead, you'll be paid commission based on the profit or fees you generate for the firm. Earnings may be minimal at first, but as your contacts list grows, there may be little limit to how much you can earn. Thus, while becoming a commercial broker could be considered a risky career move, it also holds the potential for high rewards. Additionally, you might find working for commission a motivating challenge and enjoy the sense of having truly earned every penny you make.

Because compensation is typically commission-based, earnings for this field vary widely. According to national salary data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, real estate brokers earned a mean salary of $80,210 as of May 2015. Brokers who worked in the offices of real estate agents and brokers made a mean income of $84,230 at the same time.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

As a real estate broker, instead of selling commercial properties, you could focus your career on the sale of residential properties, such as homes and apartment buildings. Some also choose to sale industrial or agricultural real estate. For any real estate broker position, you need a high school diploma and a real estate broker's license. Another option in the commercial real estate industry is a job as a commercial appraiser. Commercial appraisers evaluate individual properties, such as stores, restaurants and office buildings, in order to determine their monetary value. Based on their findings, they prepare reports. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a bachelor's degree.

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