One of the most exciting parts about launching a new career in real estate is the opportunity for nearly limitless earning potential. Real estate can be an incredibly lucrative career, with your earnings dependent on the amount of time and effort you put in, the housing prices in your area, and the commission agreement that you have with your Broker. 

However, there are a variety of startup costs associated with becoming a real estate agent, as well as everyday operational costs necessary for running a business. In 2020, REALTORS®’ total median business expenses were $5,330, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 Member Profile. 

Depending on the brokerage that you join, some resources or day-to-day necessities could be provided for you, but that’s not guaranteed. So, if you’re getting ready to start a new career as a real estate agent, make sure you create a budget that factors in these expenses. 


Most REALTORS® say that their largest category of business expenses is vehicle expenses, according to the NAR report. In 2020, REALTORS® paid a median of $1,200 in vehicle expenses. As a real estate agent, you will spend a lot of time driving, and it’s important to be prepared for the cost of gas, car repairs, and vehicle upkeep. 


Marketing costs will vary widely depending on the kind of advertising you’re doing, but the category includes yard signs, flyers, business cards, or website costs. In 2020, REALTORS® typically spent a median of $60 to maintain a website, the NAR report says. 

Don’t forget that there are plenty of low-cost or free marketing strategies that you can take advantage of as a new agent, including social media. 


The day-to-day costs of running a business fall into this category, including office supplies such as printer paper and ink. You’ll also need access to technology such as a mobile phone and a personal computer, as well as a reliable internet connection and phone plan. 

Professional Fees 

You will need to pay regular fees to maintain your license, but each state has its own license renewal requirements and renewal schedule, so it’s essential to check your local requirements. You might also choose to join an industry association such as the Nationals Association of REALTORS®, which requires annual dues. 

Additionally, your brokerage might provide you with access to a multiple listing service, but if it doesn’t, you will be responsible for the cost, which could be anywhere from $20-100 per month. 

Career Development 

Training and education are essential to your success as a real estate agent. Your state will require a certain amount of Continued Education when you renew your license, which will keep you up to date on the latest industry regulations and trends. You might also choose to take on additional training or attend real estate conferences. Although some training and networking opportunities can be costly, for agents seeking to stay relevant, these costs are necessary. 

Do you need to complete your Continuing Education requirements? Try The CE Shop’s convenient online courses today. Our award-winning curriculum was created with your long-term success in mind. 

Brokerage Firm 

One other factor to consider as you’re evaluating your earning potential and planning for expenses as a real estate agent is what your commission split will be with your brokerage.  

Most agents are paid through commission, although some also make a small salary. An agent’s commission is a percentage of the sale price of a home, and it’s typically split several ways. In residential real estate, the average commission is 5-6% of the sale price. That commission is then split between the buyer’s agent, the seller’s agent, and their respective Brokers. The amount of money you take home after a sale will be dependent on the commission split that you’ve arranged with your Broker. Your commission split might change over time once you gain more experience.  

While it’s important to plan for your expenses as a real estate agent, one of the most exciting parts about a new career in real estate is the relatively low barrier to entry. Unlike with other professions, you won’t have to invest years of your life or tens of thousands of dollars to become a real estate agent. You will also clearly be able to see the results of the time, effort, and money you invest in your career.