Of all the professions that hold out the potential for serious earnings, few are as easy to enter as real estate. Instead of spending years in grad school, with the help of an online course and a few months of dedicated study, you can learn everything you need to know about real estate law in your jurisdiction. Once you pass the licensing exam, you can start practicing as an agent.

If you want to know more about what the real estate course involves, you can learn more at RealEstateU today (every state is different, and you’ll need to find out what the licensing requirements are where you live). But becoming licensed is just the beginning, and if you want to thrive as a real estate agent, there are five key skills you will need to cultivate.

  1. Organization

One of the reasons many people are drawn to real estate is because they are excited by the prospect of being able to operate independently. While this is certainly one of the perks of the job, it also means that real estate agents need to be highly organized. If you can’t keep track of showing times, client communications, and which properties are on the market, you are going to have a hard time closing sales, making those all-important commissions, and generating new business.

  1. Responsiveness

Real estate agents generally have a lot of things on the go, and often work very long hours. This can make staying on top of communications a major challenge. But responding quickly and professionally to potential clients and property managers is an essential part of the job, and there is no surer way to tank your career as a realtor than to leave messages unanswered and calls unreturned.

  1. A Knowledge of the Market

A common mistake young real estate agents make is to think they can do everything. Real estate is a huge industry, and like most industries, it rewards those who invest in cultivating a niche and then learning everything they can about it.

If you specialize in the sale of suburban residential homes, for example, you will need to know everything about that sector of the market if you want to stay on top of shifting trends and serve your clients well.

  1. Ability to Negotiate

Negotiation is the real estate agent’s bread and butter, and knowing how to negotiate effectively is often what makes the difference between a competent real estate agent and a great one.

Negotiation isn’t just about knowing when to be firm and when to be flexible: successful negotiation relies on understanding how the buyer and seller’s interests intersect with larger market dynamics so that you can get everyone a deal they are happy with.

  1. Honesty

Finally and perhaps most importantly, real estate agents need to be honest. Blurring the truth or telling an outright lie may get you a sale today, but once the word gets out that clients cannot trust you, your reputation — and your career — are going to take a hit.

Most prospective homeowners understand that buying property is always going to involve striking a balance between what they want and what they can afford. It is always better to simply be candid with people about what they are looking at.

Real estate is an industry that many enter and few excel at, and the difference between real estate winners and losers usually just comes down to dedication. If you want to make your career in real estate a success, you need to cultivate these habits and practices. The good news is that these are skills that anyone can learn, and for those who apply themselves the sky is the limit.