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The realms of commercial & residential real estate

By Beni Restea | January 11, 2024

The two dimensions of the real estate world, residential and commercial, have significant differences, and any aspiring agent needs to know what it all is about before biting off more than they can chew. It can be crucial to know in advance if you can do both commercial and residential real estate. Possessing these pieces of information can save you time and money and help make the right decision for your future. 

A real estate career is full of surprises, new opportunities, changes, and growth. An agent can find fulfillment in helping people find the home of their dreams, and they can experience the thrill of working with large companies as well. However, there are pros and cons to dealing with residential vs. commercial real estate! And every aspiring agent has to think through the possibilities in both domains to decide which field would suit their lives better. 

The brave few choosing to do both commercial and residential real estate are looking forward to a busy schedule but rewarding outcomes and experiences. The critical question here is: what would suit you the best? In this article, we’re about to dive into the details, so stick around. 

Understanding the differences between the two worlds

When starting a career in real estate, most agents choose to do one of the two: either commercial or residential. The reasons behind specializing in either one or the other can be many. From work hours involved to the type of network and personal preferences, all play a significant part in the choice. Depending on the state, there can be some differences in tests and licenses, and the different fields involve working with different client bases, too. Choosing to be a “double agent” also has its specifics.


Unless required otherwise by the law of the specific state the agent wants to practice in, the courses and exams for residential and commercial real estate are the same. However, the specialized training can be different. The on-the-job experience for the two can be different. In commercial real estate, financial and analysis knowledge can be crucial to succeed in the field. This is why a good specialized training from a knowledgeable brokerage who’s specialized in commercial real estate can be crucial for a fresh agent. Commercial brokers frequently hold college degrees. Enrolling in a four-year study session equips them with all the knowledge necessary to navigate the somewhat deeper waters of commercial real estate.


Since most states require the same license, a licensed agent can choose to sell both residential and commercial real estate. While most realtors prefer to specialize in one of the two and stick to their loved area of expertise, sometimes change is good. So, if you’re an agent, it’s important to note that switching or transitioning between the two is possible.

Different clients

Working in residential real estate ensures that there will always be clients. Having a roof over your head is a must-have. People change residences, buy homes, and look for flats all the time. This ensures a constancy for residential agents. However, commercial real estate depends on the economy and market fluctuations. There can be times with fewer possibilities and investment returns, which lead to disruptions in the flow. Commercial real estate can also take longer to sell, however, when they do, they offer higher yields. 

Jobs and salaries

The salaries of commercial real estate agents are generally higher. Commercial properties have much higher prices because of their location, purpose of use, or size. While those sell slower, the interest earned by the agent when the deal is closed is much higher than in the case of residential dwellings. On the other hand, residential real estate can also bring considerable returns because of the law of big numbers. A competent agent can earn a high salary in the residential field just as well. 

Understand what it takes to conquer both

While it’s legal for residential agents to try themselves in the commercial field, the latter might require different knowledge and skills. Since commercial real estate sales tend to be somewhat slower, the agent’s success depends on years of hard work, education, and experience. However, if you’re willing to walk the extra mile as a residential agent to prepare for the challenges of the commercial market, you can successfully cross over to the field. Still, it’s important to note that many investors prefer to work with agents who have the right certification because this can serve as a testimony of the level of expertise the agent has. Furthermore, any agent flirting with the idea of going commercial has to prepare for the inconsistency of income. Commercial transactions sometimes take months or even years. The agent needs to know in advance the risks and the possible pitfalls. Nonetheless, when a commercial property sells, the gains are usually much more significant - to the advantage of the agent.

Make the difference count by seeking out a mentor

Seeking out the help of a mentor who’s experienced in commercial real estate can be crucial for learning the nits and grits of the field. Even after specialized education, a fresh agent can benefit significantly from the guidance of an accomplished mentor. In the case of commercial real estate, where transactions can take a long time, and the agent needs to survive in the meantime, every bit of knowledge matters. The waiting can be challenging and definitely uncomfortable. The advice of a knowledgeable mentor can be crucial to kickstart a career in commercial real estate. Mentors can also offer advice on how to push through the bumpy roads. 

The bottom line 

Commercial and residential real estate are two different species, and successfully navigating both takes some dedication. The two require a different approach, both mentally and as a matter of preparation. While residential and commercial real estate agent licenses are the same in almost every state, the on-the-job training experiences can be very different. Enrolling in specialized education helps to understand and navigate the ups and downs of the economy better. The bottom line is that if a residential real estate agent wants to do commercial real estate too, they have the freedom to do so. However, they should make sure that they are equipped with everything they need to handle the various and elaborate transactions of commercial real estate. The world of commercial real estate is competitive, and success is often a matter of relentlessness and good connections. So, if you wish to do both fields at the same time, buckle up and reap the benefits when the time comes.

Beni is very passionate about real estate, finance and traveling, which is the motivating force behind the inspiring topics he writes about for
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