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Can You Travel as a Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents are bound by geographical perimeters, constrained by regulatory statutes, and tied to their brokers and local markets. Even with the technological advances that have rocked the industry in the past few years, real estate is not a cross-border industry.

If you are an aspiring real estate agent, you may be wondering: can you travel as a real estate agent? Hardly. Real estate agents often commute between open houses, property viewings, and client meetings. But moving between houses doesn’t necessarily fit the “travel” criteria.

There are instances, however, where agents may find themselves moving between cities, in an attempt to best serve their clients. Or to help a fellow agent who threw them a referral.

In this article, we’ll unearth the truth behind geographical boundaries and explore the extent to which real estate agents are shackled to their local markets. By delving into this piece, you’re signing up for an insightful journey that will broaden your understanding of how mobility factors into the life of a realtor.

Local Mobility for Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents often work within the confines of their own country, focusing their efforts on local markets. They serve as navigators, guiding clients through buying or selling properties within a specific region. This localized focus doesn’t mean they are completely stationary, though.

Local agents may find themselves traversing city streets to show properties, heading across town for meetings with clients or other industry professionals. Agents may also make trips to attend training sessions and seminars that keep them updated on market trends and regulatory changes.

Their sphere of movement usually revolves around their home base. But it can extend beyond this immediate area under certain circumstances.

For instance, if an agent has listings or potential buyers in another city from where they’re based, they might need to make regular journeys between these locations. However, this is a rare practice. Most agents prefer to gift the referral to an agent within that vicinity rather than make the commute.

Should you be the agent who prefers experience in every landscape, then you can take advantage of the portability law. The portability laws allow real estate agents licensed in one state to operate in another without fulfilling the licensing requirements in that state.

The but? Provided they collaborate with or submit to the supervision of a local broker.

This means an agent could potentially work across different states, depending on the portability law in that state, without having to permanently reside or be licensed in the state.

An example of a state with a good portability law is Alabama. The Heart of Dixie permits agents to physically complete transactions in the state without state-specific licensure. Alabama is what we call a cooperative state.

Becoming an International Real Estate Agent

For those real estate agents with a penchant for travel and an international outlook, the world of international real estate offers vast opportunities. These agents operate on a global scale, facilitating property transactions across different countries. Their role is not confined to one local market or country but spans continents.

Most international real estate agents support property sales within their country for non-residents. Think of a buyer from Europe or Africa interested in property in the U.S. An international agent would help them find property within the country and facilitate the sales process.

This nature of work may mandate jetting off to various countries for client meetings and deal negotiations.

Being licensed to join this group of realtors doesn’t differ much from the requirements you’d be expected to follow to become a real estate agent. You must first fulfill the licensing requirements in your state.

Once you have that credential under your belt, I’d suggest spending a year or two honing your sales and customer service techniques. This will prove beneficial when working with a diverse group of clients spread across the globe.

You might also want to learn your target market’s primary language and culture.

For further preparation, I’d also encourage taking a Certified International Property Specialist course. This is not a mandatory or legal demand. But it will help you gear up for the global market.

The complementary course is offered by the National Association of Realtors to prepare aspiring international agents to master the international landscape.

Deducting Travel Expenses

While real estate agents may not exactly make the “travel”  cut, the cases they do find themselves journeying beyond their home base are not without compensation.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has set guidelines that outline when and how travel expenses can be deducted from your taxable income. These rules are based on four tests:

1. Overnight and Away from Tax Home: For an expense to qualify as a deductible, the travel must involve an overnight stay away from your primary place of residence or usual place of business. In other words, it should require sleep or rest.

2. Related to Your Current Business: The purpose behind the journey must directly relate to your current real estate business operations. This could include attending client meetings, property viewings, industry conferences, or any activity that serves a legitimate business objective.

3. Reasonable for Your Business and Industry: The IRS also considers whether the cost and itinerary make sense given what you do and what others in your field typically spend on similar trips. Extravagant expenses or those not considered standard within the real estate sector might not pass this test.

4. Occur for a Business Purpose: while you’re allowed some personal downtime during your trip (like sightseeing after hours), the principal provable reason needs to be focused on advancing your business interests.

The Realistic Travels of a Real Estate Agent

While becoming a real estate agent may spell occupational landlock, there are a few windows for travel. But if you have your heart set on a plane, then consider pursuing a career in international real estate for opportunities for global travel and interaction.

Next Steps
If you’re interested in expanding your horizons as a real estate agent:

1. Research: Understand the portability laws of different states if you plan on working within the U.S.
2. Get Licensed: Consider obtaining an international property specialist certification if you’re interested in global operations.
3. Understand:
Familiarize yourself with IRS guidelines regarding deductible travel expenses related to business activities.

Have you had experiences traveling extensively for work? Or perhaps have dreams of taking your real estate career abroad? We’d love to hear about it! Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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