Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Real Estate Agent

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably. Use your character's occupation to characterize them to readers. Here's information about being a realtor. #writing Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Below is a sample version of this entry to help you see how an occupation can reveal your character’s beliefs, history, goals, and more.

To view the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers where it resides within the largest fiction-based descriptive database ever created. (Free Trial available.)

Occupation: Real Estate Agent Overview: A Realtor® or real estate agent, oversees the buying and selling of homes (or properties, commercial or residential). For a seller, they will investigate comparative properties to aid homeowners in setting a price, set up the listing, arrange for pictures and obtain home specs to include in advertisements and website listing… If the character’s clients are the buyers, they will research suitable listings based on the client’s needs and price, understand current lending rates and convey this to clients should they need this information, set up viewings, investigate the area for information on schools, services, property taxes Agents must be flexible, attentive, efficient, and hands on, as often the buying and selling of a home is time sensitive, especially in a hot market. A character in this job must attend to all client needs promptly, and be willing to… Necessary Training: Agents take a pre-licencing course (the length of which depends on the country and state) where they learn the terminology of the business, realty practices and processes like how to assess a home’s value, understand banking processes, lending rules, and how to be an effective advocate and negotiator. After meeting the training time of the course, they must.. Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, a knack for making money, carpentry, charm, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, haggling, hospitality, lip-reading, lying, making people laugh… Helpful Character Traits: ambitious, analytical, bold, calm, charming, confident, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, efficient, extroverted… Sources of Friction: clients who aren’t ready to pull the trigger and just want to look and see what’s out there, wasting everyone’s time, competitive agents vying for the same sale (few listings and many real estate agents), clients who are late or especially demanding, clients who are hoarders or leave their home a mess before a showing, a theft that happens during an open house, clients who refuse to get financially pre-approved and then… People They Might Interact With: administration staff, bank employees and mortgage brokers, freelance photographers and copy writers How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
  • Self-Actualization:  Because of the huge time commitment and irregularity of hours in this profession, a character may find they do not have the time or energy to devote to meaningful goals or growing their knowledge
  • Esteem and Recognition: Within the industry, quarterly and yearly sales are constantly being used as a metric to judge the agent’s abilities, and competition is fierce. A bad month or two can
  • Love and Belonging: The non-steady hours and need to always be hustling for work in tough markets means often family and relationships come second…
  • Safety and Security: Because an agent may not always know who is going to show up for an appointment or to walk through an open house, it is possible that they could be in danger if caught in a home alone with…
Common Work-Related Settings: attic, backyard, bank, barn, basement, big city street, break room, child’s bedroom, coffeehouse, elevator, farm, flower garden, garage, gas station, kitchen, living room, man cave, mansion, nursery, office cubicle, parking lot, patio deck, penthouse suite, ranch, residential bathroom, run-down apartment, small town street, teenager’s bedroom, tool shed, wine cellar, workshop Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: In fiction and film, Real Estate Agents often seem to come across as a bit pushy and overly friendly, and usually only point out the highlights of the property. Why not have your character’s ethics and values cause them to be overly honest about the property, even if it means costing a sale? Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.

How will your character’s occupation help reveal their innermost layers?

Much of your character’s life will revolve around their work, and whether they love it or hate it, their job is a great way to show, not tell, their personality traits, skills, work ethic, worldview and beliefs, and more, so we should choose it with care. Some of your scenes may take place at work, involve co-workers, or even highlight relationship friction between their work and personal life. To convey this accurately, you need to understand key details about what their job entails. Don’t worry, we’ve done the research for you!

Characterize. Add realism. Push the plot forward as the character’s career influences the story.

The Occupation Thesaurus is waiting to help you within our signature descriptive database at One Stop For Writers. If you like, give the FREE TRIAL a spin, or check out our very affordable plans.


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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13 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Real Estate Agent

  1. Steve says:

    This gets so much wrong about the description of a real estate agent, that I’m not even going to bother with any of the other entries. It’s a good idea, but would really only be useful if you actually did you research, and not just jotted down the stuff you learned from TV.

    • Hi Steve,

      I’m sorry you feel that way. I can tell you I did significant research on this topic, but this is certainly not comprehensive and we always encourage writers do their own research depending on the real-world location they are working in. There will be differences depending on the country/state/province/county where you practice as terminology, educational components, regulations, and the type of real estate being sold all supply different variables. And of course, depending on the age of the character and how long they have been practicing will also create differences as the ecosystem they learned the business is always evolving.

      Please, by all means feel free to share your own individual experience so that all writers can get a better handle on this profession. 😉


      • Steve says:

        “Significant research” is not reflected in the fact that you missed that “Realtor” is a trademarked term and not just a synonym for real estate agent.

        “Real Estate Agents always come across as a bit pushy and overly friendly, and usually only point out the highlights of the property. Why not have your character’s ethics and values cause them to be overly honest about the property, even if it means costing a sale?”

        -is frankly just insulting. I’ve NEVER known an agent who wasn’t ethical to a fault. An honest agent isn’t a fun twist. It should be the norm. Like a writer that does research.

        • Ah, I see where the confusion is, and why you are upset. The “Twisting Stereotypes” section is not a real-world judgement of a profession, but rather a judgement on how that profession is stereotyped a certain way in fiction and film. In other words, often in movies, TV shows and fiction, Real Estate Agents are portrayed as pushy and over friendly, which may be true for some real agents, but certainly unfair to paint them all that way. We suggest people not fall into this shortcut because it can be cliche and lazy writing and instead come up with something fresh. This is reinforced in the second paragraph: Characters cast in this role are always well-groomed and articulate. Why not try a character who doesn’t care about what others think of how he or she dresses, but is exceptionally good at what they do, so much so that rumpled clothing or rougher language is overlooked?

          To clarify, here’s a section from our main post describing the main fields of the Occupation Thesaurus:

          Twisting Stereotypes. In fiction, we can often see characters with a specific job be cast in a stereotypical light (which can be unrepresentative and cliche) to further the plot or act as a characterization short cut. We will offer ways to twist these so you don’t fall into a trap that may do a disservice to your story.”

          I can see how this was confusing for you though, so I rephrased the first line to: In fiction and film, Real Estate Agents often seem to come across as a bit pushy and overly friendly, and usually only point out the highlights of the property.

          I hope you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt as no offense was meant, and this is certainly no judgement on the profession in the real world. 😉

          As for the trademark symbol, yes, I missed that and have corrected it.

          I hope this helps shed light on this entry, and our intent.

  2. Erika Hayes says:

    This entry has me giggling… as my husband is mostly the twist on the stereotype, while his language is not the issue I often say, really you’re wearing that to meet a client? I have also seen him tell people that the home they are wanting to purchase is overpriced and has talked a client out of buying a house just before the bubble popped because he knew it would put them upside down and in financial trouble. The client ended up going through another realtor and bought the house and six months later called my husband to apologize and ask if he could help them … they have since purchased another home through my husband. He knows that people are more important than money, and lives by that. Thanks for the giggle, as I read to him the twist he just smiled and said, he was happy to be a twisted stereotype!

    • I love this! I have met ethical realtors and dealt with many unethical ones. When you find a good one you hang onto them and use them house to house to house, because trust is so important with big purchases. Way to be awesome, Erika’s Hubby!

  3. I love the idea of an occupation Thesaurus! I am always reluctant to write about jobs I have zero knowledge of. I l think the level of detail you’ve gone to is great – very helpful, thank you!

  4. Pingback: Writing Links 3/19/18 – Where Genres Collide

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