How are real estate agents paid?

By commissions as delineated in the listing agreements (also often called exclusive right to sell agreements or “ERTS”) which they negotiate with sellers when they’re hired to represent sellers and take the seller’s real estate to the market. Because of this, the vast majority of real estate agents are independent contractors who receive a 1099 at the end of the year. Since the majority of agents are 1099’ed and do not receive employment benefits like health care or pensions, many agents hold second jobs, or have pensions themselves, or create portfolios for their future retirement through their own investment activity.