Becoming a transaction coordinator can be hard work, but if you’re a detail-oriented person who thrives in high-stress environments, it could be the perfect job for you. In this article, we’ll talk about what a transaction coordinator is, then talk about the qualities you’ll need and jobs that make for a smooth transition to transaction coordination.
From there we’ll talk about training, whether you need a license or certification, and a bit of advice on getting started as a transaction coordinator. Finally, we’ll close with a brief overview of transaction coordinator software that can help make your job easier.
What are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!
What is a Transaction Coordinator?
Transaction coordinators handle every part of a real estate transaction, from the time all parties sign the contract until closing. They know every step of the buying and selling process and monitor progress as they communicate with all parties involved in the transaction. They ensure that the real estate transaction is compliant and that all necessary documents are submitted to the appropriate parties.
To make it short and sweet, a real estate transaction coordinator (or TC) helps the real estate agent do their job well and makes them look good by taking care of administrative duties. This frees up the agent so they can do more client-facing work.
What Qualities Should You Have?
The qualities prospective transaction coordinators should have mostly involve attention to detail, working with a timeline, rising to a challenge, and working behind the scenes. The first step in how to become a real estate transaction coordinator involves whether you have the right qualities.
Attention to detail and working with a timeline
As a transaction coordinator, you’ll need to pay close attention to the details of the real estate transaction. You’ll also need to work according to a specific timeline, so if you can’t deliver something by a certain deadline, you shouldn’t look into becoming a transaction coordinator.
You have to be able to stay “on your toes” during the process, since no two transactions are alike. You should display high levels of control even in chaotic situations to become a top-of-the-line real estate transaction coordinator.
The ability to rise to a challenge
Becoming a transaction coordinator can be very intimidating when you’re first starting out. You should be prepared for that. You should also have a determination to get through those rough patches, knowing that you’ll learn and grow to better understand real estate transactions.
The approach you’ll have to this process can vary based on your personality, and in the beginning, you may not know when to be in control and when to be more flexible. You will learn as you go.
Desire to work “behind the scenes”
Transaction coordinator jobs are often great fits for introverted people as well. Real estate transaction coordination is essentially a “behind the scenes” job opportunity for people, since you can sit behind a computer and enter information all day.
Generally speaking, if you’re a people-person, you may want to consider becoming a real estate agent, whereas introverts will likely prefer real estate transaction coordination.
Outstanding Customer Service
Most agents hire transaction coordinators because they want help with the finer points of their transactions. This is why you need to provide outstanding customer service in order to be a great TC. You’ll need to develop a positive working relationship with your agents as well as their clients. Above all, you’ll need to help your agents’ clients see them as a shining star so they’ll get the referrals and glowing reviews they need to keep their real estate business going.
Make sure that you communicate clearly and professionally with your agents and their clients, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a top-notch real estate transaction coordinator.
Jobs that Lend Themselves Well to Becoming a Transaction Coordinator
At Close Concierge, we only hire people who already have experience as transaction coordinators.
However, if you’re looking to know if you may be a good transaction coordinator, here are some jobs that lend themselves well to being a successful transaction coordinator.
- Executive search. Since the job involves helping to recruit high-level senior talent for other companies, you’ll already know how to make the company (or person) you’re helping look good, and have an idea of what is needed.
- Project management. As a transaction coordinator, you’ll essentially be managing the “project” of the transaction. You’ll already know how to stick to a deadline and iron out details.
- Legal roles (such as paralegal, etc). If you’ve been in a legal role, you’ll understand the importance of compliance and taking care of the details in a contract. You’ll also be acquainted with some software to organize the documents and data – much like a transaction coordinator.
- Any job that requires grit, perseverance, and attention to detail in stressful situations. Being a transaction coordinator is an extremely stressful job, and if you can’t exhibit grace in the face of pressure, it may not be the job for you.
Experience in the Real Estate Industry
You’ll have a far easier time becoming a transaction coordinator if you’ve already got experience in the real estate industry. This is because real estate is a highly localized industry, and if you don’t have a grasp of real estate, you could end up making a huge mistake and asking an agent’s clients what earnest money is, as an agent who hired the wrong TC learned.
The best possible transaction coordinators are those who have already been real estate agents, but title officers can also make for amazing transaction coordinators. Working with a title company or closing attorney as an assistant is another real-estate friendly way to dip your toes into the world of being a transaction coordinator.
It all comes down to dealing with stress well and understanding the industry. Those qualities are key to the real estate transaction process.
Get Training to Become a Transaction Coordinator
Transaction coordinator training abounds, but how can you tell the good stuff from the “get rich quick” schemes? In this section, we’ll talk about how to find good transaction coordinator training programs, and then dive into ways to supplement your knowledge through the use of helpful videos.
Transaction Coordinator Training Programs
Good TC training programs are thorough and in-depth. They’ll need to be detailed, because you’re learning an entirely new skill set.
There are legalities involved in real estate, so it’s extremely important that you have a full grasp of what you can and can’t do in a transaction. You can’t get that by a “get rich quick” scheme or masterclass.
There are several TC training programs, including the Transaction Coordinator Academy, the TC Institute, and Freedom Real Estate Services’ Transaction Coordinator Training. Check them out if you’re interested!
Red flags to look for
One of the telltale signs of a shady TC training program is one that urges you to “just get started.” As we discussed above, real estate transactions are legal transactions, and doing the wrong thing can get you into deep trouble and set you up for failure.
Many of the things that real estate agents can lose their licenses over involve administrative duties – some of which are duties that you should be performing as the transaction coordinator. In fact, between 2017-2019 in Texas, about half of the revocations and suspensions of licenses were due to administrative duties that weren’t taken seriously.
If certain terms of contracts are violated because you’ve not paid close enough attention to the details, it may have repercussions on the agent working with you. And if their license is at stake – they’ll definitely want to warn other agents about you.
Make sure your training is detailed and that you have ample time to get any questions answered that you may have. It’ll take longer but trust us – it’s worth it in the long run!
Watch Videos for More Pointers
Paisley Vartanian, a professional transaction coordinator, talks about the importance of getting things done quickly.
“The key thing for me is understanding that you need to front-load your files. Whether you’re on the listing side or the sale side, you really want to get everything done as soon as possible. It’s not only to the benefit of the transaction coordinator, but everybody on the file. If any discrepancies come up or any red flags for the buyer or the seller, it can be handled in a more timely fashion.”
She also advises that some clients prefer frequent communication. “Sometimes, when I was working a full time job and transaction coordinator, the feedback I would get is that people wanted more handling (and) more communication. I didn’t have time (to say) ‘Hi, just checking in,’ and some people just don’t like to work that way.”
Christal Allen is another transaction coordinator, and she offers prospective TCs plenty of resources on YouTube. She’s got an extensive library of free videos on becoming a Real Estate TC with different topics.
The thing you need to know about watching videos is that videos (especially free videos) are no replacement for formal training.
You’ve got to gain the necessary skills from your training first, and then if you can gain added insight from videos, the more power to you. Just don’t try to use it as a substitute for training.
Do You Need a Real Estate License?
You may wonder if you need a real estate license to become a transaction coordinator. The answer to this question is – no! Some states require certification for TCs and others don’t.
Here’s a breakdown of transaction coordinator requirements, by state (by no means is this a comprehensive list, but if you want one, check here):
- California. Transaction coordinators in CA are required to take CTC Certification courses. Licensees take 2 required courses and 2 electives, whereas non-licensees need 3 required courses and 2 electives. Here’s more info on CTC requirements.
- Texas. In Texas, a transaction coordinator can work with a real estate agent, but are barred from doing any activities which would require that they hold a license. For a more detailed breakdown of things unlicensed assistants can do in Texas, check out the linked article.
- Florida. You don’t need to be licensed in the state of Florida, but like Texas, you will be unable to perform some of the tasks that real estate agents can do.
- Illinois. Again, a license is not required, but you’ll be legally barred from doing certain real estate agent activities, like showing property, explaining contracts, or negotiating commissions.
Becoming a Successful Transaction Coordinator
Many transaction coordinators start out with a team or at a brokerage and eventually move on to start their own business. In this section, we’ll cover where you can start to learn the ropes of being a TC, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each option.
Starting out as a transaction coordinator
When you start at a brokerage or working with a team, you get to enjoy the team morale and the benefits of working with others. You can attend regular meetings with others in your brokerage or office that will provide you with information about what’s going on in the industry, and you can attend training sessions that your brokerage will pay for you to attend.
Working with an office or as part of a team also enables you to become acclimated throughout the process. They’re there with you every step of the way to make sure you’re understanding key takeaways about their process. It could take up to a year to be trained on how to list or conduct home sale transactions, so being part of a team can be an invaluable support for those starting to learn the ropes.
Liability is also reduced by working with a brokerage. The group or office will already have liability insurance so you won’t have to purchase additional liability insurance. For example, here at Close Concierge, all of our TCs get to enjoy the liability insurance that protects our employees and our clients from omissions and errors.
Tips to become a better transaction coordinator
Here are some tips for you to use to “up your game” as a transaction coordinator:
- Talk to the agent about introductions. Sometimes the real estate agent will want to introduce you to the client, and other times they’ll prefer that you do it. Have a conversation with them about who should be making the introduction so the process runs smoothly.
- Make sure you know who to copy on emails. Every real estate agent has a different way of doing it, so clarify that with your agent up front. Generally, agents don’t mean to leave out those details, they’re just not thinking about it.
- Make your agent look good. Unfortunately, some agents are so busy that they can’t take as much time to answer your questions as you need them to. Regardless of how responsive they are, make sure they look good. Be professional in your communications.
- Find other ways to get in touch. If you try emailing and get no response, seek out other ways to communicate. For example, you can send two emails and then move to making phone calls. You may even get an agent who uses fax machines. People respond to different types of communication.
- Be direct when you need more. It’s not rude to be direct with your agent. Don’t be afraid to tell them, “I don’t have this document yet.” If you still don’t hear from the people you need to hear from, make sure you reinforce when the deadlines will be.
Typical Workload for Transaction Coordinators
The workload for transaction coordinators can be extremely varied, depending on how motivated you are as a transaction coordinator. If you’re working from “hard copy” files, the best that most TCs can do is 30-40 files a month. However, transaction coordinators who utilize technology and transaction management software can work on up to 200 files per month.
Find the Right Transaction Management Software
Since every transaction coordinator will have different needs, it doesn’t make sense to blindly grab one transaction management software and assume it will work for your needs. In our article about transaction management software, we covered some of the most well-known TMS options out there, but a common complaint among them all was that realtors needed better functionality.
“One-size-fits-all” doesn’t work in the world of transaction coordination, so we highly recommend that you give any transaction management software you’re looking for a “test run” before you need to conduct a transaction with it. Consider every need that may come up and play around with the software. Here at Close Concierge, we use over 10 different kinds of software, and some of those are custom-built to accommodate our individual needs as well as those of our clients.
Here’s a quick list of some of the TMS software mentioned in our article, as well as recommendations from other transaction coordinators:
- Transactions (ZipForm Edition)
- TC Workflow (If you’re working from G-Suite)
- TC Docs (If you’re working with Evernote)
Being a Transaction Coordinator is a Great Choice
If you’ve got what it takes to be a transaction coordinator, you should definitely pursue it! Many transaction coordinators make a decent amount of money from it, and if you decided to come work at Close Concierge after a few years, you would make even more. We strongly believe that a great transaction coordinator should be a full-time employee and enjoy all the benefits thereof, including great health, dental, and vision benefits as well as profit-sharing.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on how to become a transaction coordinator. Stay tuned for more articles on real estate transactions!
Sean is CEO at Close Concierge. His goal is two-fold: to create the best company in the world to work for & to create the number one customer service company in the world, regardless of industry. He believes achieving both of these goals happens at the same time
Sean started his career at the Boston Consulting Group, where he met his wife. They live in Chicago with their son, London. Sean graduated The Wharton School with honors.