A Career as an Estate Agent
Estate Agents play an important role that requires a specific mix of skills enabling them to successfully coordinate what is, for many people, the largest and most expensive purchase they are ever likely to make.
A career in estate agency can be very diverse as there are a variety of areas in which to specialise:
Residential sales: coordinating the sale of property from the initial valuation and client instruction, through advertising and showing the property to potential purchasers, to the exchange and completion of the sale at the best possible price for the seller.
Commercial sales: very similar to residential sales but involving the sale of shops, offices, warehouses, factories etc.
Residential lettings: finding a suitable tenant for a property, drawing up the necessary agreements, arranging the collection of rent and often dealing with any financial or maintenance issues that arise throughout the tenancy.
Some Estate Agents are also involved in auctioneering, where the property is marketed in a similar fashion as with residential sales but put up for auction. The introduction of the Internet now means that Estate Agents are able to reach a much wider market; for example, a property that is for sale in London can be viewed by potential purchasers from around the country or overseas.
This sector is one that certainly offers a range of options and challenges and there are no specific academic entry requirements essential making it relatively easy to break into. Personality traits are much more important in this industry including communication and negotiation skills, the ability to manage relationships with customers and to obtain their trust, and a focus on achievement of targets. Knowledge of the local area is a definite plus as is the ability to drive. The basic salary is not always very high although there are usually performance-related bonuses dependent on how many house sales or even mortgage referrals are made each month. Also, company cars or a car allowance are often available to the more senior staff in the branch.
Most people enter into the profession either in an administrative capacity, where they assist with preparing property details and correspondence, or as a trainee negotiator. This will involve completing an intensive training course to ensure that they understand the legal requirements of the role and to enhance their selling skills. There are a number of professional qualifications that can be undertaken while working within the profession including those offered by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). NVQ qualifications in Property Services are now also available through the NAEA along with a Technical Award which enhances understanding of property construction, defects etc. Most Estate Agents will receive regular training to update their skills and ensure that they are informed of any changes in industry regulations. To progress even further within the industry, it is possible to study for a degree in Property Studies Management and Real Estate Management.
There are a number of progression opportunities available: senior negotiator, where you will have supervisory responsibility and more demanding targets to achieve; valuations manager, where you will be responsible for obtaining new instructions from vendors; and branch manager with responsibility for ensuring that the entire branch runs smoothly and achieves all targets. Larger estate agency chains also offer area manager roles and even more senior level positions while the competitive nature of the industry means that new estate agencies are being established all the time.
This is a challenging industry to work in because, as an Estate Agent, you are responsible for selling or letting your client’s most valuable asset and, as such, the transaction you are involved in is one that can result in a great deal of stress and anxiety for the client and the purchaser alike. You have to be able to resolve problems that arise and to deal with transactions that fail at the last minute. However, despite the inevitable pressures involved, the financial rewards are potentially very good indeed and the role is also an exciting and varied one with no two days being the same.
Author: James Innes