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Estate Agent

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Estate Agent

Tell me about it

Estate agents specialise in valuing, marketing and selling or letting property on behalf of their clients. They earn their living by taking a percentage of the sales price of a property, after finding a buyer for the client.

Often known as sales negotiators, agents might be involved with residential sales, lettings and property management, commercial and business work, business transfer, and property auctioning.

The work can involve visiting properties both to value them and to show them to prospective purchasers, writing up sales brochures, negotiating an acceptable purchase price, and liaising with other people, such as solicitors, banks and building societies. The agency may also have a website, which has to be constantly updated with details of properties available.

Entry level

There are no formal entry requirements for trainee estate agents, although GCSEs/S grades (A*-C/1-3) or higher-level qualifications could be useful. There are relevant degree courses in subjects such as property studies management and real estate management, but it is equally possible to start as a receptionist or clerical assistant and move on to become a trainee estate agent.

You would normally need two or three A level/Advanced Higher, four Higher or equivalent qualifications for admission to a degree course approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. 
Whilst academic qualifications are always helpful and applicable, personal qualities and abilities are the most important aspect. Increasing legislation means that estate agents require a good knowledge of relevant law and it can help to be able to show clients or potential employers that you are a professional with a good knowledge of the business.

Making the grade

You would normally start as a trainee sales negotiator and learn on the job from experienced colleagues. Your training may include the chance to achieve industry-recognised qualifications, such as the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFOPP) Level 3 Technical Awards in Sale of Residential Property, Residential Letting and Property Management, Commercial Property Agency or Auctioneering and Valuation.

With experience, you can progress to NFOPP Level 5 Diploma courses.

As your career develops, you might become a senior negotiator or manage a department within a firm. Larger agencies could provide more opportunities for promotion, particularly for staff prepared to change location. You could become a partner in a firm, or set up your own agency.

Personal qualities

As an estate agent, you would have to like meeting all sorts of people and be good at negotiating and communicating.  Buying or selling a house is often the single most important financial transaction that people make, and many find it very stressful.  The housing market is complicated, often involving 'chains' of buyers and sellers, deals often fall through and as a consequence feelings can run high.  You would need to be tactful and sympathetic to cope with this, but you would also need to be an effective salesperson, capable of surviving in a very competitive business environment.

Looking ahead

The housing market suffered very badly during the recession of 2008-10, with a massive drop in sales, widespread redundancies, falling house prices and potential buyers finding great difficulty in securing mortgage finance. For a number of years before that, however, the market had been extremely buoyant and all the indicators suggest that it will be again at some stage in the future.  If you pursue a career in estate agency, you must accept that this is a field that fluctuates and that your prospects and your pay will tend to rise or fall in relation to the volume of sales you generate.

Alternative suggestions

Other possibilities might include auctioneer, building surveyor, general practice surveyor, housing manager, land agent or rural practice surveyor.

Take-home pay

Salaries vary greatly, depending on location, qualifications, specialism, size of firm and the economic climate in the property market and the building industry.
Starting pay is usually around £17,000 to £20,000 but you would often receive commission, so the more houses you sell the more you would make.  At senior level, salaries range from £25,000 to £50,000 plus. Working hard, networking and getting your name and face known are all important factors.  You would be dealing closely with solicitors, banks and other lending organisations and it would be to your advantage to build up personal contacts.  If you progress to become a partner, you could earn significantly more, depending on the success of the agency and the state of the economy at the time.

Effects

Estate agents usually work from about 9 to 5, Monday to Saturday. However, some agencies in larger towns may open in the evening and on Sundays, and agents may need to meet clients and buyers outside normal working hours.

Agents are based in an office, but are likely to spend a lot of time visiting properties, showing prospective buyers around, or checking the progress of a sale.

Sources of information

National Federation of Property Professionals: www.nfopp.co.uk  
National Association of Estate Agents: www.naea.co.uk 
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors: www.rics.org   
Asset Skills: www.assetskills.org 

 


 

 

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