What is an Estate Agent?
As an estate agent, you will be responsible for liaising with a network of clients, solicitors and other property professionals to sell and let residential or commercial properties.
You will also be responsible for visiting the properties to value and market them. You should always have your client’s best interests at heart to make sure you deliver the best possible price. You will occasionally have to liaise with banks, building societies, mortgage brokers, surveyors, solicitors and other estate agencies during transactions.
You’ll usually specialise in one area of estate agency, such as:
- Residential sales
- Residential lettings
- Commercial sales
- Commercial lettings
- Rural estate.
As an estate agent in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you’ll need to:
- Collect information about a property and arrange for photographs to be taken
- Visit and talk to sellers about their property and its special features
- Estimate the value of a property
- Market and promote properties for sale
- Represent the sellers in negotiation with prospective buyers
- Monitor sales as they proceed and liaise with all interested parties including mortgage brokers, solicitors, surveyors and other estate agents
- Advise clients and help buyers decide what they want to buy
- Make sure that the price agreed is acceptable to both buyer and seller
- Keep up to date with trends in the relevant property market.
If you work in the lettings area of estate agency, you’ll need to:
- Vet prospective tenants by collecting references and doing credit checks
- Ensure properties meet legal and health and safety requirements, e.g. gas safety certificates
- Draw up tenancy agreement contracts
- Collect or organise rent payments
- Act as a property manager and resolve any issues that arise with properties.
In Scotland, property sales are usually handled by a solicitor.
Starting salaries for estate agents can range from £14,000 to £20,000 on-target earnings (OTE). After you have gained some experience, you can expect to earn between £25,000 to £60,000 plus commission. Once in a more senior role, you could be earning up to £100,000 - especially if you’re in a high-end London agency.
Your salary will usually involve a basic salary plus commission and bonuses, which are usually based on your percentage of sales. This will vary depending on location, qualifications, the size of the firm, and the stability of the market.
At first, you may be employed on a guaranteed initial commission however, this will be for a limited period to gain some experience, start securing deals and grow your network. The higher your fixed salary is, the lower your commission rate will be.
You should expect to work 35 to 40 hours a week however, you may be required to work additional hours, especially when completing deals for clients. You may also be expected to work unsocial hours, including evening work and weekends.
It is possible to be self-employed or work on a freelance basis, with experience this will be easier as you will already be established. Success will depend on the state of the market,
What to expect
- Work is office-based, but you’ll also spend a significant amount of time visiting properties, either for valuations and marketing opportunities or for viewings with potential buyers.
- Because travel within a working day is so frequent, a full driving licence is extremely helpful and is likely to be a requirement of the job.
- You’ll be expected to dress smartly.
A degree is not an essential entry requirement for this career but increasing competition for employment means that having a degree, foundation degree or HND in one of the following subjects may give you an advantage:
- Business-related studies
- Civil and structural engineering
- Estate management
- Property development/management
- Urban and land studies.
You may be able to enter the profession at an administrator level and then progress to the position of an estate agent as you gain experience.
Previous experience is not required, but a background in customer-facing roles such as sales will allow you to demonstrate that you have the transferable skills necessary to succeed. There are increasing amounts of legislation applicable to property transactions, which needs to be understood by those in the profession, so experience in legal work may also be an advantage.
must have skills:
You will need to show:
- Skills in negotiation and persuasion to win clients and succeed with deals
- A confident and outgoing manner to gain trust and give reassurance
- Commercial awareness and the ability to achieve sales targets
- Excellent communication skills for liaising with professional contacts
- Customer service focus to keep clients happy
- Determination, perseverance and patience
- An understanding of marketing techniques to help market the properties
- IT skills.
You do not need a degree or particular experience to break into the real estate industry. It’s common to find trainee negotiator opportunities where full training is given
Experience in a similar field where you are able to demonstrate transferable skills is desired, such as sales, administration or IT.
You could enquire about the possibility of a work experience opportunity to shadow someone in an estate agency while you search for jobs. This would demonstrate your interest in working in the property sector, help you make contacts and may even lead to a job.
Most estate agents work in independent, private estate agency practices. These companies can range in size from small one-branch agencies to larger companies with multiple offices.
The bigger agencies often have specialist divisions in commercial, rural, corporate or residential property, planning, surveying and property investment.
You may be able to find a graduate recruitment scheme within an estate agency, although these are mainly within the larger firms which have many branches.
You may enter the industry as a trainee or assistant sales or letting negotiator and progress up the ladder naturally. You will gain experience selling and letting different types of properties and land, and perhaps deal with higher value properties.
You will usually receive on the job training and will have an induction course which usually will be between one or two weeks. This will run you through the business and the various processes involved.
Training can include areas such as:
- Conveyancing practice and procedure
- Dealing with difficult people
- Effective estate agency
- Effective leadership
- Essential law for residential estate agents
- First-class customer service.
A common progression route involves moving into the role of a senior sales negotiator, and then with further experience, to that of branch manager of a small office. As branch manager you would manage staff in the branch, carry out senior-level sales or lettings negotiations and mentor junior sales negotiators.
After branch manager, there is often a bottleneck in promotion opportunities. However, with substantial experience, it can be possible to reach the position of area manager, in which you would manage several branches.
A degree is not necessary for a career as an estate agent. However, if you wish to go to university you may want to consider the following degrees:
The BA Business course at UWS offers a broad-based and comprehensive understanding of business, from theory and strategy to operational issues.
Key elements of the course include talks from, and visits to, local and national employers and varied assessment formats, including case studies and portfolio building. Many of the course core module skills are in line with the requirements for graduate trainee programmes, helping you to prepare for a career in national and international organisations.
UWS’s BA Management programme will help you develop the knowledge and skills sought after by employers. You’ll draw on your existing experience to better your understanding of management principles and practices to improve your organisation’s performance.
This course is ideal for those looking to study management for the first time, professionals looking to take the next step in their career, and existing managers wishing to develop and achieve formal recognition of their skills and experience.