Agency is an essential function of the property industry and involves the buying/renting and selling/leasing of property. Estate agents can specialise within a particular property market, such as commercial or residential real estate.
The job of an estate agent contains elements of marketing, sales and administration. Estate agents are typically employed by property firms or by local estate agencies, either smaller independent agencies or a local branch of a larger firm.
Responsibilities of an estate agent include:
- Liaising with clients to market properties in the most appropriate manner to maximise the selling value
- Handling enquiries about properties from potential buyers
- Valuing properties
- Producing reports, brochures, promotional information and other written material
- Travelling to properties and conducting viewings
- Negotiating the sale and letting of properties
- Administering and securing the disposal and acquisition of property and ensuring that it is completed legally
Estate agents can also be chartered surveyors and, as such, will have to follow the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) ethics and professional standards requirements, but they will also be qualified to perform full surveys and valuations of properties. A commercial/residential/rural surveyor can specialise in agency and their role will incorporate many of the responsibilities of an estate agent. Not all surveyors are estate agents, however, as there are many other areas in which property surveyors can work.
Estate agents’ working days are typically around to 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, but, depending on the employer, you may be required to work weekends. Typically estate agents receive commission based on a percentage of each sale they make on top of their salary.
There are no formal entry requirements for an estate agent, although some experience of customer service work and an interest in the local property market may be advantageous. Both school leavers and graduates can apply for trainee estate agent/junior estate agent/sales negotiator roles at local estate agencies or branches of larger agencies. Although a degree is not a necessity, a BSc in a relevant subject such as building surveying, real estate or planning and property development may give you an advantage when applying.
It is possible to gain a number of professional qualifications through Propertymark Qualifications, a sister company of the estate agency professional body NAEA Propertymark (previously known as the National Association of Estate Agents). Your employer may expect you to complete these as part of your employment. Commercial, residential or rural surveyors will be expected to progress towards becoming chartered surveyors alongside their work. The RICS’ chartership qualification process is called the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). This is not a requirement for estate agents.
- Negotiation and selling skills
- Ambition, drive and charisma
- Good communication skills and the ability to maintain a positive relationship with clients and colleagues
- Strong organisation skills, as you may be dealing with more than one property at a time
- Willingness to take on responsibility, as estate agents will likely be afforded a great deal of responsibility early on
- Willingness to travel and spend time out of the office; a full driving licence is typically required
- Understanding of, and interest in, the local property market and the process of buying and selling property