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If you’ve ever bought or rented a property, then it’s likely that you will have first-hand experience working with an estate agent. Estate agents act as negotiators between property sellers and buyers, as well as between renters and landlords. If you have a passion for property and enjoy exploring new buildings of all kinds, then the role of an estate agent could be perfect for you.
Estate agency is big business. The UK Estate Agent industry is estimated to be worth approximately £9.1 billion, and the sector is only forecast to keep growing, with a predicted value of reaching £11.2 billion by the end of 2026. There are currently 19,446 Estate Agents businesses registered in the UK, and approximately 51,400 individual estate agents working within those businesses, making this a large and lucrative sector. Are you thinking of joining it? From what estate agents do to the average estate agent salary, here’s everything you need to know about how to become an estate agent:
What is an Estate Agent?
An estate agent is an individual who arranges the buying and renting of properties, effectively acting as the middleman between individuals looking for a new home, and those hoping to sell their home. Estate agents also deal with commercial premises and other buildings. In real terms, working as an estate agent is a sales job, but as the value of the items you are selling is so high, you will need a high degree of commitment and drive to succeed in this industry.
Most estate agents will work for large estate agencies, and you will be based in an estate agency office. Occasionally you would work from a client’s premises or even a client’s home. Because so much of your role will involve being out of the office, travelling between properties and appointments, you will need to hold a full driving licence in order to secure a role as an estate agent.
Estate agents tend to work long and irregular hours. Your typical day will start in the office between 8:30 am and 9 am, dealing with any paperwork, chasing client leads via phone and email, and meeting with your team. You could then show properties until around 6-7 pm, although this could be later depending on the needs of your clients. Evening and weekend work will often be required, although estate agents rarely work on Sundays. As an estate agent, you should be prepared to make yourself available to the public outside normal working hours, particularly if you wish to attract big-budget clients who are likely to have long working hours of their own.
Personal Qualities of an Estate Agent
Estate agents are effective and persuasive communicators who are passionate about what they do. Because the role involves constant communication with a huge number of different people, you will thrive in social situations. Estate agents tend to be goal-oriented, self-motivated, and keen to succeed. You will also need to possess the following qualities in order to succeed as an estate agent:
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills. You will be interacting with people from all walks of life on a daily basis, and your role will involve making your clients feel at ease and building a rapport with them. Many property owners will choose their estate agent based solely on the relationship that they have with them
- A friendly and welcoming demeanour. You should be able to build a rapport with new people quickly and earn their trust
- Strong organisation skills. Being an estate agent involves a huge amount of paperwork and files for each of your properties and clients
- High-level sales skills. You must be able to sell both products and services
- A genuine interest in buildings and architecture. This will help you to assess the properties that you are listing and sell them to potential buyers
- Persistence and determination. You must be driven to achieve a sale or let and prepared to work tirelessly to achieve results. Some properties will sell themselves, whilst others will need the work of a talented estate agent to encourage buyers to see a property’s potential
- The ability to remain calm in stressful situations. It is often said that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, so when things go wrong, as an estate agent, you may bear the brunt of your client’s frustrations
- The ability to listen to, and accept, criticism without taking it personally
- An adaptable nature that will allow you to deal with changing situations, in a fast-paced environment, with ease
- Keen attention to detail. From drawing up contracts to noticing details about the homes you are listing, your attention to detail will be vital
- High levels of computer literacy. You will need to use a computer, handheld tablet, and all the main software packages with competence
What an Estate Agent Does
If you want to work in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment, then pursuing a career as an estate agent could be the right path for you. No two working days will ever be exactly the same, and the types of people and properties that you will work with will be unpredictable. But there are some standard tasks that you can expect to complete on a daily basis. Here is a breakdown of what an estate agent does:
- Visit properties to assess them and give accurate valuations based on your industry knowledge and experience
- Create a comprehensive database of leads: people looking to rent or buy properties in your area. Maintain this database and contact these leads as soon as a suitable property becomes available
- Arrange viewing and appointments, showing your clients around properties at a time that best suits them
- Gathering feedback from viewings and sharing this feedback with the current homeowner or landlord
- Conducting negotiations between buyers and sellers, or renters and property owners. These negotiations will usually take place over the telephone. This will involve negotiating a price that suits both the buyer and seller to close the deal
- Work closely with mortgaging and conveyancing companies. Your role may also involve. generating sales leads for these companies, with a commission paid for each lead generated
- Attend meetings with your team, or wider external meetings with solicitors, financial advisers, and surveyors
- Manage and attend auction sales
- Write advertisements for the properties that you are marketing, and regularly update your website and other media outlets to promote your properties as widely as possible
- Work hard to meet your monthly sales targets, which may often involve working long and unsociable hours to meet the needs of your clients and to fit around their schedules
- Holding the keys for a huge number of properties and handing over the keys when a property purchase is completed
- Keep up to date with the latest property trends, maintaining your position as an expert in your field
- Undertake regular training and continued professional development, to ensure that your skills and qualifications are always as up to date as possible
- Update computer records so that property details and client databases are always up to date
How Much Does an Estate Agent Earn?
Your earning potential as an estate agent will depend on how successful you are in the field, with basic salaries varying quite dramatically in the industry. The current average salary for an estate agent in the UK is £24,064. The biggest factors in determining what your basic salary will be are how much experience you have, the company you work for, and your location.
As well as having a basic monthly salary or retainer, estate agents rely heavily on the amount of commission that they receive. Commissions are typically a percentage of the total amount you sell a property for or a percentage of the amount your company makes after any fees are deducted from the total property sales amount. Your line manager will assign you a monthly target for the number of sales that you will be expected to achieve. Another source of income for estate agents is bonuses, which you will achieve when you hit or exceed the sales targets set by your employer for a month, quarter or year. Both commissions and bonuses can increase your annual income considerably.
Career progression in an estate agency is almost entirely performance-based. If you are successful in your role, then you may progress to become a Negotiator or Senior Negotiator: these positions will give you access to more lucrative properties and therefore higher salaries. Other promotions you could pursue include becoming a Branch Manager: as Branch Manager, you will earn a percentage of the turnover of the branch and very often the profits as well. Depending on the size of the company and the location, this could leave you with an annual salary of between £40,000 and £100,000.
Qualifications Needed for an Estate Agent
It is not a formal requirement that you have a university degree to become an estate agent, but you may find that it is beneficial, and some estate agencies may ask that you are educated to a degree level as part of their entry requirements. If estate agency is your chosen career path before you attend university, then some helpful and relevant subjects include:
- Business studies
- Civil and structural engineering
- Estate management
- Property development or management
- Urban and land studies
You could also consider taking a more hands-on approach and securing an estate agency apprenticeship to learn the skills you’ll need to be a successful estate agent on the job. You’ll need some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship as a junior estate agent. You may even be able to enter an estate agent directly from school or college, entering as a trainee estate agent. You could also start as an administrator in an estate agent or lettings company and work your way up, learning essential skills that are part of your role, and earning an income at the same time.
Whilst you do not need formal qualifications to work as an estate agent, there are some professional qualifications that would be incredibly beneficial if you wish to work in this role. Courses in business administration, customer service, and people management would all give you a professional advantage.
In many other countries, real estate agents are licensed and highly qualified professionals. You must have secured certain certifications, passed specific courses, or have reached a high educational level to become an estate agent. This is not the case in the UK.
Although there are no formal qualifications required to operate as an estate agent, on-the-job training and continued professional development are essential to ensuring that you maintain a competitive edge. The overall aim of any continuing professional development (CPD) programme is to ensure that experienced estate agents can consistently maintain their knowledge, practical competencies and skills. This will be personal to each estate agent.
If you feel that your computer skills are slower than those of your colleagues, for example, you may wish to enrol in a computer literacy course. If you feel ready to take the next step and become a branch manager, then undertaking a people management course would be a critical way of demonstrating this. By continually improving your skillset and adding new qualifications to your CV, you are clearly demonstrating your commitment to working within the estate agency sector and enhancing your career.
Propertymark is the professional body for the property sector in the UK, and membership will not only demonstrate your commitment to building a career in the sector it will also help you to enhance your estate agency skills. Propertymark membership equips you to win business, tackle changes in compliance and grow your professional knowledge. Propertymark is also responsible for maintaining professional standards across the estate agency industry and offers a searchable database that homeowners and house hunters can use to find a registered and reputable estate agent in their area. That means that membership to Propertymark could actually help you to attract new clients and leads.
Other benefits of joining a professional body such as Propertymark include access to learning and continued professional development opportunities and exclusive access to a knowledge hub which contains a large number of resources designed to make your work life easier. You will also receive comprehensive best practice guides which you can refer back to ensure that you are always compliant with complicated property legislation and free legal advice, via a helpline. This access to legally trained specialists will support you with any day-to-day legal questions you might have along with general business law and new legislation. Compliance is essential for estate agents and joining a professional body such as Propertymark will help to make this compliance as straightforward as possible for you.