By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) (14 Jul 15)
The sale of a house is largely thought to be one of the most stressful undertakings during a person's life. A good estate agent can make all the difference to how smoothly a sale goes, as well as negotiating an excellent price for the seller or buyer.
Working as an estate agent be an incredibly varied job, with lots of travelling during the day as well as a proportion of office-based work. The working environment is often busy and can at times be stressful. However, the diversity of skills associated with working as estate agent could be suited to many people looking for a job that requires them to tackle each day on the hoof.
Being an estate agent employs many different skills, including sales valuations and negotiations skills, organisation and administration skills, as well as proficiency in marketing and promotional activities.
You don't necessarily need a degree to start work as an estate agent. A confident, outgoing personality as well as enthusiasm, drive and a head for numbers might be the very qualities that could land you the job. However, as with many positions, some relevant experience or an appropriate degree can put you that bit ahead of other candidates for the same role.
A Qualification In Business Or Management Studies would be beneficial, and for the more top-end agencies or senior positions qualifications in surveying, urban studies, land studies and land management (particularly for rural estate and land management agencies), structural and civil engineering or estate management could lead to better paying jobs with more responsibility.
You should also take into consideration that estate agents are increasingly using the internet as sales platform. Being more than competent in using CMS (content management systems), SMS updates, virtual tours and digital photography will be regarded as very attractive attributes in terms of employability. Although you may receive training in this area on the job, having the IT skills beforehand will definitely be of great benefit.
Another consideration you should make if thinking about changing career to become an estate agent is the legislation that is involved in the job. There have been increases in the amounts of regulation and legislation involved in the sale of a home, and as an estate agent you
will also be required to liaise with other professionals such as solicitors and surveyors, and acquire an understanding of certain legal procedures and aspects of the law.
In Scotland a solicitor will manage the majority of the sale, however, in England and Wales, unless the estate agent is a qualified chartered surveyor, there will be a lot of communication with other parties, so your Organisational And Communication Skills must be excellent.
There are many opportunities to develop your personal skills and gain extra qualifications while working as an estate agent. Larger firms and those that deal with land management and commercial properties will be particularly keen for their employees to gain qualifications accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
A more senior position will also mean supervising other agency employees, and particularly with the larger city-based agencies, promotion will most likely result in being responsible for an increasingly important and large portfolio of clients.
As well as the opportunity to gain promotion, many agencies will employ a commission or bonus payment scheme. Estate agencies have gained a reputation of being somewhat sales-driven and competitive environments. However, while there are sales targets, many agencies belie their reputation and in terms of a work environment, can be more relaxed than expected.
There are many routes into estate agency work – graduate schemes are usually set aside for the larger firms. Depending on the vacant position, smaller residential estate agencies tend to advertise locally for candidates with the relevant experience or qualifications. If you are really keen to change career and become an estate agent, it might be worth approaching an estate agency directly and making enquiries. Alternatively, signing up with a recruitment agency is always an option, as some estate agencies do use recruitment agents to source candidates.
Although estate agents have in previous years been the butt of many a joke, it seems that the profession is shaking off this perception. A career as an estate agency sales negotiator is gaining recognition and respect, and the job carries with it the potential scope for development and mobility within a relatively stable industry.
Identifying Your Skills
Many skills you already have can be useful when changing careers. For help and guidance, read our article How To Identify Your Transferable Job Skills .