We are regularly contacted by people who want to get into the estate agency industry, from a wide variety of backgrounds.
If you are looking to enter the estate agency industry in a sales or lettings role then these are some of the points you need to consider:-
The first, and probably the most important question you have to ask yourself is why you want to become an estate agent (and to say that you’re “looking for a job” or that you’ve “always fancied doing it” is not good enough). What is it that interests you about the industry and what talents do you have that might help you succeed in the industry?
The estate agency industry is a business, and any company willing to employ you is not doing it simply because they like you, or because you “like a challenge” or “like meeting people”. If they take you on and spend time and money training you it’s because they hope that you’ll ultimately be able to generate income for their business. Therefore you need to consider whether your expectations are in the same businesslike vein.
Do not decide to become an estate agent because you have seen a program on television and like the idea of “making over” a property. Being an estate agent is not anything like being an interior designer and no matter how much talent you have in that regard, it is of no relevance.
Similarly, do not try and get into the industry if you think it will be a short cut into you becoming a ‘property developer’, or such like. If you want to buy, sell or develop properties then do so, but do not confuse it with being an estate agent. Many estate agencies have been criticised because a selfish employee has tried to buy or sell properties secretly for their own personal gain. Companies have no interest in employing anybody who might harbour such a conflict of interests.
Your decision to become an estate agent must be considered as a long-term career move, like any other. It is fundamentally a sales industry and to succeed in it you must be prepared to work hard, listen to those with more experience, and develop your skills. Your success, and subsequent progress in this career is generally determined by your abilities and results, and so you must be prepared to meet targets, work under some pressure and maintain a certain levels of performance.
Do not consider becoming an estate agent unless you are prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up. Everybody joining the industry starts at the same place – regardless of their age, gender, where they live, what qualifications they have, or previous work experience. The speed at which you move up in the job is not based on how long you’ve been doing it, but how capable and successful you are. Whilst the job may be straightforward, each company will want to train you in the particular way they want things done and will not appreciate an “I know it all” attitude.
Do not consider looking to become an estate agent unless you are prepared to work on a basic + commission salary structure. The basic for Trainees is typically £10,000 - £12,000 with an on target earning (OTE) potential of around £20-25,000 in your first year. Salaries in the industry are not fixed and your future basic salary and earning potential are usually dictated not by how long you’ve been there but by how valuable you are to your employer.
Whilst, there are companies who will offer a company car to a new trainee with no experience, the vast majority of our clients will only offer a car allowance at best, to being with. In this respect, there is no point in considering getting into the industry unless you have a full UK driving license and use of your own car. There are times during the day when you may need to get to a property or take somebody in the office to view a property, and you will need access to your own car (not scooter, pushbike, etc) to fulfil your role.
You must be prepared to work until 7pm or even 8pm some nights. The job requires you to meet and show properties to customers and if they cannot make it until that sort of time, then you’ll be expected to accommodate them. Unfortunately, there is no time off in lieu or overtime payments!
Similarly, do not consider applying for any position if you have a regular Saturday commitment such as watching or playing football. You will be expected to work most Saturdays to begin with, and possibly some Sundays.
The majority of business of an estate agent is done on the telephone so unless you can communicate reasonably clearly and articulately in this medium, and are comfortable speaking on the telephone there is little point in applying for jobs.
You must have a reasonable ability to use a computer. These days, most of the information that an agent sends, receives or views is done so using a PC. Whilst an individual company will train you on any particular software that they use, they will expect you to be familiar with the general use of the PC and possibly some of the more common software such as Microsoft Word and Outlook.
Do not start applying for any positions unless you have a business suit/outfit in which to attend interviews. No matter how cool they might look, leather jackets, etc just don’t quite do it in a business interview!