A large part of the work involves residential sales, but in some agencies you could also deal with commercial property, lettings, property management and auctions
Estate agents market and sell property for clients. As an estate agent, you would negotiate between buyers and sellers. You would use your knowledge of the local property market to get the best price for the seller. If you are interested in the property market and you enjoy meeting different people, this job could be perfect for you.
To be an estate agent, you should have good organisational and time-keeping skills. You should also be trustworthy.
Employers are usually more interested in your skills and experience than your formal qualifications.
Your work would include:
- viewing properties, and taking photos and measurements
- advising clients about the buying and selling process
- valuing properties
- marketing and advertising properties for sale
- showing potential buyers around properties
- negotiating a price that is acceptable to the buyer and the seller
- arranging conveyancing (legal sale and purchase documents)
- managing rented properties and collecting rent.
A large part of the work involves residential sales, but in some agencies you could also deal with commercial property, lettings, property management and auctions.
In a full-time job you would normally work around 35 to 40 hours a week between Monday and Saturday. Part-time work is often available.
You would be based at an office or high street agency but would spend a lot of your time visiting properties to show people around and make valuations.
You would usually earn a basic salary plus extra commission based on a percentage of your sales.
Starting salaries for trainees can be around £12,000 to £16,000 a year basic, plus commission.
With experience and management duties, this can rise to between £20,000 and £35,000 a year basic salary, plus commission.
Employers are usually more interested in your skills and experience than your formal qualifications. You should have good people skills and sales skills, and it will help you if you have previous experience of customer service work.
You may be able to start as an administrator in an estate agency and work your way up as your experience grows. Some estate agents are qualified building surveyors, although this is not essential.
You may also be able to start in this job through a property services Apprenticeship. You will need to check which schemes are available in your area. For more information, see the Apprenticeships website.
You may a driving licence for some jobs.
Training and development
You would normally start as a trainee sales negotiator and learn on the job from experienced staff. You may also have the chance to gain industry-recognised qualifications such as National Federation of Property Professionals (NFOPP) Level 3 Technical Awards for:
- Sale of Residential Property
- Residential Letting and Property Management
- Commercial Property Agency
- Real Property Auctioneers.
You could study for these qualifications as a new or experienced estate agent.
With more experience, you could progress to NFOPP Level 4 Certificates in:
- Residential Estate Agency
- Residential Letting and Management
- Commercial Property Agency.
These include units on the legal side of property sales and lettings, market appraisal and valuations, and building design and defects. You can study for the NFOPP qualifications by distance learning, or part-time at some local colleges. See the NFOPP website for more details.
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) also offers a range of short courses for professional development. See their website for details.
You could choose to take further training to qualify as an energy assessor, Green Deal adviser or surveyor. For more information, see the Asset Skills website and the related careers profiles on this page.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be an estate agent, you should have:
- excellent spoken and written communication skills
- strong negotiation and sales skills
- the ability to deal with people from all backgrounds
- good business sense
- an interest in property and the housing market
- good organisational and time-keeping skills
- a friendly, trustworthy and professional attitude
- computer skills
- the ability to work under pressure and meet sales targets.
Job prospects for estate agents will depend on the state of the property market, which can vary from region to region.
With experience and a good track record of sales, you could be promoted from sales negotiator to senior negotiator and manager. The larger chains of estate agents may offer more opportunities for promotion.
You could also become self-employed as a partner in a firm, or set up your own agency.