Business & Management
Career insights: Become an Estate Agent
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With the value of the UK’s housing market soaring to hit £9.5 trillion in 2021[i], it's hardly surprising that more people are taking an interest in becoming an estate agent. It’s a career that can be very rewarding if you are a natural problem solver who has an interest in helping people. Your day-to-day will stay varied as you assist sellers with putting their properties in front of the right people and help buyers to find the perfect home, with a few frantic ‘lost key’ calls in-between.
If this sounds like something you might be interested in pursuing as a career, stick with us as we explain how to become an estate agent.
What does an estate agent do?
Estate agents play a key role in the buying, selling, and letting of houses. In brief, their responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Valuate properties
- Market properties
- Handle admin and paperwork
- Negotiate with sellers and buyers
- Offer advice to sellers and buyers
- Schedule and manage house viewings
- Suggest and set prices for properties
- Liaise with solicitors and surveyors
When someone sells a house, they might register with multiple estate agents. When a sale completes, the estate agent who sealed the deal will get a percentage of the money from the sale of the house.
Estate agent salary
Average wages start at £19,000 per annum, rising to £40,000 per annum[ii] for experienced estate agents.
Estate agents’ wages are often based on commissions earned through house sales, known as On-Target Earnings (OTE). For example, if you are a trainee and your basic pay (the minimum that you will take home) is £12k a year, you might expect to earn a total of £25k OTE depending on how many sales you make.
The amount of commission earnt per sale depends on how much the house sells for, and your agency's agreement with the seller. If your agency receives a 2% commission overall, they will get £6k on a house that sells for £300k. If you were in charge of the sale, you might get a personal commission of 5% from this amount, which would mean £300 is added to your payslip.
As with any career, salary also depends on experience and location. For example, working at a managerial level for a London-based agency that deals with premium house sales could land you a salary of £100k (including bonuses) if you have a wealth of experience behind you.
How to become an estate agent
If you want to become an estate agent, you need to be prepared to put in the work to get there. It certainly isn’t easy, but it is one career that has plenty of paths to access it.
Local estate agents might offer apprenticeships so that you can learn on the job. Apprenticeships are designed to be accessible to school leavers, so generally all you will need is a decent set of GCSE grades. GCSE Maths and English are usually a requirement.
Despite popular beliefs, you don’t have to go to university to become an estate agent. However, holding a degree or university level qualification definitely gives you an advantage over other applicants. Degrees that lend themselves to estate agency include:
- Business Studies
- Estate Management
- Property Development/Management
- Civil/Structural Engineering
Learning on the job
It some cases, you might be able to apply directly for a junior position at an estate agent’s office. You will start with smaller responsibilities as you learn what the role is all about and rise through the ranks as you gain more experience. Having experience in customer-facing roles will help you here.
If traditional education isn’t for you, and you aren’t confident that you have the skills to apply directly for a job or apprenticeship, there are plenty of ways you can gain relevant experience. Taking an online business course will give you a great foundation for the core skills needed.
You can also get your foot in the door by taking a course through the INEA (Independent Network of Estate Agents) or the NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents). They offer courses specific to a career in estate agency – such as property lettings and sales. Learn more at Propertymark.
Submit job applications
Once you are qualified or have completed your training, it’s time to apply for jobs. Read as many job descriptions as you can to get a feeling for what estate agents in your area are looking for and be confident in your abilities! You need to make sure you stand out so that you can make it to the interview stage and charm your potential employers with that classic estate agent charm and charisma.Read More: The Ultimate Job Interview Guide
Estate agent skills
As with any job, you will be most suited to being an estate agent if you can display a specific set of skills. Now you know how to become an estate agent, you need to consider if you have the right skill for the job, or if you are willing to learn the required skills.
An estate agent has to be good at selling without putting pressure on any of the parties involved, be excellent at communicating and have an impeccable eye for detail. You won’t get anywhere in the estate agents’ game if you don’t enjoy speaking to people and are unable to stay organised.
These are some of the skills you will need:
this is one career where bad communication can cause huge issues. You need to be in frequent contact with your clients and must be able to explain concepts (such as mortgage terms) in an accessible way. You can’t let communication break down and must be equally on the ball with keeping your team updated as and when needed.
to be an effective estate agent, you need to be extremely organised. One ‘missing file’ can cause severe delays in the processing of a sale. You will be handling all the admin on behalf of your clients and should be able to pull up any requested information or files quickly.
- Interpersonal skills
you must be able and willing to build rapport with sellers and buyers. You are helping them to process and make some of the most important (and expensive) decisions of their lives, so they need to be able to trust you completely and should be comfortable asking you questions at all stages.
negotiating plays a massive part in selling houses. You will need to negotiate for your clients and know how to be the right amount of persuasive to potential buyers without coming across as aggressive and putting them off. If you can’t negotiate effectively, you’re unlikely to make any impressive deals.
How to become an estate agent with no experience
Despite what you might think, you can become an excellent estate agent with no experience.
Look at your CV and see which skills you have that could be applied to a career in estate agency. Review them against job postings online – do you have the skills they are looking for? You might be able to apply for a junior role directly. Try contacting local estate agents who are advertising jobs and see if they are open to hiring someone who has no direct experience but possesses many relevant skills.
If you aren’t confident with your experience, taking a course is one way to get into the industry. Many courses can be taken online in your own time, so that you can fit them in alongside your existing job or other responsibilities.