What is it?
An estate agent is actually a wide-ranging title applied to a number of specialisms. Some estate agents specialise in the residential market, but even then, individual homes vary from studio apartments to mansions with acres of land. Some agents specialise in dealing with commercial properties such as office blocks, factories, shops and licensed premises.
Others deal specifically with lettings and property management, which involves letting property and dealing with all aspects of the let - which includes in many cases the responsibility for the property on behalf of the property owner. In addition, some estate agents extend their service by offering the specialised knowledge and skills needed to carry out property auctions.
Residential Estate Agency
Estate agency is an almost unique form of selling. The estate agent is not selling something which belongs to them, but represents their client - the property owner. Agents act as a representative or intermediary between the owner and a possible buyer, using a mixture of skills to persuade customers to sell and buy.
One of the essential skills of an estate agent is good communication. Estate agency is a 'people' business - agents have to communicate with many different people - potential buyers and sellers, conveyancers and solicitors for example - and they have to be able to communicate effectively. A house sale and purchase is usually the largest single purchase that anyone undertakes and is consequently high on the list of the recognised 'stressors' in everyday life. Good communication on the part of the agent can reduce the stress enormously, can make a sale go through more quickly and efficiently and will ensure that customers come back to the agency with more business. This communication might be face-to-face, either in the office or in people's homes - or it might be by telephone or by letter.
So, the main qualities needed in estate agency are good communication and interpersonal skills; and the ability to persevere when things are moving slowly or the market is not particularly favourable.
Owning an estate agency can be challenging and rewarding, but there are also times when you'll find it frustrating even infuriating, but as this is a people business you'll have to keep your fury to yourself. Long protracted delays can ensue just after you have done the bulk of your work and the process of legally transferring land and/or property starts. Sometimes cancellations can occur at a very late stage, about which little can be done, and so those to whom a career in 'selling' appeals may need to think twice about going into estate agency, as the final results can take some time to achieve
Qualifications and training
Whilst academic qualifications are always helpful and applicable, personal qualities and abilities are the most important aspect. You also need to be literate and numerate. Becoming increasingly significant is the number of professional estate agents who have gained qualifications in their field. The increasing legislation means that agents require a good knowledge of the relevant law.