Few industries endure quite as well as real estate. Sure, there are ups and downs, such as the 2008 American real estate bubble. But the fact remains that people always want and need homes. Shows such as “Property Ladder” and “House Hunters” continue to be popular for a reason. Home ownership has long been correlated with socio-economic freedom and a sense of having “made it.”
When you strip all that TV buzz aside, however, real estate is a highly nuanced industry with real estate agents playing a key role in clients’ real estate experiences. Whether you’re buying or selling a home or commercial property, you need a certified real estate agent to help you.
So what goes into becoming an agent and what can you expect from a career in real estate?
In many jobs across the UK, licensure is essential to breaking into the industry. That is not the case for real estate, however. You can work as a real estate agent without the kind of credentialing that teaching or other professions require.
However, certain background qualifications can nevertheless be greatly beneficial in proving your legitimacy to hiring agents and would-be clients. Taking professional development courses, for example, can help you gain skills and legitimacy in certain subsets of the real estate industry. These can be on different types of commercial and domestic real estate.
Some universities also offer courses that tie into real estate work. Getting a BSc in Property Management can help you understand what goes into overseeing and selling properties. Other beneficial university degrees include surveying, business studies, estate management, and urban and land management.
To get into these courses, you should ideally have one to three A-levels. On the other hand, if you are not planning on attending university, an apprenticeship at a real estate agency can also help to start. In fact, this pathway can in certain circumstances be better in the short term because you not only gain experience, but you “earn while you learn” as well. That is the big selling point of apprenticeships across the UK, and it’s especially true in such a finance-dependent field as real estate. Moreover, while having a degree can be impressive and help you in the long term, an apprenticeship can help you start learning the basics of the real estate industry straightaway.
To get into these programmes, you will typically need up to five GCSEs in subjects including English and Maths.
Job Responsibilities and Skills
One of your important responsibilities as a real estate agent is gathering information on the properties that you are looking to rent or sell. This is vital for all parties involved. Your company needs that information in order to effectively sell the property, clients need it to make informed choices, and you need it in order to liaise between both parties. As a real estate agent, you are only as good as your word and insight; gathering information on properties is a valuable step in solidifying both.
This also means making sure that a property is legal and in good shape. It is your responsibility to ensure that there is nothing suspicious about the ownership of the property and that the foundations and other aspects of the property are in sound condition.
You will also want to make sure that these properties are photographed in a way that is flattering but accurate. As a seller, you want to be able to pitch properties effectively to would-be buyers. As an agent helping clients looking to buy, you want to make sure that they have a clear understanding of what they’re getting. Taking accurate photographs or hiring professional photographers to do this can be highly effective.
In addition, you’ll want to ask sellers about any special features that stand out about their properties. This is an opportunity for them to advertise their properties and for you to inform would-be buyers as to any features that might make the deal even better for them.
Having reviewed the information, features, and photos, you will want to estimate the overall value of the property. This is one area where having an educational background in pertinent areas such as property management and valuation can be helpful.
All of these jobs require excellent communication as well as the ability to instil trust in you and your insights.
The Power of Professional Development
A CPD course can help hone all of those skills and make them more apparent to hirers. They can also be helpful for specialising in domestic or commercial real estate as well as property rentals.
Domestic Real Estate
One of your most important duties as a real estate agent is to represent buyers when they try to buy a new home. Once again, any legal, financial, or property management and negotiation expertise you have will be essential here. You will be responsible for taking potential buyers around to several homes that match their criteria, explaining the pros and cons of each property. You will then work with them once they choose a property and wish to make a deal.
Clients are likely to ask for your advice. Searching for a home is a deeply personal process. Thus, your advice and approach to each candidate needs to be tailored to their specific wants, needs, and budget.
Working in domestic real estate also means knowing how to work with different buyers. A family is likely to have different housing needs than a pair of retirees or a newlywed couple. Part of any sales job is psychology and that’s true for domestic real estate jobs as well. Being able to read a client’s particular situation and respond with homes and features that best suit them is essential.
So is the golden rule of real estate: it’s all about location. You need to know the territory you oversee inside and out and be able to match clients to the best possible locations.
Commercial Real Estate
If you choose to work in commercial real estate, you will be tasked with helping businesses find offices that suit their budgetary, location, size, and cultural needs. That is a difficult balance to maintain. This is one reason why that information-gathering phase is so essential. Armed with that information, you will be in a much better position to inform your clients as to the particulars of a given property.
You may also be called upon to help close a sale. Compared to domestic real estate, the stakes in these transactions are often even higher with the property being far larger and more expensive. What’s more, with tenancy agreements, the contracts can become more complex as well.
It will be your job to help companies navigate the ins and outs of commercial real estate law and finance as well as sort out any tenancy or contractual issues that may arise.
Sometimes real estate agents help with renting property. Here again, an educational background in property management can be quite helpful. You will be able to make decisions on things such as legal and health inspections and drawing up tenancy agreements. You will also be responsible for drawing up rental contracts. In addition, you will be tasked with resolving disagreements between renters and tenants.
One of the most important things to note about the pay progression track for real estate agents is that much of their pay is via commission. This naturally puts a huge incentive on selling. What’s more, it also means that your pay can fluctuate wildly. It depends on how good you and how good of a month or quarter you are having. Even the best real estate agents go through slumps so you’ll want to prepare for those.
A starting salary for a real estate agent can range between £14,000 to £20,000. These are typically for entry-level and trainee posts. With experience, you can typically boost that income to somewhere between £25,000 to £60,000. Where you can really start to make money is at the management level where £100,000 is not uncommon.
As a general rule of thumb, the higher up the corporate ladder you reach, the more your salary will be guaranteed and the less it will be contingent upon commission. That said, salaries differ and this is something that you will likely negotiate with your company. Location also plays a factor. You can expect to make more in high-value property centres such as London.
Everyone needs a home and real estate agents help them fulfil that need. They put their insights into the property market and people skills to help people find the properties of their dreams. For those who dedicate themselves to the field, real estate can be a fulfilling career where you have a chance to help people find their homes for years or even decades to come.
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