Estate Agency is an ancient profession. For as long as people have owned or rented property, there has been a role for someone to support the buyers and the sellers. The process of buying or selling a property can be both fraught and complex. Although it’s always been possible to bypass the skills of an estate agent, it’s rarely advisable. Those brave souls who attempt that route very often come unstuck and finish up using an estate agent anyway – causing themselves unnecessary delays and expense. In this article, we’re going to look at how to become an estate agent - specifically how to set up a residential estate agency – supporting clients who want to sell or let residential property.
Estate agents sell or let properties on behalf of their clients. Many provide both services. Estate agents make money through fees and commission. It might sound like easy money. But that’s far from the truth. The work can be hard and sometimes frustrating. Those who make a success of setting up as an estate agent do so through diligence and commitment. The hard work does bring its rewards. You get to be your own boss and, with success comes growth, with eventually the chance of developing a business that’s a valuable asset.
Over the years, often through their own making, the estate agency profession has developed a reputation for unscrupulous behaviour. This has been a case of a few bad apples letting personal greed overcome integrity. However, don’t let this dishonest image put you off. Treat it as an opportunity. When you set up as an estate agent, encompassing values of honesty and integrity will stand you in good stead. By standing out in contrast to your less scrupulous competitors, you will enhance your own reputation as well as the reputation of the sector as a whole.
Employed estate agents might earn as much as £35,000 per annum, with the average being around £27,000. Depending on the size of the firm, there are managerial roles, which can earn at least double this amount.
Of course, if you set up your own estate agency business, how much you earn depends entirely on the scale and profitability of the business. You might remain as a one-person band. Or, you could grow to become a national chain.
Becoming an estate agent in the United Kingdom is straightforward. Unlike many countries, you don’t need to be from any particular educational background or have a licence to become an estate agent. But – there are steps you can take to give yourself a better chance of success.
Give yourself a head start by getting a degree in estate and property management. Although you don’t have to have a degree to become an estate agent, attending university will give you the necessary kudos to impress future clients. Other types of degrees can help. Examples include business administration, planning, finance, or the law.
Take a certificate course program to get specialised training in the estate agency field. These courses sometimes only take a few months. You can choose to specialise in selling or letting. You can follow these courses through organisations such as Propertymark, the INEA (Independent Network of Estate Agents) or NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents).
Certificate programs cover :
- How to work with clients
- The role of an estate agent
- Property valuations
- Legal requirements and expectations of agents
What experience do you need to set up as an estate agent? Strictly speaking, lack of experience needn’t be a barrier to starting your own estate agency. However, the more experience you have, the more likely you are to make a success of your venture. The most common route is simply by working for a few years with an established estate agent. Make sure you gain experience in a variety of roles within the firm. Find out what you can about marketing and administration. Don’t forget either to lean on the experience of your senior colleagues.
If you’re to be successful as an estate agent, then certain skills and attributes are vital. Clearly, you need to work hard (often working anti-social hours – weekends too). You need to be dedicated to supporting your clients. Integrity is a must. In a field with opportunities and a reputation for disreputable behaviour, you need to earn a reputation for 100% honesty and a total commitment to your client’s cause.
You’ll need to be good at building personal relations and using tact, patience and perseverance. The house selling process can be stressful for clients. You need to have the emotional intelligence to appreciate how they’re feeling when things aren’t going smoothly. Sometimes deals fall through. You need to be able to support your clients through difficult times.
You also have to develop communication skills. These include understanding nonverbal communication – being aware of clues, like nodding, smiling, facial expressions and posture. You need to be someone who enjoys working face-to-face with a variety of personalities. You must be a good and active listener and able to respond promptly and efficiently to your clients’ calls and emails.
To succeed in setting up an estate agency, you’ll also need fundamental business skills. A good accountant will give you support, but you’ll need to develop your own business acumen. You’ll have to learn how to negotiate and also how to develop a business plan and a marketing strategy. Being a good networker will help too – making the right connections in related sectors, such as finance, mortgages, insurance, and the law, will all help.
A key question when you set up as an estate agent will be – ‘What kind of an estate agent will I be?’. You need to decide if you’ll be primarily a ‘bricks and mortar’ estate agent operating from High Street premises. Or would you prefer to be an online estate agent – operating purely via the internet? Perhaps you’ll opt for the hybrid approach, a combination of the two.
When you start up as an estate agent, you need marketing skills. You need to develop an understanding of the role played by print advertising, as well as online estate agency portals. You also need an awareness of the role of social media platforms – how and when to make the most of the opportunities they provide. Platforms like Facebook play a valuable part in generating homeowner leads for estate agents.
Don’t forget also the importance of branding. You need to think of a name for your estate agency, an image and a logo. You’ll need a website, too – one that’s intuitive for visitors to use. Your website must be designed to optimise well for SEO, giving it the best possible chance of achieving a high position in search engines.
There are numerous different services you can offer. They might earn you extra income. Others might serve to attract new business by adding value to your main estate agency service.
These could include:
- Energy performance certificates
- Financial services such as mortgage arrangement and insurance sales
- Residential, commercial and holiday lettings and property management
- Relocation services
Make sure you decide early on about the services that you plan to offer. For many of them, such as surveying, you or the surveyors you employ must be qualified members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Conveyancing can only be undertaken by a licensed conveyancer or solicitor.
Anyone offering financial services must be authorised to do so by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Setting up your own estate agency will no doubt be an exciting venture, but it won't be a small undertaking. There’s much to consider. The opportunities are vast, but the pitfalls are ever-present too. Think carefully about all the points we’ve covered. With passion, drive, integrity, and business intelligence, there will be a place for you in this richly rewarding sector.
We at Agent Extra understand the difficulties involved when beginning your own Agency and finding those clients in such a competitive industry. We ourselves use to be estate agents. Check out our solution for start-up agencies to see how our telemarketing and digital campaigns can help you establish instant market share in your area.