Continuing our regular feature focussing on some of the most popular small businesses, we take a closer look at estate agents.
What do estate agents do?
When a person is looking to buy or sell a property, typically they would approach an estate agency and advertise their property or look at available ones. Estate agent are the people you deal with and it is their jobs to go through the intricacies of the buying and selling, making sure the sale goes through.
If you are selling your home, then the estate agent will gather information and pictures of your property that will draw in potential buyers. This includes giving a valuation of what the property should be advertised at and marketing available properties for sale.
It is also an estate agent’s responsibility to liaise with any interested parties, such as:
• mortgage brokers
• other estate agents – especially if there is a chain
Conversely, if you’re looking to buy a property, then an estate agent will usually be advertising properties for sale and will be your go-to person. They will show you around the properties available, liaise with the vendors over offers and dispense basic advice on how to secure finance etc.
Some estate agents focus on renting out properties rather than selling them. Their job can then be more of a housing officer at times, especially if the tenancy concerned is managed by the agency.
Much of this role involves marketing properties and securing tenants, carrying out all the relevant referencing checks and making sure the agreements are signed.
Another breed of estate agents is those that focus on commercial property, such as offices, retail spaces and industrial units. These work in the same way as those focusing on residential sales and lettings, but will require different expertise related to business buyers or lessors.
There are no formal qualification requirements if you want to become an estate agent, but it is easy to start as an agency administrator and work your way up.
Having a good knowledge of the local property market is essential, but there are some skills that could be transferred from other careers. If you’re able to demonstrate these to a potential employer then you may be fortunate to find yourself in gainfully employed.
Skills you’ll need to be an estate agent:
• negotiation and sales ability
• organisational skills
• strong customer service skills
• good grasp of maths
While house prices continue to grow, the main concern for estate agents is the low supply of properties to sell.
The industry is also facing Brexit uncertainty, an ever-changing political landscape and a volatile economy; all of which makes sellers nervous and buyers beware. This has led to a reduction in the number of homes coming to market.
Keeping up to date with trends in the relevant property market can be tricky, especially when the economy changes so rapidly and consumer confidence peaks and troughs. But having this knowledge is an essential component to success in the role of an estate agent, and maintaining up-to-the-minute comprehension is paramount.
Another personal challenge is overcoming the perception of estate agents. The job is one of the most hated professions – commonly in the top three with parking warden and bouncer. This can make it difficult to build trust with customers, but can also impact on your levels of job satisfaction.
Case study: How to be successful as an estate agent
Preston Baker in Oakwood, Leeds, is the number estate agent branch for sales and lettings in the country, according to the Best Estate Agent Guide.
Although it is part of a chain, this individual branch has been highlighted for going that bit further to get the sale and maintain a quality service.
So how do they do it? According to Preston Baker, it’s because they “believe in doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well”.
Property Launch – the firm’s in-house approach to sales – has enabled the agency to sell properties at around £4,500 more than vendors who opt for traditional sales routes. Homes are also selling 82 days quicker than average with the firm’s approach.
So, what is it? Preston Baker is shirking traditional selling techniques, instead opting for innovative marketing practices that really focus on the launch of a property; building interest and excitement before the property is up for sale, and culminating in a two-hour open house.
This gets all the viewings over in a single day and the figures show it helps properties to sell quicker, for a higher value.
However, it is also the company’s communication strategy that has gained it the esteemed accolade.
According to a representative for the branch, in the last year the firm has conducted 2,280 telephone surveys of customers who are at various points of moving home.
This helps it to maintain high levels of customer care and creates the outwardly perception that the firm has a customer-led culture.