Homes Under the Hammer, Location, Location, Location, even Grand Designs – TV shows like these have pushed the estate agent to the forefront of British consciousness like never before. Members of this profession are seen weekly; guiding buyers through the process, advising landlords on rental potential and helping vendors make their properties more ‘sellable’. It’s no wonder so many of us fancy it as a job.
Of course, that’s not all that an estate agent does; the job is incredibly varied and encompasses many different tasks. The first step into the industry would most likely be as a trainee estate agent, where you would gain valuable insight from more experienced colleagues. That’s not to say you wouldn’t have duties of your own, though, far from. Before you buy that suit and clipboard though, here’s what a trainee estate agent does:
Firstly, the (not really that) boring stuff
Let’s get it over and done with up front: Yes, you will be required to perform a few mundane tasks, but that’s the case with any job. At least in this profession, the boring stuff isn’t really that bad. It might include dropping leaflets through letterboxes in all weather (it’s always nice to get some fresh air, right?) or being responsible for changing the agency’s window displays – replacing sold /sold subject-to-contract properties with ones that are new to the market. This will help you stay informed of what’s selling and what isn’t, allowing you to discern any useful patterns. It’s not that bad at all, really.
A big part of the role revolves around marketing and promoting the properties that are for sale or to let. For this, you’ll need to liaise with the property owners to gather as much information as possible on its distinctive features. Hence you’ll be out and about (possibly in one of those nice, branded estate agent cars) visiting the owners to talk about each property. You’ll also need to either take or arrange to have professional photographs taken of the flat / house / mansion / caravan, etc. These details will form your eye-catching advertisement and help you promote the property not only on behalf of your own agency, but also on the major property portals, such as On The Market.
Customer facing and advisory
The trainee estate agent role is a customer facing role in which you will speak to all the parties that are all involved in the buying and selling process. That’s why it’s essential that you have good communication skills, are approachable and confident. Contact usually starts with a phone call, during which you’ll take applicants’ details for registration. Some may pop in and do this in person, of course. You’ll provide assistance and accompany buyers on viewings to help them narrow down their options and settle on a property to purchase. From that point onwards, you’ll be on hand for advice, so it’s important that you are familiar with the property and location yourself. This is where the fun really starts!
Sales and negotiations
One of the most interesting and gratifying elements of the job is seeing a sale through from start to finish, knowing that you’ve played a huge part in the process. As a trainee estate agent, you will represent the sellers when negotiating prices with prospective buyers. You’ll make sure that the price is agreeable on both sides – conveying any given reasons for a lower offer and being honest about unrealistic ones – then push the sale on to the next stage. This may involve a fair amount of to-ing and fro-ing, while you communicate offers, responses and counter-offers between those involved, but it can get really exciting. Once an offer has been accepted, you will be responsible for monitoring the sale and ensuring that all news is communicated to the mortgage brokers, solicitors, surveyors and buyers’ estate agents.
An important part of the trainee estate agent role involves purely keeping yourself up to date with current trends in both the local residential and commercial property markets. Property owners will be banking on you to be knowledgeable and well informed, able to answer their questions, make recommendations and generally help the process go more smoothly. It pays, therefore, to read estate agent publications, visit local council websites and view other applicable resources to ensure you know what’s going on in your immediate area and in the wider housing market. Having this knowledge at your fingertips will instil confidence in property owners, offering them the peace of mind associated with knowing an expert is handling everything.
Live and lettings live
If you have chosen to go into the lettings side of estate agency, your role will cover a few separate tasks – many of which are legal requirements, so it helps if you are a details-oriented person.
You’ll probably be asked to act as first port of call for the landlord/property manager and the tenants, seeing the let through from start to finish. This will cover advertising a property, vetting prospective tenants (obtaining references and carrying out credit checks), setting up rent collection channels, drafting the tenancy agreements and arranging for them to be signed by all parties.
You’ll also need to ensure that the rental property/ landlord has the required health and safety documentation, such as a Gas Safe certificate, plus any other legal paperwork.
As you can see, the responsibilities are many, ensuring that every day is different from the last. Now all you need to do is discover how to become a trainee estate agent.