There is a huge debate taking place currently in the employment market: are qualifications actually necessary when applying for a job? Go back ten, maybe even five years and the answer would probably have been a resounding “yes!” It seemed that gaining that degree / HND / Brownie badge was more important than transferable skills and relevant behaviours. You only got a 2:2? Forget it!
Not so any more. With increasing numbers of people boasting armfuls of qualifications, the balance has started to shift; employers are beginning to realise that exam results are not the be-all and end-all, and that other aspects are just as – if not more – important for increasing your job prospects.
This is definitely the case within estate agency. While qualifications demonstrate that an individual is able to learn and perform at a particular level, it’s characteristics that can truly determine who might become a shining star in the property world.
Personality is key
We’ve mentioned previously that to become a successful estate agent, it’s vital that candidates possess certain traits. You could be the most academically-decorated applicant in the pile, but if you are shy and retiring, a good estate agent you will not make.
Confidence is a pre-requisite, as you will need to deal with lots of different people on a daily basis. Excellent communication skills are critical, given the many face-to-face, telephone and written liaisons you’ll encounter. And yes, while this is recruitment-jargon bingo gold, passion is a necessity.
Estate agency is a largely sales role, you need to be enthusiastic, ambitious and personable; take the initiative and support your peers – in short, demonstrate some passion.
Thus it matters not if you have arrived at estate agency straight out of college or are changing your career path – if you have the desirable skills and a fabulous personality, then qualifications may pale into insignificance.
Though they could help…
Of course, that’s not to say that qualifications aren’t valid and extremely useful. There’s no doubt that possessing a relevant qualification will enhance your chances of being progressed in the recruitment process. Graduates are often favoured as it is thought they could rise quickly through the ranks, while some companies offer graduate estate agent fast-track schemes.
There’s no denying that it is a competitive environment and to stand out from the crowd, it definitely won’t hurt if your CV lists a Building Surveying degree or a postgraduate qualification in Real Estate Management.
There is a range of estate agent qualifications that applicants (or existing estate agents) might like to think about taking which are offered by the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP). The residential sales certificates can be studied for at home and are required for anyone who wants to become a member of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) – the UK’s ‘leading professional body for estate agency’.
What about in the future?
All right, so effectively we’re saying that you don’t have to have a qualification to be an estate agent, but having one could help differentiate between two candidates. However, this is something that might change in the future.
Since 2013, RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) has pushed for all estate agents to gain mandatory qualifications – at the very least, to sign up to a professional regulation scheme. While this has not yet been enforced, it remains a possibility, especially if the industry as a whole becomes a regulated entity, as requested by the NAEA.
Of course, it’s possible to start your career in estate agency in a non-sales role, as an administrator or marketer, perhaps, for which these specific accolades may not be wholly necessary. Or else, you could work for an agency that actively encourages all staff to take a qualification while working.
What’s our take?
We asked two of our experts for their views on the subject:
“While we always say it’s about personality, a qualification in a relevant subject – such as town planning, property development or even law – is advantageous because it indicates that the candidate has a property-related focus in the first instance. It can also assist with career progression.”
– Allison Dalrymple, Director, Lettings & Management Division.
“Absolutely. Our candidate pool consists of a mixture of people, with qualifications and without. The most important thing, as far as we’re concerned, is to have the right attitude. If you have drive, personality and ambition, then you could make a great estate agent.”
– Georgina Eastwood, Associate.