Working as an estate agent, you’ll be responsible for everything from collecting information about a property to arranging viewings, advising clients on the best property for them, sharing insights about the local area, liaising with different parties to progress sales and moving tenants into their new homes.

But none of this actually requires a formal qualification or years of experience. In fact, research from the HomeOwners Alliance shows that only 12% of house hunters would be put-off by inexperience, instead rating professionalism, appearance and telephone manner as the most important criteria (93%) when choosing an estate agent.

Over the last five years, an average of 31% of the candidates we place have no prior industry experience, simply a desire to move into the property sector. Their backgrounds span hospitality, hotels, restaurants and bar work, cabin crew, recruitment, athletes, ex-military and beyond.

Their lack of industry experience didn’t hold them back because it’s the innate qualities and transferable skills that are most important to a career in the property industry. Here, we share the top four transferrable skills we believe make a great estate agent.

1. Competitiveness

We see this trait a lot in our candidates that have played sport to a high-level because they have such a strong work ethic. Everything they do – from the food they consume, to the hours spent practising and the mindset they approach tasks with – is focused firmly on the end goal. Bringing this quality to a career as an estate agent means you’re going to give the job everything you have in order to see that your client ends up with the best new team members.

But it’s more than that. With a competitive streak, you’ll be a self-starter, able to motivate yourself and seek out opportunities to improve and become the best you can be. It means that when you enter an organisation, you’re open to listening and being coached in order to learn the business.

2. Good communication

Whether you’re in lettings or sales, your job will involve managing the expectations of different parties in order to complete a deal. Working as an estate agent, you have to understand that when people are moving it always has the potential to be stressful. And often, something else has happened in their life to trigger the move, which makes emotions and feelings of anxiety hit new levels.

The best communicators are those who actively listen to everyone involved rather than talk over people and tell them what to do. When you can appreciate the wider situation, you can better balance it and satisfy your more demanding clients.

Good communicators who can also demonstrate persistence and proactivity will, for example, pick up the phone to follow up on every lead or action promptly. Their determination to reach a good conclusion for all involved means they’re resilient when faced with challenging situations, and able to let stress go rather than allow it to niggle away and affect their work.

3. Empathy

It might sound clichéd, but ‘the customer is king’, which is why being able to deliver exceptional customer service is so important. As an estate agent, you’re assisting people to move into their next home, so your clients have a lot of time, money and emotion invested in the process. Working in sales or lettings you will need to go the extra mile at all times to ensure they have a positive experience that they will want to share with their friends, family and social networks.

Your customers want to feel like they know exactly what’s going on, all of the time – even if that news isn’t what they want to hear. If you’re honest about any delays or issues, you’re more likely to gain their trust than if they feel you’re keeping things from them.

4. Passion

The best candidates we place are as equally invested as their clients. When you love the job, and you love the properties you’re showcasing, it comes through in the way you communicate, and people will warm to you more quickly.

Extending that passion out towards the community and being able to demonstrate your local knowledge is crucial to getting your clients on side. It’s easy to walk someone round a property pointing out the obvious like, “Here’s the kitchen, and across the hall is a spacious sitting room.” But what’s more engaging is to talk about their local area, the transport links, restaurants and schools – for example, “If you cut across the park it takes less than 10 minutes to walk to Whitehill School, which Ofsted recently upgraded to outstanding. It also offers excellent wrap around care, which is great if you need to stay later at work.”

Let us help you

If you’re looking to switch careers, why not see if a property job might be suited to your skill set? Our team can give you all the help, advice and reassurance you need to start afresh and create a rewarding future career as an estate agent.