It can be a great job for some, but you need the right personality, the right training, and the ability to work strange hours.
The idea of being a professional real estate agent often appeals to those who are unemployed or perhaps looking for a career change.
People have the perceptions that agents can work their own hours and potentially earn good commissions, but while this may be true to a certain extent, there is a lot more to being an estate agent.
For the right person, the career can be exciting and rewarding, but for the wrong personality type, it could be disappointing.
So how do you know you are fit for a career in real estate? The experts offer this advice:
What qualities or personality traits should I have?
Carla Clarke, communications manager for the Rawson Property Group, says in most of the traditional estate agency sector, earning is commission-based and hours are not limited to 9 am to 5 pm.
“The harder you work at upskilling yourself, generating business and delivering excellent service, the more you will earn. In a sense, you have the ability to write your own cheque.
“Good agents are definitely driven, self-motivated individuals willing to put in the time and effort to ensure they are the go-to agents in their areas.”
Good agents also have excellent interpersonal skills and relate well to clients; they are able to understand clients’ needs and emotions and guide and support them through often complicated or emotionally challenging situations.
“At the end of the day, property decisions are big decisions, hard decisions, and good agents are able to make sure their clients are in the best possible position to make the right decisions.”
Nikki Elliot of Country and Coastal Properties says aspiring agents must be self-motivated and tenacious, and have strong morals, honesty, and integrity.
“They must also be problem solvers and be prepared to be available at all times. A good agent must be reliable, emotionally strong, and willing to serve and walk the extra mile.”
In addition, they must be interested in their areas or specialities.
Paul Stevens, chief executive of Just Property, says people with a can-do attitude and a good work ethic, who love helping people and working in a competitive team environment, will thrive in the property industry.
“The current ‘buyers’ market’ may present a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy a home or investment property at prices and interest rates not seen for many years. There is definitely an opportunity for ambitious recruits.”
While he notes there are no income guarantees, he says the earnings potential of rookie estate agents far exceeds what they might earn in other entry-level positions.
Are there any particular skills or qualifications that are recommended?
In terms of the industry regulations, Stevens says trainee agents need to complete a 12-month internship under the supervision of a qualified agent. There are also formal qualifications to achieve, including:
• Further Education & Training (FET).
• National Qualification Forum (NQF) Level 4.
• Real Estate and Professional Designation Exam Level 4 (PDE4).
“These can be acquired while you undertake your internship.”
Clarke says any tertiary qualification in fields such as finance, sales, legal, or marketing would be “advantageous” to the potential agent, adding valuable knowledge and skills to their arsenal. However tertiary qualifications are “most definitely not” a requirement for most estate agents.
How do I choose the right agency to work for?
While the answer to this question can be subjective, Clarke recommends potential agents consider:
• A brand’s presence in the area they want to operate in.
• A brand’s values and culture, as well as team leadership.
• A brand’s access to ongoing training and upskilling, as well as to support and facilitation in obtaining the relevant real estate qualifications.
• A brand’s access to technology, systems and data that enables agents to be more efficient and professional, and added value offerings that put them ahead of the game in their services to clients.
“The recent rude awakening due to 2020’s Covid-19 lockdown effects on our industry showed that brands offering online solutions to agents and clients were able to do much more than just survive, but thrive – employing better, more efficient ways of adding value and conducting business.”
Other questions that potential agents should ask to revolve around an agency’s mindset, Stevens says.
“Does the agency have a forward-thinking creative mindset? How did they transition to working from home, for example? Were they able to nimbly adjust? You don’t want to be stuck in a business that is still holding on to legacy processes and ways of working.”
Leading from that, one should consider how tech-savvy the agency is.
“The standard of their technology will tell you a lot about how much a firm values its agents.”
Echoing Clarke, Stevens says potential agents should ask the following questions when selecting the right brand to work for:
• Do they place value on staff development?
“Your internship is a learning period so try to determine if the agency has a strong development culture. Do they offer a structured onboarding programme for interns? Do they even have a specific internship programme?”
He advises potential interns should ask about intern logbook training and mentorship as “that will clearly illustrate whether internships are well managed or a waste of time.”
• What are your prospects for advancement?
One should check if the company has a vested in the success and happiness of its agents.
“If you hope to be able to buy your own franchise one day, ask about such opportunities, and listen closely to what the franchisee says about the parent company. Is there support from their office?”
•Are you a good fit?
To be happy and fulfilled, you need to know that you and the company are a good fit, he adds.
“Ask about their values. Ask about how they live these values. Then ask if these align with your values. Weigh up values like optimism, integrity, equality, collaboration, excellence, innovation, personal development and loyalty.
“Passion and commitment are essential, along with people skills, attention to detail and a thirst for learning.”