A guide to estate agent jobs (With definition)

Updated 25 September 2023

Estate agents help home and business owners buy and sell properties to fit their wants and needs. Learning about the process and requirements necessary to become an estate agent can help you decide if the field is right for you. If you like research, property and helping others, a career as an estate agent may be a good option. In this article, we discuss what an estate agent is, explore their responsibilities and look at additional qualifications for fulfilling this role.

What is an estate agent?

An estate agent, sometimes called a real estate agent, is a sales professional who specialises in the sales and letting of commercial and residential properties or land. They often work on behalf of clients to negotiate fair prices and value market properties. They consult with banks, mortgage brokers, surveyors, solicitors, building societies and other estate agencies to make transactions. They may also make sales through auctions. Estate agents can further choose a niche in areas such as:

  • Residential sales: Concerns the sale of a lot or parcel of four or fewer units for residential use. This category includes homes and other related structures.

  • Residential lettings: Concerns facilitating the rental of residential property between a landlord and a customer. This category includes rental homes and flats.

  • Commercial sales: Concerns the sale of a lot or parcel for commercial purposes. This category includes office buildings, storefronts and similar structures.

  • Commercial lettings: Concerns facilitating the rental of commercial property between a landlord and a customer. This may include office space, shops and other similar buildings.

  • Rural estate: Concerns dealing in land zones used for purposes like farming or agriculture.

Related: 15 Sales Jobs That Pay Well

What are the responsibilities of an estate agent?

Estate agents work with buyers, sellers and landlords to ensure fair, quality transactions among all parties. In sales, estate agents have responsibilities including:

  • Advising clients during the decision-making process

  • Arranging photographers for promotional photoshoots

  • Collecting information about properties

  • Engaging with various related parties such as brokers, solicitors and other agents

  • Ensuring that the agreed-upon price is acceptable for both the buyer and the seller

  • Estimating the value of a property

  • Helping buyers decide on which property to bid

  • Marketing and promoting a property for sale

  • Monitoring sales proceedings

  • Representing the seller or the buyer in negotiations with the other party

  • Staying informed about the trends of the relevant property markets

  • Visiting and discussing a property and its features with a seller

When dealing with letting services, an estate agent may have slightly different responsibilities, like:

  • Collecting or organising rent payment schedules

  • Ensuring properties meet health, legal and safety standards

  • Reviewing prospective tenants through credit checks and reference collection

  • Serving as a property manager

  • Writing tenant agreement contracts

Related: Customer Service Skills: Examples, Definition and How To Demonstrate

What is the working environment for an estate agent?

Estate agents typically work traditional 35- to 40-hour weeks. They may extend their hours occasionally when on a deadline to complete a specific deal. In the course of working traditional hours, they may work evenings and weekends depending on their clients' needs. Estate agents may work for selling or letting firms, start their own agencies or become self-employed and provide freelance services. Part-time work may also be an option.

They can split their time between working in an office and travelling in their towns or local areas to visit properties and meet with potential buyers and sellers. For this reason, many estate agents have a driving license. Most estate agents wear business attire during their daily work to appear professional and presentable.

Related: How To Write an Estate Agent CV (With Examples)

What are the education requirements for an estate agent?

Most paths to a career as an estate agent don't require you to have a degree to start in the field. However, earning one may be beneficial if you hope to advance within a firm or start your own business. It may also help you when the job market is competitive. Consider earning a degree, foundation degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) in subject areas such as:

  • Business studies

  • Civil and structural engineering

  • Estate management

  • Property development or management

  • Surveying

  • Urban and land studies

If you enter the field without a degree, you can choose to earn a postgraduate certificate and take professional exams after you've started a career as an estate agent.

Related: How to become a real estate agent with no experience

What are the work experience requirements for an estate agent?

For most entry-level positions, estate agents may not need prior work experience in the field. Look for trainee negotiator opportunities where you can get on-the-job training. You may also consider unpaid or volunteer work in related opportunities to build your background knowledge and technical skills. Though not required, it could be beneficial to have sales, customer service or administrative experience from prior positions to help you as an estate agent.

Related: Real estate agent cover letter (With template and example)

Who are employers of estate agents?

Many estate agents work in independent and private agencies. These firms may be small, one-branch companies or larger organisations with multiple offices. Larger agencies may have special departments for residential and commercial sales and lettings, along with other types of properties or investments.

Related: 14 Self-Employed Jobs in the UK

What professional development is available for estate agents?

After some time working as an estate agent you may have the opportunity to advance to a senior sales or lettings negotiator position. This change can allow you to help people buy and sell or deal in higher-value properties. It's common to receive this type of promotion within a firm and take part in a one-to-two week training with representatives from your company to prepare you for additional responsibilities. Some training courses may include:

  • Conveyancing practice and procedure

  • Customer service best practices

  • Dealing with different types of clients

  • Effective estate agency

  • Effective leadership

  • Essential law for residential estate agents

Following a promotion, you may also take advantage of continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities outside of your own company.

Related: How To Become an Estate Agent

What membership opportunities exist for estate agents?

Estate agents looking for career advancement opportunities may consider joining the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This global professional organisation establishes and enforces standards for value in the operation and development of real estate and property. There are two levels in which you can enrol. They include:

Associate (AssocRICS)

The RICS associate division is an entry-level qualification allowing a path to chartered status. You can enrol at this level at any time in your career, but you must meet one of the following requirements to do so:

  • Have one year of relevant experience and an applicable bachelor's degree

  • Have two years of relevant experience and a higher, advanced or foundation qualification

  • Have four years of relevant experience with no additional qualifications

For some, there is a direct path to entry without taking an assessment from the organisation, but most qualified estate agents follow the sector pathway and choose a study area that fits their credentials and experience. Sectors within the associate level include:

  • Building control

  • Building surveying

  • Commercial real estate

  • Facility management

  • Geomatics

  • Land and resources

  • Project management

  • Quantity surveying and construction

  • Residential

  • Valuation

To complete your path, you'll choose an RICS member counsellor to guide you through the process. You'll also pay an enrollment and annual subscription fee and pass a formal assessment. After entry, you have access to support resources, peer groups, mentor support and CPD.

Chartered (MRICS)

The RICS chartered division is a more advanced qualification for those with surveying-related training and work experience. Associate members may complete a different path to chartered status than new members. You can enrol at this level at any point in your career if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have any number of years of experience and an RICS-accredited degree

  • Have five years of relevant experience and a bachelor's degree

  • Have 10 years of relevant experience at an advanced level

The chartered level also offers a pathways program with specific areas of study. Besides those available to both associate and chartered candidates, MRICS hopefuls can also pursue admission through the following industries:

  • Corporate real estate

  • Environmental surveying

  • Infrastructure

  • Management consultancy

  • Minerals and waste management

  • Personal property, arts and antiques

  • Planning and development

  • Property finance and investment

  • Research

  • Rural

  • Taxation allowances

  • Valuation of businesses and intangible assets

Those at the chartered level have two options for testing, the assessment of professional competence or the senior professionals, specialists and academic track. The assessment of professional competence can take up to a year to complete while the other option varies in length.

Skills for an estate agent

Estate agents use a variety of interpersonal and technical skills to best perform their daily duties. Some of these skills include:

  • Confidence

  • Customer service

  • Determination

  • Knowledge of computer technology

  • Knowledge of the current market

  • Knowledge of word processing and spreadsheet software

  • Negotiation

  • Organisation

  • Patience

  • Perseverance

  • Persuasion

  • Trust

  • Written and verbal communication

Related: Top 9 Leadership Skills To Develop

Salary for an estate agent

According to Indeed salaries, estate agents make, on average, £28,172 per year. They may also earn a commission based on a percentage of their sales. Factors like location, qualifications, the economic climate and the size of a firm may influence actual salary numbers.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned are affiliated with Indeed.


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