The property industry is always in need of new recruits, offering excellent career opportunities for self-motivated people who are prepared to work hard.
Being an estate agent is not a typical corporate career - it is highly entrepreneurial and rewards personal initiative. This means you can expect an income in proportion to your level of commitment, hard work and willingness to undergo continuous professional development (CPD).
“Becoming an estate agent is no longer a stop-gap or part-time job, but a real career choice with great prospects. It is a choice definitely worth considering for graduates, especially if they are self-starters, people orientated and ambitious,” says Berry Everitt, managing director of the Chas Everitt International property group.
“There is more scope for agents to do really well nowadays because there are fewer agents in a growing market. Agent numbers in South Africa have dropped significantly in the past few years, whereas the demand for homes keeps increasing as the population grows.”
In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic and the struggling economy, the residential property market has shown remarkable resilience. According to the latest FNB Property Broker and Estate Agent Survey, the SA Reserve Bank’s sharp interest rate cutting this year has led to a resurgence in perceived residential activity, while the post-lockdown levels for the three major commercial property segments – industrial, retail and offices – have remained far more muted.
“It is possible that household sector mortgage advances growth may begin to outpace corporate mortgage advances growth in the near term - something that has hardly ever happened since early-2014,” says John Loos, Property Sector Strategist at FNB Commercial Property Finance.
What the job entails
Successful estate agents have to be self motivated, well organised and have good interpersonal skills. An understanding family is also a prerequisite as the hours can be very erratic.
Although you choose your working hours to some extent you have to accept that your evenings and weekends may be interrupted by clients. You always have a responsibility to buyers and sellers, which means being available when they need you.
The estate agency you work for will generally provide training, take care of administration, advertising, printed stationery, management support and the office environment. However, you will need to cover your own transport and telephone costs as well as any additional promotional material.
After getting the mandate to market a property, the next step is to discuss the marketing plan with the sellers and arrange advertising and viewings. You then check through all the buyers on your database who are actively looking for properties, and take qualified buyers to view the home. Keep in mind that Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in new protocols for estate agents and viewers, which include keeping detailed registers of all buyers, maintaining social distancing, wearing masks and sanitising while viewing a property.
Once a buyer is interested in making an offer, your negotiating skills come into play and it often requires many discussions with buyers and sellers before a successful sale takes place.
Keys to success
Buying and selling property has many legal aspects and strong administrative and communication skills are of vital importance. You need to be familiar with all aspects of the suburbs in which you are operating - from prospective developments and neighbourhood issues to rates and municipal bylaws. A knowledge of the complexities of dealing with local authorities is a must to obtain documentation such as title deeds and plans.
Comparative market analysis is essential when you value a property, so you need to ensure that your database of properties and contacts is kept up to date to be able to make relevant comparisons. You must also be able to read plans and pin-point a property’s strong and weak points. Understanding and keeping up to date with the financing options offered by various financial institutions is a key part of the job, particularly when it comes to providing advice to first time buyers.
To be entitled to earn commission, all estate agents need a NQF4 qualification recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), which regulates the estate agency profession.
The first step in this career is to join a reputable estate agency and then register as an intern agent with the EAAB. The board will issue a fidelity fund certificate as evidence of registration and confirmation that you are legally entitled to carry out the activities of an estate agent. The certificate must be renewed each year.
After a 12 month internship, you can write the NQF4 exam to obtain the necessary qualification. With a NQF5 qualification you can become a licence partner or principal agent, which in turn entitles you to run and own an estate agency or franchise.
During the intern period new agents will learn the principles of real estate, property law and ethics, sales and marketing techniques needed and how to run their businesses. Most of the learning takes place in the field while working alongside experienced agents.
Many of the larger national estate agencies run their own training academies for interns as well as existing agents. Before applying to join an agency as an intern, you should do in depth research on the options available and what type of support and training each agency has to offer.
Don’t expect to get rich quick as an estate agent. However, agents who are prepared to work hard can earn well over R100 000 a year and some of the top earners in South Africa achieve more than R500 000 a year, even during difficult times.