Hammer time: Considering a career in real estate
Posted March 15, 2012, by Mike Kermode
The real estate business encompasses the buying, selling, renting and valuing of land or buildings. Real estate professionals are the crucial conduits between buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants, and deal with everyone from first-time home buyers to corporations buying multi-million dollar commercial complexes. If you have a winning way with people and are a skilled negotiator, this industry could be your ticket to a dynamic and lucrative career.
Jobs in real estate
‘Real estate professional’ is a broad term. In reality, there is a range of jobs in the industry to host your particular talents.
There are also different types of property to work with. The majority of agencies deal with residential properties and handle the buying, selling and leasing of houses and units. There are also commercial properties – retail and industrial spaces, hotels, unit developments and office blocks – which need to be bought, sold and leased.
Here’s a quick rundown of just some of the professional avenues available in real estate:
Real estate agent
This is a general term for what can be a multifaceted role. Agents sell, lease or manage property on behalf of owners or vendors. Depending on the size and structure of the agency, agents can also be in charge of marketing properties and arranging viewings. When involved in a sale, their role is to act as chief intermediary between the owner and the buyer, supporting their negotiations to find an agreed sale price. Upon sale, the agent receives a cut of the sale price, a commission.
Real estate agents can also be small business owners or franchisees when they own their own agency, so this may appeal to entrepreneurial types.
Salespeople work under ‘principal’ real estate agents on behalf of the seller (vendor) to sell a property. They’re often charged with a number of duties, including marketing properties, sourcing buyers, providing advice to the vendor on the market, organising inspections and negotiating sales. Once they’ve gained some experience, a salesperson may want to get licensed to become a principal agent.
Property managers handle the leasing of properties, including marketing rental properties, choosing tenants (and the rent they’ll pay based on market conditions), writing leases, sorting out repairs, and standing for the landlord at tribunal hearings. If you’ve rented a house before, chances are this is who you’ve dealt with.
Buyer’s agents are hired by potential buyers to find properties that suit their needs or wants, and help negotiate the sales.
Valuers determine the value of a property based on the market, to establish a working price – not just for people with an eye to sell but for the purposes of insurance, mortgage assessment, determining rent, determining assets, and tax. Valuations span housing, land and commercial property, and are often commissioned by private owners, government agencies, insurance companies and banks.
Fast-talking, fast-thinking and super-confident, auctioneers conduct public sales on the spot rather than having the drawn-out series of negotiations involved in an estate sale. Auctioneers need to be licensed agents or operate on behalf of one.
Why work in real estate?
Real estate is about so much more than just buildings and land – it represents people’s homes, businesses, investments and dreams. Everyone buys, sells or leases property, and this activity is central not only to individual lives, but the greater economy.
Real estate is an industry that hinges on change, and real estate pros thrive on the exhilaration of closing a sale in what can often be a highly competitive environment – not to mention lucrative.
Ask any real estate agent whether they consider their job a challenging one and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get an unequivocal ‘yes’. The hours can be long and you can expect to work on weekends, as many people cannot inspect or have properties inspected during the week.
Your success is also somewhat contingent on the fluctuations of the market – sometimes people just aren’t as interested in buying or selling.
But this is partly where the thrill of the job lies, and it’s one of the chief motivators for many real estate professionals. When the market’s slow, you need to pull out all the stops to keep your properties turning over. Like any job, it takes practice and perseverance to succeed. It takes a savvy operator who understands not just properties and markets, but people.
This is a job that relies heavily on networking and communication, and you get to meet a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds and situations. It’s probably one of the most ‘people-person’ jobs out there.
Working in real estate, you have the freedom and flexibility to forge your own path. If you have the ambition and the knack, the financial rewards can be impressive.
Qualities of a real estate agent
Pete Johnston is a Central Coast real estate salesperson who was co-interviewer during a recent recruiting drive. He was flabbergasted by the fact that some applicants had poor body language, mumbled their words and appeared totally lacking in confidence. One guy was 15 minutes late.
Top of the list in real estate essentials is to be a good communicator, as well as a consummate professional. It is, after all, about building relationships. This is an industry that pivots on confident and capable people who speak well and have a bright personality. You need to be a smooth talker, but without seeming shonky.
You also need to be thoroughly self-motivated. As trite as it sounds, those houses aren’t going to sell themselves. If you don’t sell it, it’ll be some other agent getting the fat commission.
Let’s face it, real estate is an industry with a reputation for the odd dodgy dealer. Because people know this reputation, however misguided it may be, you clearly need to be honest. You also need to go out of your way to provide the customer service people deserve, and to give your role the integrity your hard work warrants. This means scrupulousness – attention to detail is crucial in real estate. It can be the difference between a client trusting and loathing you.
For most people, contacting a real estate agent is a big deal. Buying or selling a house or business is a big decision, and it’s one that demands respect. It’s an opportunity for you, but it’s also an emotionally fraught process for some people that requires patience and understanding.
What qualifications you’ll need
Legislation varies somewhat between the states; for some roles you need to be licensed; but for all roles you need to be registered. Completing a property services course is the best way to get the necessary training and credentials.
Completing an accredited course will give you a valuable foundation in the basics of managing, buying and selling real estate, as well as knowledge of national and international markets, property cycles, and business and economic principles. It’s an opportunity to get an edge in an industry where having an edge can make all the difference.