An estate agent is an individual or a company that carries out the sale, rent or management of properties and other buildings. They examine the condition of a property and make comparisons with others in the same locale to value it and get the best price for their client. Estate agents usually specialize in marketing property available for sale and they get the services of a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to prepare the required legal documents. During transactions, they have to liaise with other professionals such as mortgage brokers, surveyors, and bankers.
The title for an individual who manages a group of privately owned, mostly tenanted properties under one ownership is an estate agent.
The United Kingdom has a number of residential estate agent chains, with the majority of them being specialized companies locally or regionally.
Different multi-national commercial estate agencies exist as well, usually European, Anglo-American or global. These firms provide services that go beyond agency work, branching out into a full range of property advisory services. Not many large firms in the UK trade in both commercial and residential property.
Estate agents typically work around 35 to 40 hours each week, even though there are times when the hours are much longer. Working hours usually include unsocial hours and majority of the roles performed by estate agents will involve work on the weekends. Work in the evenings is very common especially when there are pending deals to be completed for clients.
Part-time work is common among estate agents. Self-employment and freelance work are also common and success in all the ventures depends on the economic state of the property market.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) defines the full legal terms and definition of an estate agent in the UK and such can be found on the official website. The OFT is also responsible for enforcing the regulations for estate agents.
The Estate Agents Act of 1979 and the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act of 2007 serve to provide guidelines for regulating residential estate agents in the United Kingdom. The sales process is regulated by Consumer Protection Regulation (CPRs) of 2012.
Certain trade associations also exist for estate agents in charge of residential property. It is a legal requirement to belong to such organizations in order to trade as an estate agent.
Estate agents who join INEA benefit from access to more listings of local and national property to let and to sell. INEA makes use next generation B2B networking technology to help agents share the properties for sale and to be let out to a larger audience through fellow sub-agents. INEA is also involved in government consultations on consumer issues and on property legislation.
NAEA’s strict codes disciplines members who breach its code of conduct. The association incorporates warnings and cautions in its disciplinary process, with up to $5000 charged on penalties for breaching laid down rules.
The RICS is the major body for UK property professionals, dealing with both commercial, residential and agricultural property. Some estate agents are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and are known as chartered surveyors. A code of conduct is followed containing regulations about different aspects of their responsibilities.
In addition, the Ombudsman for Estate Agents Scheme obtained OFT approval for the Code of Practice for Residential Sales and has over 2,500 member agencies
Estate agents generally start off as trainees or assistant sales of letting negotiators as they progress to senior positions. Building on experiences in selling and letting different types of properties takes place within this period.
Professional training takes place on the job and in-house to provide an insight into the running of the business and a clear understanding of attached legislation practices attached to working as an estate agent.
Wherever the opportunity presents itself, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is recommended for Estate agents. UK’s leading professional body for estate agency, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) offers a range of short courses to provide continuous education.
Estate Agents working in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can obtain NfoPP Level 3 Technical Award in Sale of Residential Property.
Estate Agents working in Scotland can obtain the Scottish version of the NfoPP Level 3 Technical Award in Sale of Residential Property, which is NfoPP SCQF Level 6 Technical Award.
Estate agents are well-known for their creative ways of describing properties. For example, ‘easy to maintain living space’ may mean that the property is quite small. This is a unique way of putting a positive spin on the descriptions and usually, the buyers and sellers can get what they need.
Fees for estate agents are charged to the seller of the property. Generally, the practice is to charge the seller on a basis of no sale, no fee. Therefore, the customer has no need to pay the estate agent if the property doesn’t sell.
A sale of the property that was introduced and completed by an estate agent will mean that about 1% to 2% of the sale price of the property will be paid.
There are estate agency software used to manage property viewings, buying applicants, and to market and sell properties. The latest technology provides the opportunity for home buyers to receive information about property without stepping on the property, browse through websites for recent listings and use location-based applications on mobile phones to display properties for sale in a local vicinity.
Recently, agents make use of a multi listing service to get their jobs done. Through MLS, a main agent can send details about a property for sale or for rent to other sub-agents. Such sub-agents then market and introduce interested applicants to the main agent. MLS records a higher level of success with property sales and agents offer it as a premium service to their clients.