Once upon a time, having a lively personality and a penchant for closing deals were the only key attributes needed to be an estate agent. While those skills are still relevant today, an increasing number of questions are cropping up about specific qualifications that relate to estate agents.
Consumers are becoming more demanding, and therefore expect a highly professional and personalised service. And there’s nothing more personal than selling your home. That’s why estate agents need to be at the very top of their game and possess skills that go further than having “the gift of the gab”.
Sellers and buyers want the best estate agent working for them, which means doing due diligence to ensure an agent has the appropriate skills and qualifications. But what are those qualifications, and are they a defining factor in determining the best estate agents?
In this article, we’ll look at the qualifications available to estate agents and how it might influence your decision in selecting one to sell your home.
Qualifications for being an estate agent
There are no official barometers for becoming an estate agent. Most need to display a knack for selling and might need a couple of A-Levels. But industry-standard qualifications aren’t necessary to sell homes – especially at entry-level.
The majority employers look for personality traits rather than certificates. This is because so much of being an estate agent requires having excellent people skills. When making new hires, employers tend to look for the following:
- Communication skills
- Determination (being an estate agent is a results-oriented business)
- Ability to take initiative
The above skills don’t necessarily translate onto a piece of paper with a qualification on them, and a willingness to learn takes precedent for entry-level positions. Having previous experience is also a valuable commodity for more senior roles, however.
Official estate agent qualifications
While qualifications aren’t required to get into the industry, there are registered bodies that can enhance the reputation of an estate agent and estate agencies. These can be helpful for making a distinction in what is an extremely competitive environment, where estate agents rival their co-workers and other brands to be the best in their field. Agents who are part of industry bodies also need to adhere to the standards that each organisation sets.
The primary estate agent bodies include:
Propertymark combines estate agent qualifications into one single brand. Those qualifications include ARLA, NAEA, NAVA, ICBA, APIP and NFoPP Awarding Bodies. Agents are offered flexibility when earning Propertymark qualifications so that they can still go about their day their day-to-day duties while taking one of the courses.
Part of Propertymark, ARLA stands for Association of Residential Letting Agents and was founded in 1981. It’s the largest body that solely represents letting agents and holds up standards in the UK rental market by making sure practices are run fairly and smoothly.
RICS, otherwise known as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, is a globally recognised organisation that sets and regulates standards for members of its industries, including estate agents. It believes the real estate sector should require qualifications and be fully regulated. Therefore, RICS estate agents are typically held in high esteem.
While not a regulator, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme aims to demonstrate a commitment to professional standards. It was designed to provide a fair, free and independent service to consumers, with professional industries – such as real estate – paying a fee for membership. TPO operates codes of practice and has been approved by the CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute).
The Guild has been supporting independent agents for more than 25 years, providing useful tools and market analysis in the process. There is only one Guild member per town, so that competition is distributed fairly. There are currently 800 agents in the UK with a Guild membership.
Do industry qualifications make a difference?
There are many elements customers need to factor in before choosing an estate agent, including reputation, area expertise and fees. Having a recognised qualification boosts an estate agent’s standing in the real estate market, and can provide customers with an extra level of confidence.
Knowing an agent has industry-recognised qualifications can make the decision to instruct them a little easier. The most well-known estate agents tend to be part of at least one organisation. However, qualifications aren’t routinely known outside of the industry.
This means the majority of customers won’t look for industry-related awards when selecting an estate agent. Having an official qualification can help, but it’s not a total prerequisite for estate agents performing their duties to a high level.
Should estate agents be required to have industry-specific qualifications?
Over the last few years, there has been plenty of talk around more regulation of the real estate sector and making qualifications for agents mandatory. Everyone from the government to bodies like RICS has chimed in with their thoughts on the subject.
Minimum requirements for estate agents is a topic that has been bandied around on more than a few occasions. Ideas generated include licensing regimes for estate agencies and minimum qualifications for sales and letting agents to operate officially.
Within the next two to three years, mandatory examinations should become a reality within the industry. Many feel it would help remove bad practice and rogue agents who often act in an unprofessional manner.
Finding the best-qualified agent
In the meantime, vendors aren’t left with a huge amount of choice when it comes to finding an estate agent they can be confident in from the offset – at least in terms of qualifications. Being a member of – or awarded by – an industry organisation doesn’t always indicate that an agent is of the highest quality.
At Helmsmen, we help you by offering an estate agent comparison that shows which agents are best suited to sell your home. Elements like fees, experience, qualifications, average asking price and average sale time can all be compared to see who is the best fit, meaning you can be more confident and make an informed decision about who to instruct.
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