Ophelia completed a sociology degree at Sheffield Hallam University in 2005. She then went on to study for a PGCE at Roehampton University. Wanting to follow a more corporate career, she now works as a senior sales negotiator for a bespoke estate agent in London.
After graduating from my PGCE, I decided I didn't want to teach straightaway. Instead I wanted to do something more corporate to give me the opportunity to earn more money whilst I was young. I knew I had to start at the bottom as an inexperienced graduate, so I went into a secretarial role at a high end estate agent in London and worked my way up from there. I then got head hunted to a higher position within a bespoke independent agent in prime central London.
My degree is not relevant to my current job although studying sociology and society's behaviour has been helpful in reading and understanding people who are selling or buying a house. I chose this job because I enjoy interacting and negotiating with people to get the best outcome for all.
A good estate agent's day is structured and therefore we start the morning off with calling applicants for feedback from viewings done the previous day. We then relay the feedback to the vendors. We follow this by doing 'call outs' to our registered applicants, encouraging viewings of our stock. Viewings then tend to happen in the afternoon and sometimes on into the evening. It is not uncommon that my day will finish at 7.30pm, especially in central London as a lot of our applicants are bankers who have very long hours. If we have deals in the pipeline we also put aside a couple of hours (usually in the afternoon) to chase solicitors and make sure our deals are going through.
As I have gained more experience, I do all my deal chasing so I am the one who speaks to all parties. I also now get to deal with individuals who have budgets beyond £10million (these sales are often more complicated so you have to have experience to be able to overcome issues). I also carry out valuations of flats and houses in the area to win business and I do a bit of networking with other property experts.
My ideal job would be to own a bijoux property company selling property to and for foreign investors. I would ideally like to do it abroad, perhaps in Italy, just so that I can experience different architecture and interior design.
I love how every day is different. No two deals are the same, so you are constantly learning and expanding your knowledge of the industry and legal matters. I also enjoy the fact that I am not chained to a desk and that you spend a lot of your day out on viewings. It is a great job for nosey people!
The challenging parts of the job are dealing with greedy, unrealistic people who sometimes think that because you are an agent you are untrustworthy. It is very hard overcoming people's perceptions of estate agents.
To those who would like to get into this career, I would say to try to gain a greater understanding of property law so that you know what to expect when you try to get a deal to exchange. The more knowledge you have, the more power you have and the more lawyers will want to speak to you. You also need to learn how to overcome objections with panache but without being too pushy. The worse thing an estate agent can do is bully their applicants or vendors as it will just lose you business.
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