Estate agents liaise with clients, solicitors and other property professionals to negotiate sales and lettings on residential or commercial properties

Working as an estate agent, you'll usually specialise in the sale and/or letting of residential or commercial properties, businesses or land, on behalf of your clients. You'll value, market and lead viewings on properties, with the aim of negotiating the best price for your client.

Your role will involve frequent liaison with banks, building societies, mortgage brokers, surveyors, solicitors and other estate agencies during transactions. You may also handle sales taking place via auction.

Types of estate agent

You may usually specialise in one area of estate agency, such as:

  • residential sales
  • residential lettings
  • commercial sales
  • commercial lettings
  • rural estate.


As an estate agent in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you'll need to:

  • collect information about a property and arrange for photographs to be taken
  • visit and talk to sellers about their property and its special features
  • estimate the value of a property
  • market and promote properties for sale
  • arrange and carry out property viewings for prospective buyers
  • represent the sellers in negotiation with prospective buyers
  • monitor sales as they proceed and liaise with all interested parties including mortgage brokers, solicitors, surveyors and other estate agents
  • recommend properties to clients that meet their needs and budget
  • make sure that the price agreed is acceptable to both buyer and seller
  • keep up to date with trends, legislation and regulation in the relevant property market.

If you work in the lettings area of estate agency, you'll need to:

  • vet prospective tenants by collecting references and performing credit checks
  • ensure properties meet legal and health and safety requirements, e.g. gas safety certificates
  • draw up tenancy agreement contracts
  • collect or organise rent payments
  • act as a property manager and resolve any issues that arise with properties.

In Scotland, property sales are usually handled by a solicitor.


  • Starting salaries for estate agents are in the region of £17,000 to £25,000 on-target earnings (OTE) for trainee posts.
  • With experience, salaries can rise from £28,000 to £60,000, plus commission.
  • At the higher end of the scale, in certain management positions, and particularly if you're in a high-end London agency, you could earn up to £100,000.

Salaries are typically made up of a basic salary plus commission, which is usually based on a percentage of your own, or your branch's sales. Commission rates vary but tend to range between 0.75% to 3%. Determining factors are location, the size of the firm, your base salary and the economic climate. You may be employed on a guaranteed initial commission at first, for a limited period to give you a chance to gain experience and start securing deals. Some estate agencies offer branch commission, meaning all workers get a proportional share of the sales for the branch.

You're likely to receive employee benefits as an estate agent. These differ depending on the role and organisation but can include perks such as a company car, fuel allowance, bonus schemes, pension, industry qualifications and an employee discount on your home purchases. You may also receive referral incentives, when you successfully engage a buyer with associate professionals, such as surveyors and conveyancers.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

You'll generally work a basic 35 to 40-hour week, although it can be longer, especially when completing deals for clients. Working hours typically include evening work and Saturdays. Some employers offer time off in lieu if you're regularly required to work antisocial hours.

Self-employment or freelance work is possible, and with experience, you could establish your own business. Success depends on the economic state of the property market. Part-time work is common.

What to expect

  • Work is office based, but you'll also spend a significant amount of time visiting properties, either for valuations and marketing opportunities or for viewings with potential buyers.
  • The busy nature of the role, having frequent targets to meet and dealing with difficult clients means you'll need to be comfortable working under pressure and in potentially stressful situations.
  • Work is fast-paced and varied. You get to meet new people frequently and it can be rewarding to help them find and secure their property.
  • You'll regularly travel during your working day, so a full driving licence is extremely helpful and likely to be a requirement of the job.
  • You'll be expected to dress smartly and act with professionalism at all times.


A degree is not an essential requirement for entry or development in this career, but the transferable skills gained from degree level study will be an advantage. Having subject knowledge from a degree, foundation degree or HND in the following subject areas would be especially relevant and desirable:

  • business-related studies
  • civil and structural engineering
  • estate management
  • property development/management
  • surveying
  • urban and land studies
  • law.

A postgraduate qualification is not required for entering the career and professional exams can be taken once you're in the role.

You may be able to enter the profession at an administrator level and then progress to the position of estate agent as you gain experience, but this is not usually necessary.

Previous experience in the industry is not usually required, however, a sales, administrative or customer service background can be helpful and may be requested for some roles. There are increasing amounts of legislation applicable to property transactions, which needs to be understood by industry professionals, so experience of legal work may be advantageous.


You will need to show:

  • skills in negotiation and persuasion to win clients and succeed with deals
  • a confident and outgoing manner to gain trust and give reassurance
  • commercial awareness and the ability to achieve sales targets
  • excellent verbal and written communication skills for liaising with professional contacts and writing or checking complex documents
  • high levels of customer service to support clients and keep them happy
  • determination, perseverance and patience to complete timely and complex deals
  • professionalism and good time management to prioritise tasks effectively and instil confidence in clients
  • IT skills.

Work experience

Starting a career in estate agency is relatively straightforward as it's common to find trainee negotiator opportunities where no prior experience is required, and full training is given.

Experience in a related area such as sales, customer service or administration may help your application, as will having good IT skills.

It could be beneficial to shadow someone in an estate agency while you search for jobs. This would demonstrate your interest in working in the property sector, help you make contacts and may even lead to a job.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


Most estate agents and estate agency practices operate in the private sector. Agencies range in size from small one-branch agencies to larger chains with multiple offices.

The bigger agencies often have specialist divisions in commercial, rural, corporate or residential property, planning, surveying and property investment.

You may be able to find graduate recruitment schemes with larger estate agencies, these are most likely to be within multi-branch firms.

Competition for entry varies according to the state of the economy, particularly the property market. Finding vacancies in buoyant times is relatively easy, but positions may not always be advertised so you may need to make general enquiries on an informal basis.

Look for job vacancies at:

Professional development

You may start as a trainee or assistant sales or lettings negotiator and progress to the position of senior sales or lettings negotiator. In this role, you would build on your experience of selling and letting different types of properties, as well as potentially performing valuations.

Training takes place on the job and in-house. You'll likely have an in-house induction, which may last one or two weeks, giving you an insight into the running of the business and the legislation attached to estate agency work.

Training can include areas such as:

  • conveyancing practice and procedure
  • dealing with difficult people
  • effective estate agency
  • effective leadership
  • essential law for residential estate agents
  • first-class customer service.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is encouraged and there are opportunities to study for professional qualifications. Propertymark, the UK's leading professional body for estate agencies, offers a range of training, qualifications and short courses for those working in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A separate range of courses is offered for those working in Scotland. Larger agencies may also have in-house training academies, but qualifications from these will not be transferable or widely recognised by other firms, which could affect your future job prospects.

Career prospects

A common progression route involves moving into the role of a senior sales negotiator, which can happen fairly quickly, with as little as one year's experience in a trainee post. With around three to five years of experience, you could progress further into the role of branch manager. As branch manager you would manage staff in the branch, carry out senior-level sales or lettings negotiations and mentor junior sales negotiators.

After branch manager, there can be a bottleneck in promotion opportunities. However, with substantial experience, you could progress to the position of area manager, in which you would manage several branches. Mobility can be important for career development as it may be necessary to move branches or companies to achieve promotion to a senior level. You could also consider self-employment, becoming a partner or sole principal of your own firm.

Low-cost online estate agents are now mainstream in this industry but have not disrupted the sector as much as predicted, despite traditional high street agents having higher fees. Online estate agents account for under 10% of the sector, so there are opportunities in this area of the market, but they are much less common than roles in high-street agencies. Online estate agents are more likely to offer remote or hybrid working roles, which could open up more options for senior roles without relocation.

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