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Estate Agents

The Duties And Requirements Of Estate Agents

While an Estate Agent in the UK, does some similar duties as what is called a Real Estate Agent in the US, there are some important differences.  In addition, the educational requirements can vary, each state in the US will have its own regulations, so let's examine the differences, and similarities between the two terms.

In The UK An Agent Will Handle More Different Types Of Property Processes

A person that handles renting, selling, buying and managing of real property or buildings will normally be called an Estate agent.  However, some that only do rentals will be referred to as letting or management agents, and those that specialise in only marketing properties might be called a solicitor instead.  In parts of the UK, attorneys handle much of the selling and legal documentation, and it can vary by area quite a bit, blurring the line between solicitor and agent.

The other terms that can be confusing are the difference between real estate and property.  In the US, one can use real estate, real property, or just property, while in the UK simply property is most common.  In the past, many home sellers were referred to as house agents, and land sellers as land agents, but this is on the decline in modern times.

All the different kinds of "agents" will need to have extensive knowledge of the local buying and selling markets for homes, and what makes one property more valuable than another.  Staying on top of the local laws and future developments can make or break a new agent.  For instance, if a new shopping centre is soon to be constructed in a local area, it will bring massive amounts of unwanted traffic to some roads and properties, making them worth less money, while others in the area may get a boost in value because of the convenience of nearby shopping.

Estate Agents Are Regulated By The Office Of Fair Trading

In the UK the office of fair trading is a non-profit government department that was established by the Fair Trading Act of 1973 in order to regulate protection for the consumer and keep anti competitive actions in check.  It prohibits many unfair acts like price fixing, scams, and cartels to keep competition alive and well.

When it comes to property,  the OFT makes sure that there aren't deceptive advertising, unfair competition, and assures a full disclosure of facts about the property, plus efficient handling of the money when conveyed.  All of this is in order to keep the consumer from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous  agents or those posing as agents.  The OFT does the investigations into wrong doing and the enforcement after the fact as well.  Residential agents will also be regulated by several different acts that came into law in 1979, 1991  and 2007 that further tighten rules on advertising, descriptions of property, plus remedies in court for violations.

Residential property sellers are usually members in good standing with several different associations that monitor poor behaviour such as the  INEA and the NAEA, each with their own ways of disciplining members to maintain a certain code of conduct among members.  Members can even be fined for misconduct up to 5,000 pounds per incident.

While There Are Some Large Chain Businesses Selling Property, It's Not The Rule

In the UK, there are actually very few large chains of property and estate sellers, most tend to be locally located and operated, and specialise in knowing the local markets only.   On the other hand there are some huge multi-national property sellers that work the global market, usually in conjunction with American or European firms.  Plus on the local level most buyer and seller agents will specialise in either residential properties or commercial, but very few do both.

The Fee Structure Can Vary Depending On The Type Of Properties Involved

The letting agents that usually handle the rental of commercial property usually charge a fee equal to 7%-15% of the first year's rent in addition to the entire first month's rent as well.  If there are more than one agent handling the deal, they will most likely split the commission, each taking half.

Letting agents that do mostly residential properties have a slightly different structure.  If they are employed by the property owner as a manager they may get a much smaller commission, but are getting paid a monthly salary instead. If all they do is bring in clients, no management involved, then they can charge as much as they want to find renters.  They can even charge application fees to prospective tenants that are non refundable, so it's buyer beware in those situations.

A typical renter in the UK will pay a fist month rent, a security or bonding deposit equal to about a month's rent, plus the application and administration fees charged by the letting agent.  Lately the government has standardised the rental agreements and they can now be found online for a small fee, instead of paying a high price from the letting agent.

Residential Property Sellers Generally Receive A 1% Commission

If there is only one property selling agent involved they usually will receive a 1% commission of the total VAT price of the property, but can also charge for advertising expenses on top of that commission.  When more than one agency is involved the earned commissions can go as high as 3%.

Lately A For Sale By Owner Approach Has Surfaced In The UK

Since the internet has exploded in the last decade, it has become an inexpensive way to sell residential properties.  Instead of charging a percentage of the sales price, they offer a fixed fee, but offer less services as a result.  The online listers can place the properties on the major websites that have other, normally listed homes, for a much reduced price.

The individual services, like taking the photos, installing the for sale sign, and delivery of customers to the door can all be purchased separately for extra fees.  Some also charge an extra fee upon the sale of the property as well, but still lower than a normal sales agent.  Some of these agents were former For Sale By Owner Agents, that have now switched to for sale online instead.

When Choosing An Online Agent, It's Important To Do Research

Some online property sellers in the UK and extensions of larger, successful companies and they have the online traffic to show for it.  On the other hand, some of the newer companies are doing quite well too.  The best way to find out how much traffic they get to their websites is to check their Alexa rankings to see how high they are, actually the lower the number the better.  You'll definitely want to choose the online sellers that can offer the most website traffic as this will result in a faster sale.

There are also a few companies online, such as "The Big Property List" that have researched all the information on all the online property sellers in the UK and compiled the information in a comparison list online.  There you can compare all the their Alexa rankings, website rankings, number of pages and back links.

Before you make a decision on one of them.  Pay careful attention to the total number of pages each company has online, this is in direct proportion to the number of people that will be searching their website looking for homes to buy. You can also see the different amounts that each on charges in commissions, fees, number of clients, and the year that they were established.  This is quite a resource that should be explored if this is the way you want to list your home.

Things To Be Aware Of If Choosing Online Estate Agents

Online property agents don't normally take clients out to view properties, that's the duty of the homeowner, and that's why they're saving so much money on the deal.  Even the valuation of your home is typically done using online software, and the agent doesn't come out to do an in person valuation.

Make extra sure you know what is included once you have an interested buyer.  Some online agents will do some negotiating, while others won't, and you need to know in advance what you're getting, and for what price.  Some online agents also have complete full service agencies as well, and will try to move you from the lower commission to the higher one if you're in need of help to finalise the deal.  Just be sure and ask so you're not surprised.  As with any other business, you get what you pay for and don't get what you don't pay for.  So if you want to do some of the work yourself, do some research.

Some Of The General Requirements For Becoming Estate Agents In The UK

There are several different type of requirements for obtaining the license to become an estate agent in the UK, some are academic in nature, rules and laws that must be learned and adhered to in order to do the job. Other requirements are what can make an agent more successful in their pursuits in all walks of life, including selling properties.

The hardest part to teach are those mostly intangible things like an outgoing personality, ability to stay focused over the long haul, cold calling when there's no clients calling you, and going out and meeting strangers to ask them if they're planning on selling their home anytime soon.

The easier, more academic, type of education is going to involve knowing all the laws of ownership involving property,  rules of eviction for renters, laws involving transfers of titles, surveying properties, understanding full disclosure laws, and much more.  These can all be taught in classes.

A sales background in any other type of selling can be an excellent way to start learning the skills of negotiation, persuasion, and the outgoing personality that will be required in a property sales career.  It also helps to know a bit about construction and remodelling in order to smooth over some of the buyers reluctance when a particular property is lacking an amenity they desire.

The absolute hardest skills to learn are the ones that keep you calling people on the phone after you've been told no a hundred times already.  Or knocking on one more door to see if you can find a seller willing to sell a house in the preferred neighbourhood of your rich buyer.  The amount of stamina and determination is hard to measure until it's 6 PM in the evening, cold and raining, but you still haven't gotten a new lead yet for the day.

There Are Companies Online Offering Complete Education For Estate Agents

And online search reveals that there are plenty of online companies offering complete educations in surveying properties for sale, management and development of rental properties, management of estates, selling commercial properties, management of commercial retail properties, and even structural engineering for those that are inclined.

In addition to the above classes, there are also plenty of classes on sales training in order to develop the winning attitude that it takes to make in the sales arena.  The fortitude that it takes to survive on commission is tough to learn, and can take many years of practice and failure to get to the point where having doors slammed in your face only makes you more determined to go on to the next one.

Finally, knowing and keeping abreast of the laws in your area, and country can be an enormous asset when dealing with property.  When there is money involved there will always be people trying to get what isn't theirs, so knowing where the property line is, and knowing who inherits what after a death in the family will help you weed through the scammers and spend most of your time talking to qualified buyers and sellers.  That's one of the most important aspects of sales is to only spend your time talking to people the can buy what you have for sale.

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