What advice would you give someone starting out in agency?

What advice would you give someone to help them have a long, happy and successful career as a property agent?

I was fortunate enough to be in this position during a speech I gave at the National Federation of Property Professionals Awarding Body’s prestigious ‘Awards Ceremony’ last week.

I chose three matters to focus on…

The first was an observation – ‘never stop educating yourself’.

If there is one certainty in an ever-changing property world, it’s that the more knowledge and skills you have, the more you separate yourself from the herd. You become indispensable to both the public and the profession. This can’t help but lead to a longer, happier and more financially successful property career.

It doesn’t matter where the knowledge comes from. It could be attending a business skills workshop, obtaining a property qualification or simply reading a book. Better still, a little bit of each would be a powerful combination.

The important thing is that this becomes a habit during a career. Regularly educating yourself means you continually develop as an individual to fulfil your own potential and to better serve the customer.

The second thought I shared with the audience was ‘genuinely help your customers’.

If property agents want to survive and flourish in this ultra-competitive profession, the customer needs to be the focus of everything they do.

Henry Ford said: “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” This is as true today as it was then.

This means treating the customer with respect and not as if they were some impersonal entry on a database.

Property agents are not in the retail business. They are in the people business. They don’t sell everyday products like loaves of bread or a bag of apples.

Instead, they are likely dealing with a customer’s most expensive asset. Consequently, the customer needs personal guidance, help if things go wrong, and sometimes just someone to turn to for assurance. What they don’t want is to be treated as if they are buying a bag of sugar or a packet of fish fingers. And, to suggest otherwise is wrong.


Because it can be an emotional time for customers buying, selling, letting or renting property. An agent’s success will come from building long-term relationships with them on an individual basis so that one day the agent’s reputation is so far-reaching it’s attracting an overwhelming amount of business.

If an agent puts the customers’ needs before their own, treats them as individuals, has personal contact with them and genuinely goes the extra mile, then it has been my experience that great things will happen.

The third and final piece of advice I offered was ‘be kind to yourselves’.

Property agents can work in a stressful environment: long hours, a competitive market, dealing with challenging situations and sometimes dealing with equally challenging customers. It can take its toll if you’re not careful.

As property agents I wonder if sometimes we need to remind ourselves that life is a balance of work and play. We deserve to enjoy a little bit of both and be mindful not to let the stress of work ever overshadow life outside the office.

So there you have it – three things I believe can go some way to helping us have a long, happy and successful career as a property agent.

How about you?

What would be your advice?


Paul Jager is head of the property division at MOL, who write the workbooks for the NAEA and ARLA property qualifications and provide a variety of training in property and management.

For more details on these call MOL on 0345 203 2103 or visit their website at www.mollearn.com

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  1. RealisticAgentUK

    What advice would you give someone starting out in agency?

    Get out while you still can – the online wolves are coming…

    1. Disillusioned

      We can only hope that PessimisticAgentUK is not to follow…..

  2. Herb

    Disagree RAUK distance yourself from most UK agents – offer remarkable service – set your fees higher – give better value for money – don’t join the other 99% of UK agents in a downwards spiral of lower fees

  3. smile please

    The above including the story are all good advice but all a bit “Cliche” this is the advice i think all owners should heed if starting up.

    1. Do not under estimate how hard it is to establish yourself – You may have been a “World Beater” in your previous roles but chances are you had an established brand behind you. You will not be seeing half a dozen vals a week when you open.

    2. Set realistic targets – Do not go in with a corporate attitude of 5 instructions a week from your first week. You will loose heart. BUT make sure you do set targets that you hit to help you keep motivated.

    3. BEWARE OF ADVERTISING – This is, in my opinion the biggest. As a business owner you will want your brand and business to grow as fast as possible and you will be inundated in advertising opportunities. 99% OF WHICH WILL BE CR*P. You can burn through your budget very quickly be VERY selective in what / where you advertise.

    4. Staff – if you are hiring staff from day 1 offer a modest basic but very good commission, too many employees are happy yo just turn up and collect the basic, get motivated people that will work hard for the commision / bonuses.

    5. Tread the streets – Still the best way to grow stock if you are not established is good old fashion leaflet drops and i know others hate it but Door knocking. Even if its just to find out why the house down the road did not call you out. You will be surprised at some of the answers and how easy you can change for the future.

    6 Shop around – You can save a small fortune shopping around from stationary to signage. End of the day you are a neg, use your skills! – Dont be proud to buy second hand when setting up as well. Lots of businesses fold inside a year and they are desperate to get rid of desks / chairs etc for a fractions of the price and they are still nearly new.

    7. Cut your cloth accordingly – If you start up and things take off, squirrel the money away. Housing market is up and down. In one of my areas in the last year, two agents have opened up. One in last few weeks have opened a second office (cant be doing more than 100k turnover from current) and second i have seen splashing out on flash cars. However instructions are getting tighter now they are going to be under massive pressure to service the outgoings.

    8. Dont be afraid to pull the plug – If you have invested a lot of time and money in an idea be it service, advertising or even staff. Know when to walk away. None of us like to admit to mistakes but some times you are throwing good money after bad for vanity.

    9. Remember why you started up – If you are having a bad day, just remember why you started in the first place, lots of motivations from this.

    10. Whatever your budget is add 50% – You will have done a business plan showing from month 3/4 you are making money …. You may but you will also have a load of other expenses you did not budget for and they stack up quickly. Example for me was when i opened my first office years back i did not know it was standard to ask for 3 months deposit not a months. This took a chunk out of my opening budget, I also go hammered on Boards, i ordered far too many with posts. Years later i have obviously ordered new boards but never posts!

    11. Fees – By all means buy the market (you need to from day one) but do not forget to increse them after a period. Too many agents sell themselves on cheap fees. You need to to win your first dozen instructions after that sell your service. You do not want to have to list and sell 3 properties to another agents 1 – Its not viable.


  4. Woodentop

    Treat people how you would expect them to treat you. You will only ever get out of it what you put in, so don’t take short cuts or be fooled into believing someone has just come up with the “holy grail” that will do it for you. Always be honest for you will sooner or later be found out!


    Plan, be focused and most off enjoy yourself. It doesn’t then become hard.


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