With over 2.2 million people forecasted to be working in the property industry by 2020 (ONS), and new businesses and branches popping up all over the country, today’s young estate agents are presented with more opportunities than ever before.
In a five part series exclusive to Industry Views, EAT goes behind the scenes to investigate why an industry that struggles with its public image remains such an attractive career path for young people.
Whilst some young agents continue down the traditional path, learning on the job and picking up tricks of the trade and trusted old habits from older colleagues, others are choosing to take a different route, one which involves more technological know-how and rigorous training.
What better place to start our six part series focusing on young estate agents than a specialist course dedicated to training the best new agents out there.
The Harlow Holiday Inn Express, 14th July 2014. The latest Estate Agency All-Stars course is about to commence, with nine eager and fresh-faced junior estate agents ready for five days of comprehensive training.
The course, which was founded in March 2013 by Rayner Personnel Managing Director Josh Rayner, aims to find the best junior recruits in the business and equip them with the tools to cope with the fast-paced world of property.
Rayner, who has 10 years’ experience in property recruitment, saw a gap in the market when he spoke to Nick Devonport, MD of Northfields Ealing. Devonport said there was a major problem in the hiring and retention of junior staff.
“An average of 60% of new agents drop out in the first three months,” Rayner explains. “Making the hiring and retention of junior agents a more long-term thing was one of the main motivations behind starting Estate Agency All-Stars.”
The programme’s participants are offered extensive training, something that is not currently available to most new agents. The process aims to give candidates everything they need to do well in the industry, as well as an edge over other new recruits and possibly even agents who have been in the job for years.
Across the five days the course covers what exactly estate agency is and the main processes behind running a successful agency business. It also teaches essential property industry knowledge, good questioning and listening skills, benefit selling, the role of portals, the art of negotiation, how to conduct accompanied viewings, secure offers and handle fee enquiries effectively, and how to book valuation appointments in an exceptional manner. Much of the course is completed on laptops donated by Rightmove, who also come in to train recruits for half a day on Wednesdays.
Estate Agency All Stars attracts people from far and wide. This week, the course has participants from locations as varied as Shropshire, the dales of North Yorkshire, Stratford-upon-Avon and Windsor. Some have been in the job for a year or a few months, others are just starting out. But they all have very similar aspirations, one of which is to be the very best at the job they’ve been given.
John and Charlotte are attending the course from J.R. Hoppers in North Yorkshire. John has been working there for five months and Charlotte for three. They both hope to gain knowledge about the industry as a whole and to be trained to a high standard.
John, a former chef, informs us he is completing a law degree alongside his job as a lettings agent. “The two actually go hand in hand really well. I’m enjoying working in the agency and the degree helps me to understand a lot of the legal processes that estate agents have to deal with. I’m hoping to gain a better knowledge of the industry and the workings of an agency.”
Meanwhile, Charlotte has always had a genuine interest in property and found herself looking for a job at the time J.R. Hoppers was hiring.
“It’s great because everyone knows each other – we know the people, we know what they’re looking for and we’re able to put in time and effort to find it,” she says. “Being on this course has already taught me how the property market and the running of an estate agency differ all over the country, especially in London.”
Elsewhere, ex-commercial property agent Vanessa starts her job at The Frost Partnership in Windsor on the Monday after the course, and is keen to brush up on her knowledge before getting stuck in to Surrey’s intense and competitive property market.
“I have experience letting buildings and land to companies from my last job but this is a completely new concept – I want to take as much as I can out of the course so I can feel comfortable, confident and do the job as best I can when I start.”
With frequent bad press creating an unflattering and mostly negative perception of the estate agent profession, the Estate Agency All Stars course aims to alter this image by ensuring junior agents are well-versed in the basics and nitty-gritty of the industry, whilst also placing a key focus on customer service.
As Charlotte Taylor, the course trainer, says: “I make no apologies for banging on about this, because customer service is the most important thing for all estate agents. Estate Agency All Stars wants all those it trains to offer an exceptional service.”
So what credentials does the Estate Agency All Stars course have to make it the ultimate training venue for junior agents? Concluding with a recap and end of week test, the course currently has a 100% pass rate, and is maintaining a 90% conversion rate and a 98% retention rate, according to Rayner.
“So far, Estate Agents All Stars has successfully trained and placed 150 candidates,” he adds. “The overall aim is to train recruits so they aren’t thrown in at the deep end, thus raising the retention rate of new agents and generating better, well-equipped agents the industry can be proud of.”
As John, Charlotte and Vanessa begin their respective journeys with a sound grounding in the principles of the industry, the emergence of training courses such as Estate Agency All Stars confirms the popularity of this ever-changing profession.