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Real Estate Careers

The real estate job outlook is great because people are buying property domestically, while the wealthy are looking to add to overseas property acquisitions. A career in real estate offers stability since there is and will always be, demand for land or buildings. What is more, it is not necessary for you to have a degree in real estate to create a career in real estate and property, although opportunities increase once you get accredited through a professional body.

What kind of job roles can you target?

Careers in real estate can involve roles such as estate agent, chartered surveyor, and property manager. Real estate agents with authorisation from property owners, carry out selling or renting of property. Depending on your specialisation, you could be a residential real estate agent, who deals in houses, raw land, and flats. Or, you could become a commercial real estate agent, with responsibilities such as selling and renting shops, office spaces, restaurants, theatres, and other commercial property. Some real estate agents also specialise in rural properties, be they homes, land, or farms. People who manage real estate on behalf of owners have responsibilities such as managing tenants, collecting rent, and paying municipal taxes. Surveyors estimate the value of real estate, and also look for flaws that could lead to devaluation. They are often asked to advise investors and builders. With the right qualifications you can target jobs in professional real estate companies, public sector undertakings, and real estate departments of large organisations.

How to get started

If your undergraduate degree is not related to real estate, there is no need for worry. You can still get into a career as a real estate agent, or a surveyor, with the right experience. While some real estate firms do not require that you have a degree in real estate management, other companies do require a degree or accreditation of some sort. It is a good idea to acquire work experience, through internship if required. Your career prospects are brightened if you get a postgraduate diploma or accreditation from recognised bodies such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), National Federation of Property Professionals (NFOPP) or National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), even as you start working with a professional real estate company, starting from an administrative position. Many real estate companies sign up employees for these courses.

Courses in property and real estate

You can choose a bridge course with accreditation from the relevant professional body, or you may aim for a postgraduate degree in the field. Bridge courses, typically known as conversion courses, are offered by many accredited institutions and training providers. There are many specialisations available. There are courses dealing with heritage buildings and sustainability that might be more to your interest, if you are so inclined.

Ten necessary skills

For a career in property and real estate, ask yourself if you have the required skills.

  1. Collecting information -- How well you know the neighbourhood, the property prices in the area, and the value of the property will help you decide on the price and convince people to buy. You will need to take photographs, and you will have to keep an eye out for unique characteristics that can add (or detract) from the value of the property.
  2. Persuasive power -- your marketing skills need to be top-notch to convince prospective buyers to purchase the property. You must also be a first class negotiator, helping close deals by ensuring the seller and buyer can agree on a price.
  3. Networking skills -- while a degree or academic qualification is useful, your networking skills will be even more important in helping you gather information, and find buyers. You will need to interact with sellers, buyers, legal experts, surveyors, and even other real estate agents, to get the best price for the property. Many courses help prospective real estate agents hone their networking and communication skills.
  4. Knowledge of the economy -- the economy has a direct impact on property prices. That is why you will need to learn whatever you can about the economy, and how changes to economic conditions can impact property value. You will also need to be alert to the economic situation. Seminars, short courses, and in house training would help you learn more about this subject.
  5. Understanding of legal aspects -- You need to understand the legality of transactions, so as to ensure that transactions are transparent and also, the property, ownership, and surrounding land are free of legal disputes. Besides laws regarding property purchase and construction you will also need to know the fundamentals of landlord and tenant rights.
  6. Valuation skills -- you will need to estimate the property value correctly, and you will also be asked by owners to offer advice regarding property pricing. Property investors will also ask for your input, and will take that into account when planning property management.
  7. Knowledge of construction techniques -- The materials used, the design, and other features have an impact on property price. Flawed construction can devalue property, and might not be legally tenable. You will need to understand how these issues can affect saleability and value of the property, and advise the buyer and seller accordingly.
  8. Decision making -- you will need to decide on the right time to sell, and if you should wait for a better offer. You will need to take into account factors such as market conditions. Often you will have to decide quickly, before the seller withdraws their offer, or property price falls.
  9. Efficiency -- You would need to be efficient and deadline oriented, and be able to meet sales targets. Productive time management will help you meet your targets.
  10. Investment and property portfolio management -- you would be called upon to manage property on behalf of owners. You would also need to offer recommendations for investment. Your knowledge of market conditions, surroundings, use, and prices will help in this regard.

Online training programmes are available, in addition to in house or on campus courses. These courses will offer certifications in construction project management, business valuation, sustainability, cross border valuation, and rural practice.

Last updated: 17 Dec 2014

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