An estate agent is a professional working in the property market, arranging and facilitating the purchase and sale of both private homes and commercial premises. Part of their job often includes handling properties for rent on behalf of landlords and tenants, although those who specialise in this field are usually referred to more specifically as lettings agents. Most typically, an estate agent handles the marketing side of the property industry before a legal professional takes over to complete the required paperwork to complete the sale.
There are numerous firms of estate agents across the country, some being national chains while others operate in a particular locality, and others function independently. Some have a specialism in handling niche property types, for example luxurious homes, commercial premises, rural land, or overseas properties. Increasingly, estate agents are becoming more involved in the sale of property through auction.
So, what does an estate agent actually do?
An estate agent handles all aspects of putting a property up for sale or for rent. They also assist tenants and purchasers in finding a suitable property that meets their needs. They are often the first port of call when individuals and businesses are considering making a property purchase or sale, and therefore they have extensive knowledge, not only of their local property market but also national trends in the industry.
Their remit encompasses visiting a property in order to carry out a valuation and advising on appropriate market prices. They collect details about the property for sale and arrange for a photographer to take pictures. They also deal with marketing, whether through their own shop window, their website, via newspapers or other avenues of publicity, presenting each property in its best possible light in order to attract attention from potential buyers.
It is an estate agent’s responsibility to liaise with vendors and purchasers in order to arrange viewings, and often, they will themselves be engaged in escorting interested parties around a property. Part of their job description involves dealing with all relevant parties and organisations, including financial institutions, legal professionals and surveyors, as well as the private individuals involved in the purchase and sale. Estate agents are able to discuss requirements with purchasers and offer useful and relevant advice as to the ideal premises. They act as the representative for the seller, acting in their place to promote their property to those interested in buying, negotiating an appropriate and acceptable price for both parties.
If an estate agent is handling lettings, they are usually responsible for finding and vetting prospective tenants on a landlord’s behalf and ensuring that all credit and reference checks have been carried out. They also make certain that health and safety requirements such as gas safety checks are in place and draw up binding legal contracts for tenants. Often, they also act in the role of property manager, making regular visits to check the state of the premises, collecting rent and resolving maintenance issues.