Real Estate and You

When it comes the time for you to buy your home the chances are that you understand very little about buying real estate and so you have to depend greatly on a real estate agent. Considering the responsibility that places on an agent, it is perhaps surprising that real estate agents need no set formal qualifications to become one. Usually a real estate agency will hire people that have no knowledge of real estate and then teach whilst they are on the job.

Of course in some instances, an agency may need an experienced agent but even then are more likely to employ someone due to their experience rather than any formal qualifications they may have. That isn’t to say though that there are not courses for real estate agents, as there are but these courses are usually taken by existing agents in order to further their knowledge.

These courses are usually organized by either the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP) or the National Association of Estate Agents and as they are aimed at existing agents, are usually distance learning courses which allow them to study and take the courses outside of their regular working hours.

Once an agent has established themselves with their agency and is considered capable of looking after a property sale on their own, they will be expected to work unusual hours, often over the weekends and holidays. The reason for this is that with residential properties at least, those are popular times for potential buyers to view houses.

Any commercial properties that the agency may deal with, with more than likely be viewed during working hours. For a person to be employed by an estate agency, although they may not need formal qualifications, the agency will expect them to demonstrate that they are good with numbers and can interact with people in a polite and appropriate manner.

Obviously whilst an agent is learning their trade, they will spend most of their time in the office with occasionally accompanying a more experienced agent on property viewings.

At this time an agent can reasonably expect an annual salary of about £12,000 for a 35 to 40 hour week. That salary will of course increase as they gain experience and can facilitate property sales on their own, unaided.

A lot of an agent’s work is done in the office as they have to ensure all legal documentations and rules are closely adhered to but they also have to either evaluate a property themselves or have it evaluated by an appropriate professional in order to advise their client as to a reasonable asking price for their property.

They must also familiarize themselves with the locations of all the properties on their books so they can answer any questions posed by potential buyers. Just try to imagine what stress this would put each of us through if these agents didn’t exist, as all of these things we would have to do on our own when either buying or selling a property.


Evaluating a Property

If there is a time when you decide you would want to sell your house, although you may know how much you would like for it, your price may be out of date with the country’s economy or the fluctuations of property prices in your area. Although usually a property will increase in value, there are exceptions when a property may actually decrease in value.

Before you publish an asking price it is usual that you would seek professional assistance in evaluating your property’s current worth or, perhaps more importantly, it’s feasible selling price. Usually a real estate agent will be able to evaluate an asking price for your property or, if they can’t, they will certainly know someone that can.

The evaluation will be comprehensive and honest and so I you do not choose to use their evaluation and keep to a higher price you wanted, the chances of quick sale will be remote and, even after some time, you may still have to reduce your asking price in order to stand any chance of selling the property.

The evaluation will take into consideration the current economic status of the country, the popularity of the area and the condition and size of both the building and its grounds.
Although you would obviously like to get back at least the same as what you paid for it, plus a profit; that isn’t always possible and an example of why is this: When you bought your property there were plenty of work opportunities in the area and the neighborhood was considered to be fairly crime free.

Since then though, large businesses have left the area and the jobs have moved with them, leaving it hard to get employment. Also the neighborhood may have become known as an area with a high crime activity.

Usually both these things often occur at the same time, making your area, not exactly ideal for someone to move into. You paid for your house, a price which was appropriate for a popular, crime free area with plenty of job openings and so you may have paid more than anyone is willing to pay today.

One of the factors that may be important to you, is the price you can ask for your old house, compared to the price you will have to pay or your new one.

If you are moving in order to find work, you may have to pay a new mortgage on top of what you receive for your old house but, if you intend to retire, moving to a less popular area may mean that you have change left over after buying your new house.

Often retirees had bought their old house many years ago and ensured it was big enough for a growing family. Now they are retiring and the kids have grown and moved out, they may only need a much smaller house.

In this case, even I they move into a popular area, buying a smaller house than what they are selling, may also leave them some change.


Estate Agents Specializations

Although most estate agents are capable of dealing with all aspects of the business, the more experienced agents anyway, some of them choose to specialize in certain areas of it. Even if an agent did specialize in this way, they would still have a lot of diversity in their work.

For instance, I an agent opted to specialize in residential properties, there are different types of those; there are detached single family residences, semi-detached houses, attached houses, multi-family units, condominiums and co-operative.

The single family detached residence is a building that stands alone and is designed to accommodate just one family unit. A se3mi-detached house, often referred to as a duplex, are two houses built together so that they share one common wall.

Attached houses are houses which share a wall on both sides with another house and these are often referred to as row houses or town houses. Multi-family units are usually buildings with several stories with one family unit on each, referred to as apartments in the US and flats in the UK. Condominiums are similar to flats except they may share common areas such as perhaps a pool, gardens or a meeting/activities room.

Once again co-operatives are similar to flats but in return for paying to be a resident, families receive shares in the building and so it is in all the tenant’s interests, to maintain the building and grounds to a high standard.

Each of these different categories of residential properties may have different rules which apply to the buying and selling of them and the agent, must not only be aware of all these different rules but must also see that they are adhered to whenever a sale or purchase is undertaken.

If the agent preferred to specialize in commercial real estate the categories are of course different. These types of real estate can include hotels, warehouses, shopping arcades or office blocks.
Once again the rules for buying and selling these types of different properties may be different and once again it is the estate agents job to know those rules and see that they are adhered to whilst making a sale.

The last specialization a real estate agent may opt for is a property manager. Some property investors will buy housing especially to rent it out, hopefully making a profit even before they eventually re-sell it.

These investors are only interested in the value of the property and what profits it can make them, not the day to day routine of being a landlord. For this reason, many of these investors will hire real estate agents to be their property managers, acting on their behalf.

Obviously an agent tasked with being a property manager will have to familiarize themselves with any rules that may apply to that position but generally means they will responsible for collecting any rents and overseeing the proper maintenance of the property. If an agent does not specialize, they will be expected to keep abreast of all the rules relevant to all the different categories of real estate.