Real Estate Agent - How to enter the job
Māngai Hoko Whare/Whenua
Real estate agents arrange the sale of properties and help buyers find suitable properties.
Pay for real estate agents varies as they are usually paid on commission.
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
Pay for real estate agents varies as they are usually paid on commission. This is usually a percentage of the price the house sells for.
According to Census data, the average income for real estate agents in 2013 was $83,000.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Real estate agents may do some or all of the following:
- find out what buyers want, and find properties to suit them
- contact people to see if they want to sell their property
- talk with clients who have property to be sold
- research and calculate the value of properties
- advertise properties for sale
- arrange open homes
- organise and negotiate property sales and contracts
- organise building inspections and reports.
Skills and knowledge
Real estate agents need to have knowledge of:
- market trends and property values
- finance, basic accounting, and business contracts
- the area they are selling or leasing properties in, and different types of housing
- property and trading laws.
Real estate agents:
- may work long and irregular hours, including weekends and evenings
- are based in offices
- travel locally to homes, factories and businesses that are for sale.
What's the job really like?
Valerie Couper - Real Estate Agent
A job that gets you out, and work that comes in waves
Becoming a real estate agent was a lifestyle choice for Valerie Couper. "I like the flexibility of it," she smiles.
Valerie also likes the mix of office work and getting out and about. "I try to get the administration done in the morning and make appointments in the afternoons, so that gets me out of the office."
She says work can come in waves. "You can be run off your feet one day and the next day it all goes quiet. It’s very up and down."
Listening to what people want is essential
Valerie says that you need to be prepared to listen to what people want. "For most people their property is their largest asset and decisions about buying and selling can be very stressful. You need to hear their concerns while also helping them move forward."
She says it can be tough sometimes. "I do feel that I have a responsibility to vendors. It’s a huge responsibility to try and get their property sold."
But overall Valerie finds her job very rewarding. "The best thing is meeting great people and finding them a really nice property."
- Seeing people excited about their new homes.
- Spending time out of the office, at properties.
- Unpredictable pay, as earnings rely on commission.
- Being called on to work at any hour, on any day of the week.
Ravi finds out about working as a real estate agent - 8.55 mins ( Video courtesy of Dave Mason Productions)
Clinton: Ravi has headed to Mt Albert, Auckland, to the offices of Anne Duncan Real Estate. He’s going to learn about the job of selling houses, and also about the job of a property manager.
Anne: Morning Ravi, Anne Duncan. How are you?
Ravi: Hi, I’m good! How are you?
Anne: Good, good.
Anne: We need to have you looking a little bit more like these guys, so let’s get inside and see if we can dress you up.
Clinton: Anne Duncan is the owner of the business. She’s going to introduce Ravi to the job and to some of her staff.
Anne: I just love listing and selling real estate. That’s my thing – just put me in front of a buyer and a seller, auction night is a buzz – I’m just charged. I love it.
Clinton: And now Ravi’s looking the part, he’s ready to learn more.
Clinton: Anne introduces him to sales team Jamie Morrison…
Jamie (On phone): Yeah look, just ringing because we’ve received the photographs through from your property.
Clinton: …and his assistant Theo Thrasy.
Clinton: There are many administrative jobs in the office to be learnt.
Theo: The website that we use is called “Campaign Track” and it helps us design everything online.
Clinton: But what the job is really all about, is getting out and matching people with a home they will be happy with.
Anne: If you don’t get past go, you’re not going to collect 200, are you? You know, I say to the guys, every time there is an appraisal; it’s like a job interview. You’ve got to go out there and sell yourself, sell your company. If they don’t like you, you’re just not going to get there, are you?
Clinton: Ravi’s being briefed how to conduct an appraisal. A prospective buyer will be on the doorstep soon.
Jamie: So Ravi, the people no doubt will be asking some questions when you’re in the home, the most important thing is if you don’t know the answer to the question, say that you’ll find out.
Jamie: I do spend a huge amount of time on my phone, on average per month, upwards of 3000 minutes, but that’s directly related to the number of sales that I would achieve in a month.
Clinton: After Ravi’s had a whistle stop tour, his prospective buyer is here.
House buyer: Hi!
House buyer: I’ve just come to have a look through.
Ravi: Come on in!
House buyer: Ok.
Ravi: One thing that I really like about this house is that it’s well-positioned and it really gets good late-afternoon sun, which is really good for entertaining people, yeah.
Jamie: Essentially, you need to feel confident when dealing with people, you need to be happy working seven days a week. It’s one of the few jobs out there that is directly related to performance, so if you’re putting in the hours, you’re performing well, then you’ll get remunerated in regards to your efforts.
Clinton: Residential agents are almost always paid on commission whereas property management agents are paid a salary. Des Ryder is a property manager and he has an assistant too - its Theo’s brother, Carlos.
Des: My lifestyle – I prefer property management. I like to have the freedom of my weekends and also not having afterhours work so much – I do have some after-hours emergency calls but in general I’ve got the weekends free for family and things like that.
Clinton: The team are doing an inspection of a rental before the tenants move in. A detailed list of the condition of the property is made.
Des: So, it basically just goes room to room, door to door. So the first thing I’ll check is things like doors…
Des: It’s a very varied job. So I can be like this morning, we went out and checked the water meter to just see if it was leaking, I can be doing bond inspections when people have left, I can be showing houses. The great thing is about talking to people, so you’re not just sitting in an office, you’re out and about.
Clinton: Real Estate agents have to work within a legal framework that protects consumers, so learning about legislation that relates to the job, is important.
Clinton: The Skills organisation is the Industry Training Organisation that offer a range of qualifications for exciting careers in Real Estate.
Annette: At the Skills Organisation, we offer two qualifications in Real Estate and Residential Property Management. The first one is the National Certificate in Sales Person (Level 4) – this is a critical certificate to obtain if you want to sell real estate or work in the real estate industry. The second one is the New Zealand Certificate in Residential Property (Levels 3 & 4). These qualifications offer you the ability to work in the residential management.
Clinton: An important part of any marketing campaign is the chance for the public to view the property - the Open Home…
Clinton: …and sometimes there’s a few last-minute tidy ups before the potential buyer’s arrive.
Clinton: Ravi’s doing the doorstep meet and greet, and taken down the visitors details.
Jamie: Hi guys, how are you? Good.
Jamie: So for me, a big part of the job is etiquette - some people have natural etiquette when it come sot dealing with people, other people pick it up more slowly than others but it’s very important about how to treat people, how to listen to them and how to understand what’s actually important for other people.
Clinton: And Ravi’s definitely getting the right idea, he’s right in the thick of it, and enjoying himself.
Open-homer: How big is the section out there?
Clinton: It’s all about clinching the deal. In the real estate agent world, no deal means no pay.
Clinton: For Jamie and Ravi, their efforts have paid off. A client’s made the decision to buy.
Jamie: And what level of offer were you considering making today?
Home buyer: $550,000.
Jamie: $550,000? Ok, that’s great.
Jamie: It’s so challenging – you meet someone, you build a rapport, you think everything is going well, you’re just about to get the deal signed, and then all of a suddenly, something changes. But if you love the challenge of being out there, pitching yourself and working with people and dealing with sometimes difficult personalities, then it’s definitely a job for you.
Clinton: Over 12,000 real estate professionals are members of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand. Helen O’Sullivan is the Chief Executive Officer.
Helen: First and foremost, you’ve got to be prepared to work hard. This is a great industry, it is however a very challenging industry and you’ve got to be prepared to put in the hard yards but you also have to have a work ethic and a commitment to professionalism. I would absolutely recommend that newcomers to the industry join an agency that is a member of the Real Estate Institute, apart from access to our Advisory Services Library and a lot of the guidance that we provide to members, they will also have access to the statistics, the most up-to-date data at what the market is transacting at right now, which is a key requirement for them when they’re acting in a quickly moving market.
Jamie: Yeah, so I’m very impressed with Ravi, he seems very keen and I think one of the most important things in real estate is to have a great attitude and work hard, so I’m sure he will do really well.
Ravi: It was really great, it was really, really interesting and I’m really thankful for the experience. It was a lot more than I thought it would be and it was a lot more than, like there was a lot of stuff to do and everything – it was great!
Clinton: A good understanding of relevant legislation is essential. The Skills Organisation offer qualifications designed to put you at the front of your profession. A National Certificate in Real Estate is available that provides the skills to conduct legal property transactions. Qualifications available are The National Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson) (Level 4), The New Zealand Certificate in Residential Property Management (Level 3) and The New Zealand Certificate in Residential Property Management (Level 4).
To become a real estate agent you must be licensed with the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA). This requires you to have one of the following qualifications:
- National Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson) – Level 4
- National Diploma in Real Estate (Agent) – Level 5
- National Certificate in Real Estate (Branch Manager) – Level 5.
You may also be eligible for a licence if you have completed a comparable university degree, such as a property degree.
Real estate agents must also:
- be over 18
- have a driver's licence and their own car.
- Real Estate Agents Authority website - list of required and comparable qualifications for real estate agents
- The Skills Organisation - find training options
Useful school subjects include English, maths, and economics.
Real estate agents need to be:
- positive and persistent
- excellent at listening and communicating
- skilled at selling and negotiating
- motivated and self-disciplined
- honest, trustworthy and able to keep information private
- patient and helpful
- good at planning and organising, with an eye for detail.
Useful experience for real estate agents includes:
- sales work
- public relations experience
- any work involving contact with people.
A technical background in building or design may also be useful.
Real estate agents must have a neat and tidy appearance.
Real estate agents must be licensed with the Real Estate Agents Authority.
Find out more about training
- The Skills Organisation
- 0508 547 557 - www.skills.org.nz
- The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ)
- (09) 356 1755 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.reinz.co.nz
Check out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
Opportunities for real estate agents are influenced by the volume of house sales and listings. As of December 2014, sales volumes increased, but the number of listings fell to the lowest in two years.
However, the number of licensed real estate agents continued to increase slightly between 2012 and 2014.
Any growth will depend on the future strength of the housing market, which is uncertain.
Most real estate agents are self-employed
Real estate agents work for agencies, which can be independent, or franchises of real estate chains.
According to Census data, almost 75% of all real estate agents were classed as self-employed in 2013.
- National Business Review,'NZ House Sale Prices, Volumes Climb in December', January 15 2015, (www.nbr.co.nz)
- Real Estate Agents Authority, 'Licensing volumes 30 June 2012 – 30 June 2014', 2014.
- Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, 'August Real Estate Idling', 12 Sep 2014, (www.reinz.co.nz).
- Reserve Bank of New Zealand, 'Update on the New Zealand Housing Market', 9 May, 2014, (www.rbnz.govt.nz).
- Statistics New Zealand, ‘Census of Population and Dwellings’, 2013 (www.stats.govt.nz).
- Unconditional Blog, 'Inventory of homes for sale falls while asking prices remain high', January 2015, (www.unconditional.co.nz).
Progression and specialisations
With experience and further education, real estate agents can progress to become branch or real estate franchise managers.
Real estate agents may specialise in selling residential, commercial, or rural properties.
Last updated 12 January 2016