How I Became an Estate Agent in the UK

By: Matt Giggs | December 2, 2023

Today, I want to talk about how I became an estate agent, but before I get started, you need to know I was not an overnight success. There was a lot of hard work, determination, doubt and fear, and some really good strategy. These are the things that we're going to look at today.

As I mentioned in my last post, you should not become an estate agent in the UK if it's about earning a ton of cash in year one. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many rewards from this career which I've experienced over the 28 years of doing it. But you've just got to be patient at first.

Over the 28 years that I've been an estate agent, I’ve been a trainee, a junior, a manager, and a director. Now, I've got my own estate agency and I coach business owners in this industry to scale their businesses, too. So if you’re an estate agent or an estate agency business owner, and you're looking to scale your business without the sleaze, or you just want to find out more about how the industry actually works, read on and be sure to subscribe to my blog.

Trainee Estate Agent

Though I was barely twenty when I started in this industry, I still can’t quite believe I’ve been an estate agent for 28 years. When I look back, I recall certain moments that really shaped my career. Doing this helps me understand what I was doing that really worked, as well as what really didn’t work.

Early success:

Like most people, when I was new I did what I was told. I can see now there was definitely a method in the corporate world that focused on trying to close sales and push people for viewings and appointments.

We'd have sessions where you'd be “punting”, as they called it, and you’d be told “to drive up the volume”, and all this kind of stuff.

That didn’t sit right for me. Doing that stuff meant going against what was internally telling me how I needed to operate. I instinctively felt that instead of trying to get lots of viewings by booking people to view properties that absolutely didn't meet their needs, it’d be better to first understand what their needs were. Then I could find the property that matched.

The senior guys noticed. Remember, this was really early days and I was so young. I’d just got my driving licence and the regional manager had helped me get a loan - that was incredible and I owe him a debt of gratitude. So, just six months into this journey, I remember getting a call from a guy who was much longer in the tooth than I was at the time who wanted to know how I was doing so well.

He’d actually called to ask, “How come you're getting so many completions?” He knew that I was new. He knew that I'd never done it before, and now thinking back on that call I see that I didn't even know back then what I was doing that was working.

Helping you learn what works

I didn’t know what was working then, but I know now. That's why I'm here teaching you.

I know now that if you become authentic and really interested in what your client really truly needs, and understand that, you move into a different place. You move into a place that most other agents aren’t ready to explore. You understand that first you really need to give time.

You need to give your time, focus, and attention to your client because the more you understand them, the more you're going to find the answers and the solutions they’re looking for.

At the beginning, I really wanted to please people. That was my main value. I loved recognition. I loved people to say, “Well done. You've done a great job.” So for me reviews, or as we called them then, testimonials, brought the praise I wanted.

Now, I see that pleasing people and being a high achiever was one thing, but doing it the right way was definitely another. As I think across my journey, especially my early years, I see how I made such a success of it in the earlier years, but also where it went wrong.

It went wrong when I moved away from my values and desire to please and understand my clients, and into numbers - trying to get deals and push teams to produce results. It became a struggle. I stopped enjoying it so much, and I kind of ended up resenting it a little bit.

I can see now that I resented it because by focusing on numbers and sales, we were no longer gearing up to really help people. Fundamentally, that's what you've got to focus on if you're going to be a successful real estate agent in this country.

You've got to really truly want to help people. When you do that, you help yourself and meet your needs too.

The heart of success as an estate agent is conversation

Obviously, a lot has changed over the years, but the fundamentals really haven't. That’s why I still talk about them now. The key is understanding that the heart of succeeding as an estate agent is in conversation.

You need to understand this is still true even though we’re living in a digital world. We’re in an age where everyone's trying to push people down a path of clicks and emails and texts from WhatsApp and all of these different things. I even find myself doing it sometimes, but when I think back about some of the sales that I’ve made, some of the results that I’ve achieved, I see they were all down to brilliant conversations.

My sales and success were down to just understanding people, and really building that connection.

Looking back, it’s clear that being in the car with my clients wasn't a disadvantage. It was a benefit because when we were in the car together, we were able to talk. We talked about the area we were driving around and what they'd done before. About which houses they'd gone and looked at, and what drew them to this one. It was through these discussions that I really started to understand my clients more and more.

Successful estate agents understand their clients

So on to reason number three: you want everything to be easy and comfortable - all the time. You don't actually like problem solving. You don't like challenges. You don't like “situations”. You don't like to feel outside your comfort zone.

If this sounds like you, you are going to hate being a real estate agent. Full stop.

Again, if you don’t like to solve problems and meet challenges, you are going to hate this industry.

Every day of being a real estate agent means dealing with situations as they come - good and bad. You’ll start the day by tying up a sale. Then the phone rings, and you learn a sale has just fallen through. There is a problem over here. Someone's not happy over there. All day, every day, you are thrown into pressure situations.

To thrive in this industry, you've got to have the ability and the resilience to really break through and really understand that pressure is such a big part of what you're going to do day to day. So if you want the easy life when you think it’s all about opening doors for prospective buyers, think again, it's not. You must enjoy problem solving and meeting challenges to thrive as a real estate agent.

Most estate agents waste 95% of their time

As an estate agent coach, agencies ask me to train their staff. When I go in, we sit down and someone takes a call. I hear the client say they want to look at a certain property, or an email comes in along the same lines, and straightway they book it in and off they go to the property. And guess what? 95% of the time, they don’t want to buy it.

So 95% of their time out there holding appointments are with people who aren’t going to buy the properties that they’re viewing.

What's the point right? Spend more time understanding your customer’s needs.

Estate agents are matchmakers

Once you really understand your customer’s needs, if you haven't got the solution for them available to you in your office on the market, at that precise moment in time, I bet one of your competitors does. Or you might be able to find somebody that you've worked with before that you can link them to right now.

The way I understand this business is that it is about matching people up. It’s about opportunity spotting. It’s about understanding customers, and then really taking them to the place where their heart and head will be solidified.

Because how many times do you show someone a house and they fall in love, but the next thing you know they don't want to buy it? Two or three weeks later they get buyer's remorse.

They change their mind because the logic didn't justify the emotion. For me, an estate agent’s got to bring both to the table. They've got to really understand the why and the how - the emotion and the logic. That's what I really did back in my earlier days to see that early success.

Putting the ‘real’ in real estate agent

Somehow I knew how estate agency really worked without even knowing how it really worked. You know I look back now and go “how the hell did I do that?” I did it because it was natural.

The reason I've put real estate agent is because you've got to be you first. The moment you step outside of your authenticity or start to try and be someone you’re not is when you really disconnect. You’re almost putting a barrier up between you and your client.

If you’re going to take anything from reading my blog posts, it needs to be the importance of really understanding who you really are, and if you're going to be in this industry, you've got to really understand that it’s your job to understand the client.

You need to speak their language. You cannot expect them to speak your language. And you’ve got to give people time to understand.

Do the investment piece right at the front end. Spend more time understanding, and then you'll spend less time wasting their time and yours moving forward. You're going to help people to move into the right properties, rather than maybe show a little bit of interest in the wrong ones.

If you take anything away, take that and use it. Invest time in those front end conversations, so you really understand your client.

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