How to set up an estate agency

Thinking of starting a letting agency? Follow this guide to starting an estate agency business and cash in on the lucrative property market...

Key things to consider when starting an estate agency are:

What is an estate agent?

An estate agent is a wide-ranging title applied to a number of specialisms.

Some estate agents specialise in the residential market, but even then, individual homes vary from studio apartments to mansions with acres of land. Some estate agents specialise in dealing with commercial properties such as office blocks, factories, shops and licensed premises.

Other estate agents deal specifically with lettings and property management, which involves letting property and dealing with all aspects of the let, which includes in many cases the responsibility for the property on behalf of the property owner.

In addition, some estate agents extend their service by offering the specialised knowledge and skills needed to carry out property auctions.

The differences between residential and commercial estate agency are explored on page two.


Useful links:
It may be worth considering seeing if you can get a Start Up Loan (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) to help you with financing, and mentoring to start this business idea.

You'll also need to think about registering your business, either as a sole trader or as a company - if a company, then Smarta Formations (external partner site, link opens in a new tab) are an organisation that can help you set up.


Starting an estate agency: The skills you’ll need

Estate agency is an almost unique form of selling. By starting an estate agency or letting agency, you’re not selling something which belongs to you, but something that represents your client – the property owner.

By starting a letting agency or estate agency, you will be acting as a representative or intermediary between the owner and a possible buyer, using a mixture of your skills to persuade customers to sell and buy.

One of the essential skills of an estate agent is good communication. Estate agency is a ‘people’ business – you have to communicate with many different people – potential buyers and sellers, conveyancers and solicitors for example – and you have to be able to communicate effectively.

A house sale and purchase is usually the largest single purchase that anyone undertakes and is consequently high on the list of the recognised ‘stressors’ in everyday life.

Good communication on the part of the estate agent/letting agent can reduce the stress enormously, make a sale go through more quickly and efficiently and will ensure that customers come back to the agency with more business. This communication might be face-to-face, either in the office or in people’s homes – or it might be by telephone or by letter.

So, the main qualities needed if you’re thinking of starting an estate agency are good communication and interpersonal skills; and the ability to persevere when things are moving slowly or the market is not particularly favourable.

Owning an estate agency can be challenging and rewarding, but there are also times when you’ll find it frustrating even infuriating, but as this is a people business you’ll have to keep your fury to yourself.

Long protracted delays can ensue just after you have done the bulk of your work and the process of legally transferring land and/or property starts. Sometimes cancellations can occur at a very late stage, about which little can be done, and so those to whom a career in ‘selling’ appeals may need to think twice about going into estate agency, as the final results can take some time to achieve.

It’s worth noting that you can start a letting agency from home and you don’t need an office to become a letting agent, as long as you have internet access, a laptop, phone and the ability to travel to visit clients, you can get your letting agency business off the growing.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.