Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents provide an essential service in finding and bringing together the sellers and buyers of all types of immovable property including houses, farms, factories, workshops, shops and offices.

Their work begins with a mandate from a seller or a buyer. A mandate is usually a written instruction to find a buyer or a seller for a specified property within an expected price range and by a defined time or date. A first priority would be to establish a fair market value for the seller’s property.

Reputable estate agents are also required to discuss and put together the most effective marketing plan for the seller’s property. To do this estate agents need the full and honest cooperation of the sellers.

Estate agents, when offering or advertising a property for sale, point out the merits and strong selling features of such a property including, in particular, its location, the current state of repair of the property and, most importantly, the likely market value of the property.

In negotiations with prospective buyers, estate agents must always adopt an objective approach and find out precisely what the particular buyer requires and if they would be able to meet their financial obligations for the property of their choice.

Estate agents sometimes obtain lists of properties for sale by following leads obtained through newspaper advertisements, the Internet and personal contacts. Once a property is listed, estate agents familiarize themselves with the property and interview potential buyers to determine their needs in the hope of matching them to a suitable property.

Once a buyer has decided to buy a certain property the agent negotiates a price and terms acceptable to both buyer and seller. They help to arrange a mortgage or other method of payment with a bank or building society for the seller and do the follow-up work to ensure that the transactions run smoothly. Estate agents usually work on a commission basis on the sale of a property.

In finding buyers estate agents must, especially where houses are concerned, determine buyers’ requirements with regard to such important aspects as schools, universities or universities of technology, churches, shops, public transport and recreation. Estate agents need to know about the zoning of undeveloped land in close proximity to the property being marketed.

In most instances estate agents act as negotiators between sellers and buyers and will bring about agreement as to the price, date of occupation and many other factors that must be agreed upon. All such items of agreement are defined in a written “Offer to Purchase” or a “Contract of Sale”. This contract will be submitted to an attorney, usually the seller’s attorney, who will attend to the legal aspects of the sale and arrange for transfer of ownership of the property from the seller to the purchaser.

In addition estate agents also perform many other administrative functions, including the completion of application forms for bank or building society bonds, liaising with conveyancing attorneys and other similar duties. This is one of the few professions where earnings are by way of fees or commissions and are only paid on finalisation of the transaction or registration process. If the transaction fails no commission is paid.

Personal Requirements

  • flair for business and good head for figures
  • enthusiastic, persuasive and persistent
  • self-disciplined and motivated
  • good people-handling and communication skills
  • high integrity
  • good memory
  • able to handle disappointment
  • in good health and neat, well-groomed appearance

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • No specific educational requirements
  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

All estate agents must be registered with the Estate Agents Board and every agent so registered is issued with a Fidelity Fund Certificate. To gain full status as estate agent all newcomers must participate in the Estate Agents Board Examination that arranges courses at the main cities throughout the year.

A possible alternative is to work for a period of one year as a “candidate” under the supervision and control of a qualified estate agent. After completion of this year the “candidate” agent will be certified as an estate agent without the need to write an examination. During this one-year learning period, the “candidate” estate agents may not act as head or partner in an estate agency. They may only operate under the active supervision and control of qualified estate agents.

Degree: A BTech in Real Estate is offered at UNISA

Diploma: N.Dip: Real Estate or Property Marketing - UNISA

Various organisations, such as the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa, the National Property Academy and many educational colleges offer courses, including correspondence courses, in all aspects of property salesmanship.


  • real estate agencies
  • property developers
  • self-employment, with enough experience, registration and capital, can open and operate own estate agency

Further Information

Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa
10 Howard Studios
Sheldon Way
Pinelands, 7405
Tel: (012) 531-2074

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in a real estate agency
  • make an appointment to speak to an estate agent about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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