How to get it right - first time!

It is no exaggeration to say that the community is littered with those who came into the real estate industry with high expectations but, because of a bad experience early on, left before they even had a chance to fully test out their own potential.  In many cases this bad experience was not with a member of the public but (unfortunately) with their employer . . .

APSA believes that in this industry more than many others, it is better to spend time 'getting the foundation right' - in other words selecting the right employer - than 'jumping in boots and all', only to quickly regret the decision.  Keep in mind that a good real estate agent doesn't automatically make a good employer.  A good real estate agent knows how to list, sell and/or manage property.  A good employer knows how to both manage people and run a business.

In this industry, it's best to find work with someone who's both a good real estate agent and a good employer.  Our assumption is that most people reading this information are looking to build a career out of the real estate industry rather than just 'looking for a job'.  Based on that assumption we have put together some ideas on:

  • Research you can do about potential employers in your vicinity
  • A list of questions to ask a potential employer, to establish whether or not they are worthy of the skills you have to offer.


Research List

Before approaching potential employers:

  • Take a drive around the area you are considering working in.
  • Check out which agents have the most prominent signage.
  • Check out which have the most prominent offices.
  • Read the advertising for agents in your vicinity - local paper, colour magazine, internet, etc.
  • Check out social networking sites
  • What do the signs, window displays, advertising and social networking sites tell you about the agent's effectiveness in the area?


Doesn't the above sound like the recipe for deciding which office to buy, sell or rent through?  Please read on . . .

  • Which offices in the area appear to have a high turnover of salespeople?
  • Which offices have a more stable work force?
  • If a real estate agency doesn't advertise the names of its staff, what does this tell you about the amount of control the employer likes to have versus the trust they are prepared to place in his or her employees?
  • Do you want to be anonymous, or would you like to develop your own identity?
  • Make contact with some current (and former) employees of these offices.
    • Ask them if they'd be prepared to talk to you about how they find Industry.
    • Offer to buy them a coffee in return for a chat.
    • Expect that some will be prepared to talk to you; some will not.
    • Use the knockbacks as practice at getting an appointment and learning to take the "no's".
    • In addition to general industry questions, ask questions about what their office is like to work for, why they've stayed (or why they left), etc.


Questions to Ask

In the employment interview, ask a potential employer questions that will test out a number of things about their quality (or otherwise) as an employer. If the potential employer is open and transparent with you they'll be happy to answer tough questions, this bodes well for a good working relationship.

Someone who doesn't know the answers but offers to find out is potentially OK to work with. On the other hand if they seem to be evasive, or offended at questions being asked, perhaps they are not the right employer for you . . .

Before you ask the questions to some of the legal issues outlined below, make sure you already know the answers:

  • How many staff do you have?
  • Have they been with you long?
  • How much time do you invest in their training?
  • How much time do you expect your staff to invest in training?  [What does this say about the employer's preparedness to help you advance in your new career?]
  • What will my starting wage be?
  • What are my other entitlements (e.g. commission, allowances, annual leave, etc.)?
  • Do you reward higher achievers with better-than-average commissions?
  • What are the office dress standards?
  • Laptop computer - is one required for the position, who pays for its usage?
  • Motor vehicle - is one required for the position, who pays for its usage, what type of insurance cover should I have?
  • Mobile phone - is one required for the position, who pays for its usage?
  • Business cards, name stickers - who pays for them?
  • Who pays for advertising - the client or the salesperson?  [Would you be happy to be held liable if the client doesn't pay?]
  • Hours, work days and rosters - what are the office requirements?
  • Restrictions on future employment - am I restrained from obtaining alternative employment in the industry if I leave this office?
  • If such restraint exists, to what extent?  [Would you be happy to accept this?]
  • Who "owns" the data (especially any personal contact list) I bring in to the business?
  • Can you provide a written undertaking that personal contacts can be taken with me and used elsewhere in the industry if I leave?  [If the employer says NO, are you willing to lose access to your personal contacts if this job doesn't work out?]
  • Can you provide me with a written copy of your policies about allocation of buyer and seller enquiry?
  • Do you compete against your salespeople in the listing and sale of property?
  • Do any members of your family compete against your salespeople in the listing and sale of property?
  • If so, what systems do you have in place to ensure that a fair decision is made over the right of an individual salesperson to deal with a particular buyer or seller that you or your family member may also be dealing with?
  • Prior to commencement of employment, can you provide me with a copy of the employment agreement you want me to sign?  [If they have employed others in this position before, a copy of the previous employee's agreement should be available.  If it isn't available, what does this tell you about the employer's willingness to commit, in writing, to what they promise?]
  • How long after I sign the employment agreement before you expect to receive confirmation it has been registered with QPIR?  [The employer may not know the exact answer, but if they intend complying with the award, they should have some idea.]
  • How soon after I lodge an application with the Office of Fair Trading do you expect it will be before my Certificate of Registration or Real Estate Agent's Licence comes back?
  • What do you suggest I do in the meantime?  [If the employer says anything that involves listing, selling or managing property, be concerned.  Working without a Certificate of Registration or Licence makes you liable for prosecution, and potentially invalidates any professional indemnity cover or Workcover the employer may have, leaving you "out in the cold" if something goes wrong.]


There are many other useful questions to ask, however we trust that you use the information on this page as a starting point to help establish a rewarding and enjoyable real estate career.

If you can think of something we could add to this page, why don't you make a suggestion about how to find the right employer.  And, once you're happily established in the industry, please tell us your story - let us know that this information helped . . .

Questions?  Here are our contact details.

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