There is a perception that estate agents are all highly successful multi-millionaires. The perception is that they make money easily, and the job is easy. Just go around showing houses - how difficult can that be?

ONE of the most frequent questions I am asked is: “How do I become an estate agent?” And my usual tongue in cheek answer is “Why?”

There is a perception that estate agents are all highly successful multi-millionaires. The perception is that they make money easily, and the job is easy. Just go around showing houses - how difficult can that be?

There can be nothing further from the truth than this perception. Estate agency is a difficult job. The hours are long, the income uncertain and the heartaches plenty.

So sometimes, when I see a middle-aged person intending to switch careers to become an estate agent, I am always taken by surprise and a lot of curiosity.

What could have gone wrong with their job, career or life for them to consider a switch to a completely new career, one for which they neither have the training, nor the experience? What would make a person contemplate such a paradigm shift in their lives?

Times are tough. And things are expected to continue to get harder in Malaysia. The prices of goods and services seem to be on an uncontrolled uptrend. Salaries and incomes do not seem to be able to keep pace with this rise.

It is perhaps this set of circumstances that have driven some people to contemplate a switch in career.

Someone must have told them that as an estate agent, you will have the opportunity to have unlimited income. You would be your own boss, decide your own hours and chart your own destiny.

In my younger days, I have had this sales pitch thrown at me by numerous people, usually those in the insurance and direct marketing industry. They tell me how rich I can get, show me examples of people who have made it and pictures of the rich and successful people next to their private planes and yachts.

But I refused to be influenced by promises of quick and unlimited riches. Throughout my entire life, I have been taught that success can only be attained by hard work and continuous dedication to your craft.

But the question remains - can you make it big as an estate agent? The answer is a resounding YES.

I can give you many examples of ordinary people who have made a tremendous success of themselves in the world of real estate agency.

Real estate agency does give you all those things promised. But let’s make it clear here that this level of success comes at a price.

There is no easy path to riches. It comes with a certain level of sacrifice. You will need to be prepared to compromise time with your family, your evenings and weekends and your social life.

On the flip side, you are your own boss and your success and failures are entirely your own.

So how do you get into the world of real estate agency? Practitioners in this business are classified into two categories:

a) Real estate negotiators; and,

b) Real estate agents.

Real estate negotiators are sales people who work for and under real estate agents. The difference between them principally is that estate agents have the necessary academic qualifications and have met the minimum experience, expertise and standards set by the governing board for the industry, the Board of Valuers, Appraisers & Estate Agents, under the purview of the Finance Ministry.

Real estate negotiators, on the other hand, need not have the academic qualifications required for getting registered as estate agents. What they need to do before they can start practising is to get themselves registered with the board as registered real estate negotiators.

Before they do that, they have to attend a two-day course called the Negotiator’s Certification Course.

In this course, they will be taught the basics of estate agency, touching on law, the Valuers, Appraisers & Estate Agents Acts, the Estate Agency Standards etc.

At the end of the two days, they will be awarded a certificate of attendance, which they will need to present to the board before being registered.

Once registered, they will be given a practising tag, which they will have to display prominently during the course of their work day.

To those contemplating a career in real estate, welcome to my world. The challenges are tough, but the rewards and satisfaction more than make up for it. Choose the right agency, choose the right mentor and half the battle is already won.

Good luck and may the force be with you.

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