Brave new world for young estate agents

Greenhorns in the real estate industry may add more value than is immediately apparent.

This is the view of Tjaart van der Walt, CEO of the RealNet property group, who says the relative inexperience of young agents should be seen as an asset, rather than a drawback.

"As newcomers, they were obviously not around during the previous boom period. As a result, we find that they are more prepared than experienced agents to do what is necessary to achieve success during more difficult market conditions, such as the current cycle," he says.

"Young agents have fewer preconceived ideas as they do not rely on previous successes or an established reputation. They are generally also more comfortable with new technology and may be more creative when it comes to fresh marketing concepts and finding alternative solutions to conventional challenges."

He adds, however, that young agents' biggest challenge is to equip themselves with the necessary skills. "They require a diversity of skills such as sales and management skills, and knowledge of issues such as demographics, property law and property finance. This may explain why experienced agents statistically do better than most newcomers - the latest Swanepoel Trends Report, for instance, shows that agents with a minimum of eight years' experience are the most successful.

"Nevertheless, we are convinced that young estate agents have an important role to play. To illustrate: the winner of the 2007 Nedbank sponsored Property Professional Accolade was a youngster by the name of Justin Cohen. Although he was young enough to be his rivals' grandson, his registered property transactions exceeded that of his senior counterparts by far.

"Professionalism - a definite prerequisite of any successful salesperson - is not a function of age and it could very well be easier to cultivate young professionals under the current training requirements than it is to retrain older and more experienced estate agents to become true professionals," he says.

Van der Walt adds that the industry can be a rewarding and financially viable profession for newcomers who have what it takes. "One has to be prepared to work long and uncomfortable hours and has to keep doing the right thing day after day. It is a lucrative profession - but only if you can maintain a truly professional approach at all times. Continuous education is a necessity and one has to surround oneself with only the best partners in the game."

Issued by RealNet

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