Coronavirus Update: Our team is here to help our clients and readers navigate these difficult times. Visit our Resources page now »

Skip to Main Content
April 01, 2009


Working in the Industry

Real estate agent

Real estate agents help buyers and vendors in the process of obtaining or getting rid of residential property. Some agents work with buyers, helping them find places to live and negotiating with vendors, while others work with the vendors. Agents rarely represent both parties, as this is perceived as a conflict of interest. Licensing laws and regulations for realtors vary by state and territory. Some states, such as Queensland, require agents to either pass an exam before receiving their license, or to take some basic courses.

Agents are usually independent sales professionals who contract their services to real estate brokers in exchange for a commission-sharing agreement. The commission on a home sale varies by state and territory, and most states set a maximum percentage that agents can charge. This commission is split four ways: between the vendor's agent, the buyer's agent, and the sponsoring brokers with whom each agent is associated. Many agents work solely on commission, and don't get much in the way of monetary help with the overhead necessary to perform their jobs.

The sales end of real estate attracts all types of personalities. There's a potpourri of career switchers, from lawyers to housewives, who end up in residential real estate. If you like being your own boss and interacting with people, being a realtor can be very rewarding.

There is relatively high turnover in the sector, which results in a fairly constant demand for new entrants. Impediments to growth include the increased use of the internet, which allows people to search for properties that suit their criteria without consulting a professional, similar to the way in which the regular consumer has bypassed travel agents in the tourism industry. The industry is very sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates and to the overall health of the economy, and demand for employees can drop precipitously in the face of a sluggish economy or high interest rates.

Tenant representation agent/business broker

A tenant representation agent, commonly known as a "tenant rep," acts on behalf of companies and other corporate clients looking to lease or buy either a portion of a property or an entire real estate asset. A large part of the job involves business development: because tenant reps are often responsible for building their own book of business, prospecting for new clients is a big part of the job. Although there's some direction by the broker and senior tenant reps in the office, for the most part tenant reps use cold calls to drum up business.

Tenant representation is very competitive, even cutthroat, since one not only has to compete against outside reps but also those inside one's own office. In fact, some tenant rep brokers see the competition inside as being worse than outside the shops. Often there are disputes about who is entitled to chase what business -- though usually the senior brokers win out.

When the time comes for one of his or her clients to buy, sell or lease, the tenant rep finds a list of choices in the market, then handles the accompanying negotiations. Tenant reps usually work in teams to spread the work. Often the team is composed of one senior and one junior broker. The junior broker will make the cold calls and set up meetings with prospective clients. At the meetings, the senior broker will take the lead and try to win the business. Once the process begins, the junior broker will do the legwork for market alternatives and examine options with the senior broker. All possible alternatives are presented to the client for review. The senior broker generally handles the lease or sale negotiations. This mutually beneficial system gives the senior broker a "cold caller" and provides a training platform for the junior broker.

Once junior brokers have surpassed certain earning requirements, they're promoted to senior brokers. They still make cold calls to get leads, though not nearly as often as junior brokers. The company relies on its senior brokers to win business and handle transactions from start to finish. Sometimes, senior brokers help create and execute management policy and even have equity at smaller firms.

Property/facilities management jobs

Real estate owners commonly employ professional property managers, who are charged with the day-to-day management of real estate assets. They ensure that tenants are satisfied, the building is in good condition, rent is paid and that rents reflect market conditions. Property managers get a solid general introduction to real estate, as they deal with a wide variety of issues including leasing, construction, tenant relations and market analysis.

A good manager can save an owner a great deal of money by operating the asset efficiently and keeping the tenants happy. The property manager plays a crucial role in expense control, as the owner relies on him to manage any and all operating expenses at the building. Property management also requires good interpersonal and analytical skills because tenants sometimes can be difficult and expect things to be resolved immediately. While leasing agents do much of the lease negotiations, property managers are involved in the process as well.

Roughly 404,000 people are employed by the facilities management sector in Australia, which accounts for $60 billion in annual turnover.

Land economist

Land economists play a critical role for property development companies. They are responsible for advising companies on property use and administration and may do things as varied as developing and implementing market strategies, collecting and analysing market research to determine risk and project feasibility, negotiating with tenants, and giving advice about methods of selling. Land economists often specialise in a specific area such as commercial, rural, retail, industrial, or research and analysis, though they can be generalists as well. They also coordinate projects to and may manage a team of professionals including architects, financiers, marketers and real estate agents.

Property developer

Property developers do many of the same things as land economists, though it is generally a more senior position and includes higher-level, executive functions. Their duties may include deciding which properties to purchase and develop, directing the sales of existing properties, getting government permits for construction and development, liaising with builders and architects, and planning developments. As being a developer involves sizable risk and responsibility, remuneration for the job is on the high-end of professional positions. You certainly won't be starving if you find yourself in this job role.

Property valuation jobs

Wondering how much an empty warehouse filled with used cloning equipment is worth? Just ask a property valuer. Property valuers determine the worth of land, property, merchandise, and even personal items and artwork. Valuations are made for a number of different reasons including calculating taxes and investment worth, determining sales and rental prices, and figuring out insurance rates. A significant portion of the job involves analysis, consulting with people from a variety of professions and writing reports. Valuers also travel extensively in-country. Similar to land economists, property valuers may specialise in a certain area such as industrial or commercial. According to the government job site, valuers are usually highly qualified.


Filed Under: Job Search
Don't Miss Vault's Newsletter

Career advice, tips, and updates on Covid-19.