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New blood new business

Bring on the youngsters! says Sheila Manchester.

Sheila Manchester

Recruitment imageIt’s a contrary business, estate agency. Just a few years ago employers were making redundancies, but in the last month but now the refrain is “I just can’t get the staff!’

Business consultant Adam Walker says part of the issue is that nobody promotes estate agency as a career. “Other professions are more positively portrayed, vets had James Herriot, barristers had Kavanagh QC – we have fly on the wall documentaries designed to make them look shifty and stupid.” He has a point. However, this month alone I have received 15 calls or emails from young people looking for a job in estate agency. Even with the internet at their fingertips and 18,000 agencies, they are frustrated by the difficulty in getting an interview – let alone that tantalising first step on a career ladder.

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future,” Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you Google ‘Career in estate agency’ the National Careers Service takes top ranking. The dry description of the work of an estate or letting agent certainly wouldn’t have floated my boat when I was a young job seeker.

The next listings are recruitment sites and a few corporates offering trainee positions, then the NAEA estate agency qualifications – well done NAEA, the link is to pages explaining the qualifications available through the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP) Awarding Body. This is great for estate agents but it doesn’t help the school leaver get a job.

The better news is that the corporates offer a warm welcome for trainees; Your Move’s listing whisks you to a bright career section which explains job roles, making them interesting and accessible. You can also look and apply for a job. Countrywide’s link has lots of corporate information, which may scare the faint hearted, but an impressive list of opportunities.

Among the larger independents with Google rankings (thus, the ones to which new recruits will apply) Romans has a great careers page, with a friendly video of real staff, saying why they like working there and how they have built their careers – really appealing. Cubitt & West and Frost Partnership also have welcoming and useful websites and details of available positions.


Another way into estate agency is the time honoured apprenticeship route, which went out of vogue in the 80s, when youngsters wanted real money from day one. However, in recent austere times, wise parents pushed their children out to work – any work.

And guess what? They really liked it! Apprenticeships are now a key part of recruitment and training for some agencies, including Abbotts in Felixstowe, who recruited 19 year old Jason Lewis through the training provider Positive Outcomes. Jason said, “With no qualifications an apprenticeship is the only way I could get into estate agency, it has given me the chance to do the job I have always wanted.”

Beresfords, operating across the east of England and parts of London, has had so much success with its apprenticeships that it is expanding its programme. Paul Beresford, Managing Director says, “We have a very clear expansion strategy and part of being able to achieve this is hiring the right staff. Our apprenticeship scheme has been hugely successful in attracting bright, young, talented people.”

So, in times of slow markets and tight budgets, this is the time to bring on the youngsters – they are your future!

Case Study

Sarah seizes the day

Sarah Ballard & father image

Sarah Ballard & father

A former apprentice seized the day when the franchise of the estate agency where she worked came up for grabs. Sarah Ballard was just 24 when she successfully applied to run the Bingham branch for Newton Fallowell (now part of Belvoir). Two years later she opened a second branch in Mapperley.

Sarah joined Newton Fallowell as an apprentice at 18, within a few years she was promoted to office manager. When the franchise opportunity came, her father joined her as a sleeping partner.

Sarah said, “I used my savings and some help from my Dad. I had a good knowledge to build on and knew that head office would take away a number of potential headaches, such as payroll, website, marketing etc., leaving me free to focus on the business.

“When I decided to open a second branch, the franchise team helped with research, found the premises and negotiated the lease.”

In Bingham, Newton Fallowell is now ranked in the top three estate agents and having turned a profit in year one at Bingham, Sarah’s aim is break-even for year one in Mapperley, “I’m looking at what happens next, I hope to find the right spot to expand into another area of Nottingham.”

October 9, 2015

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