Real Estate Agent
Māngai Hoko Whare/Whenua
Real estate agents arrange the sale of properties and help buyers find suitable properties.
Pay rates for real estate agents vary as they are usually paid on commission.
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2017.
Pay for real estate agents varies as they are usually paid on commission. This is usually a percentage of the price a house sells for, and is negotiated with the client before the house is put on the market.
According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the average income for real estate agents is about $79,000 a year.
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Occupation Outlook – Real Estate Salespeople', 2017.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Real estate agents may do some or all of the following:
- find properties to suit buyers
- cold call people to see if they want to sell their property
- help clients sell their property
- research and calculate the value of properties
- advertise properties for sale online or in brochures
- arrange open homes
- organise and negotiate property sales and contracts
- organise building inspections and reports.
Skills and knowledge
Real estate agents need to have knowledge of:
- effective sales techniques
- market trends and property values
- mortgage financing, basic accounting, and business contracts
- the location they are selling or leasing properties in, and different types of housing
- property and trading laws.
Real estate agents:
- may work long and irregular hours, including weekends and evenings
- are based in offices
- travel locally to homes, factories and businesses that are for sale.
What's the job really like?
Ravi finds out about working as a real estate agent - 8.55 mins. ( Video courtesy of Dave Mason Productions)
Clinton: Ravi has headed to Mt Albert, Auckland, to the offices of Anne Duncan Real Estate. He’s going to learn about the job of selling houses, and also about the job of a property manager.
Anne: Morning Ravi, Anne Duncan. How are you?
Ravi: Hi, I’m good! How are you?
Anne: Good, good.
Anne: We need to have you looking a little bit more like these guys, so let’s get inside and see if we can dress you up.
Clinton: Anne Duncan is the owner of the business. She’s going to introduce Ravi to the job and to some of her staff.
Anne: I just love listing and selling real estate. That’s my thing – just put me in front of a buyer and a seller, auction night is a buzz – I’m just charged. I love it.
Clinton: And now Ravi’s looking the part, he’s ready to learn more.
Clinton: Anne introduces him to sales team Jamie Morrison…
Jamie (On phone): Yeah look, just ringing because we’ve received the photographs through from your property.
Clinton: …and his assistant Theo Thrasy.
Clinton: There are many administrative jobs in the office to be learnt.
Theo: The website that we use is called “Campaign Track” and it helps us design everything online.
Clinton: But what the job is really all about, is getting out and matching people with a home they will be happy with.
Anne: If you don’t get past go, you’re not going to collect 200, are you? You know, I say to the guys, every time there is an appraisal; it’s like a job interview. You’ve got to go out there and sell yourself, sell your company. If they don’t like you, you’re just not going to get there, are you?
Clinton: Ravi’s being briefed how to conduct an appraisal. A prospective buyer will be on the doorstep soon.
Jamie: So Ravi, the people no doubt will be asking some questions when you’re in the home, the most important thing is if you don’t know the answer to the question, say that you’ll find out.
Jamie: I do spend a huge amount of time on my phone, on average per month, upwards of 3,000 minutes, but that’s directly related to the number of sales that I would achieve in a month.
Clinton: After Ravi’s had a whistle-stop tour, his prospective buyer is here.
House buyer: Hi!
House buyer: I’ve just come to have a look through.
Ravi: Come on in!
House buyer: OK.
Ravi: One thing that I really like about this house is that it’s well-positioned and it really gets good late afternoon sun, which is really good for entertaining people, yeah.
Jamie: Essentially, you need to feel confident when dealing with people, you need to be happy working seven days a week. It’s one of the few jobs out there that is directly related to performance, so if you’re putting in the hours, you’re performing well, then you’ll get remunerated in regards to your efforts.
Clinton: Residential agents are almost always paid on commission whereas property management agents are paid a salary. Des Ryder is a property manager and he has an assistant too – it's Theo’s brother, Carlos.
Des: My lifestyle – I prefer property management. I like to have the freedom of my weekends and also not having afterhours work so much – I do have some after-hours emergency calls but in general I’ve got the weekends free for family and things like that.
Clinton: The team are doing an inspection of a rental before the tenants move in. A detailed list of the condition of the property is made.
Des: So, it basically just goes room to room, door to door. So the first thing I’ll check is things like doors…
Des: It’s a very varied job. So I can be like this morning, we went out and checked the water meter to just see if it was leaking, I can be doing bond inspections when people have left, I can be showing houses. The great thing is about talking to people, so you’re not just sitting in an office, you’re out and about.
Clinton: Real estate agents have to work within a legal framework that protects consumers, so learning about legislation that relates to the job, is important.
Clinton: The Skills Organisation is the industry training organisation that offers a range of qualifications for exciting careers in real estate.
Annette: At the Skills Organisation, we offer two qualifications in Real Estate and Residential Property Management. The first one is the National Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson) (Level 4) – this is a critical certificate to obtain if you want to sell real estate or work in the real estate industry. The second one is the New Zealand Certificate in Residential Property (Levels 3 and 4). These qualifications offer you the ability to work in the residential management.
Clinton: An important part of any marketing campaign is the chance for the public to view the property – the open home…
Clinton: …and sometimes there’s a few last-minute tidy-ups before the potential buyers arrive.
Clinton: Ravi’s doing the doorstep meet and greet, and taking down the visitors' details.
Jamie: Hi guys, how are you? Good.
Jamie: So for me, a big part of the job is etiquette – some people have natural etiquette when it come to dealing with people; other people pick it up more slowly than others but it’s very important about how to treat people, how to listen to them and how to understand what’s actually important for other people.
Clinton: And Ravi’s definitely getting the right idea, he’s right in the thick of it, and enjoying himself.
Open-homer: How big is the section out there?
Clinton: It’s all about clinching the deal. In the real estate agent world, no deal means no pay.
Clinton: For Jamie and Ravi, their efforts have paid off. A client’s made the decision to buy.
Jamie: And what level of offer were you considering making today?
Home buyer: $550,000.
Jamie: $550,000? OK, that’s great.
Jamie: It’s so challenging – you meet someone, you build a rapport, you think everything is going well, you’re just about to get the deal signed, and then all of a sudden, something changes. But if you love the challenge of being out there, pitching yourself and working with people and dealing with sometimes difficult personalities, then it’s definitely a job for you.
Clinton: Over 12,000 real estate professionals are members of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand. Helen O’Sullivan is the chief executive officer.
Helen: First and foremost, you’ve got to be prepared to work hard. This is a great industry. It is, however, a very challenging industry and you’ve got to be prepared to put in the hard yards but you also have to have a work ethic and a commitment to professionalism. I would absolutely recommend that newcomers to the industry join an agency that is a member of the Real Estate Institute. Apart from access to our advisory services library and a lot of the guidance that we provide to members, they will also have access to the statistics, the most up-to-date data at what the market is transacting at right now, which is a key requirement for them when they’re acting in a quickly moving market.
Jamie: Yeah, so I’m very impressed with Ravi, he seems very keen and I think one of the most important things in real estate is to have a great attitude and work hard, so I’m sure he will do really well.
Ravi: It was really great. It was really, really interesting and I’m really thankful for the experience. It was a lot more than I thought it would be and it was a lot more than, like there was a lot of stuff to do and everything – it was great!
Clinton: A good understanding of relevant legislation is essential. The Skills Organisation offers qualifications designed to put you at the front of your profession. A National Certificate in Real Estate is available that provides the skills to conduct legal property transactions. Qualifications available are The National Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson) (Level 4), The New Zealand Certificate in Residential Property Management (Level 3) and The New Zealand Certificate in Residential Property Management (Level 4).
To become a real estate agent you need to have one of the following:
- New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson) (Level 4)
- New Zealand Diploma in Business (Real Estate) (Level 6)
- an approved degree such as a Bachelor of Property (Level 7).
Real estate agents must also:
- be over 18 years old
- have no criminal convictions
- have a driver's licence and their own car.
Some real estate agencies offer apprenticeships, where you study towards your New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate while you work.
Real estate agents must get a real estate licence from the Real Estate Authority(REA).
- Real Estate Authority(REA) website - list of qualifications for real estate agents
- Skills website - information on the Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson)
- Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology website - information on the Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson)
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a real estate agent. Useful school subjects include accounting, business studies, digital technologies and economics.
Real estate agents need to be:
- positive and persistent
- excellent communicators
- skilled at selling and negotiating
- motivated and self-disciplined
- honest, trustworthy and able to keep information private
- patient and helpful
- good at planning and organising, with an eye for detail.
Useful experience for real estate agents includes:
- sales work
- public relations experience
- customer service experience.
A technical background in building, photography or design may also be useful.
Real estate agents must have a neat and tidy appearance.
Real estate agents must be licensed with the Real Estate Authority(REA).
Real estate agents may also choose to register with the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand
Find out more about training
- The Skills Organisation
- 0508 547 557 - www.skills.org.nz
- Real Estate Authority
- 0800 367 732 - firstname.lastname@example.org - rea.govt.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Demand for real estate agents depends on:
- having a regular supply of houses and commercial properties to sell
- buyer demand for properties
- New Zealand's economy doing well.
Currently there is high demand for houses, but a shortage of houses available. This has led to strong competition among real estate agents looking for houses to sell. As a result, the chances of finding work as a real estate agent are average.
Opportunities to grow for real estate agents
About 15,000 people worked as real estate agents in New Zealand in 2017. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment expects this number to grow by 3.4% – to about 15,510 – by 2020. This is due to:
- the current construction boom, which will create more properties to sell between now and 2020
- our ageing population increasingly selling their properties to move into retirement homes
- ageing real estate agents retiring and creating vacancies.
Chances best for those who start in real estate agencies
While the rise of internet services for selling property means that there are more independent real estate agents, chances are still best for those who start their career learning on the job in a real estate agency. This means you can:
- build up a client base
- have access to high quality marketing
- learn good sales techniques from experienced agents.
Most real estate agents are self-employed
According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, almost 70% of real estate agents are self-employed.
Real estate agents work for agencies, which can be independent, or franchises of real estate chains.
- Cooke, H, 'NZ Needs 60,000 More Homes, ANZ Says', 13 February 2017, (www.stuff.co.nz).
- Goodall, N, 'Monthly Property and Economic Update for August 2017', 28 August 2017, (www.qv.co.nz).
- Harris, C, 'Real Estate Agents Fight Over Shortage of Houses on Market', 15 June 2016, (www.stuff.co.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Jobs Online Monthly Report June 2017', 2017, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Occupation Outlook – Real Estate Salespeople', 2017, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Real Estate Authority, 'Licensing Statistics', July 2017, (www.rea.govt.nz).
- Real Estate New Zealand, 'Property Report', July 2017, (www.realestate.co.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Real estate agents may progress to become branch managers or real estate agency franchise managers.
Real estate agents may specialise in selling residential, commercial, or rural properties.
Last updated 2 July 2019