Ever considered selling property for a living? Here's how to get your foot in the real estate door

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Many real estate agencies are often on the lookout for new realtors – from interns to experienced brokers.
Many real estate agencies are often on the lookout for new realtors – from interns to experienced brokers.
The Good Brigade/Getty

Think popping Champagne next to the infinity pool of a sea-facing mansion, half-a-million rand-plus commissions and cut-throat competition – that’s the lifestyle shows such as Listing Jozi, Selling Sunset and Million Dollar Beach House portray as a day in the life of a real estate agent.

It’s partly scripted for TV but not altogether too far off from the truth, says Julia Torrente, a consultant for Amazing Spaces Lifestyle Investments.

“Competition between agents can be fierce especially when property prices begin to exceed the R10 million mark and are found in South Africa’s most sought-after neighbourhoods.

"Clients in this category can include anyone from local and international celebrities and royals to politicians and industry moguls, so there is a certain expectation that comes with the job if you want to cut it in this business.”  

Actor Taye Diggs is one of the clients looking for a new home in season one of reality show Selling Sunset.

Torrente grew up in a ‘real estate’ home. Both her parents loved to buy, renovate, and sell homes and her mom was an agent for over 30 years. She believes that this industry is all about playing matchmaker. 

Read more | Listing Jozi | Everything you need to know about SA's first reality property listing show 

This is the Cape Town real estate broker’s advice for anyone wanting to get their feet in the real estate agency door. 

  • Is this a career for me?   

You must absolutely love to be in service of others. You will be dealing with people all the time so you must want to be social and interactive. Clients will demand your attention, so you will need to have the time, willingness, and energy to always be available. If you enjoy the thrill of closing a deal then this is for you, however sometimes you will also have to tell clients their offer was unsuccessful, which is easier said than done and requires an empathic manner.  

  • Do I need any qualifications? 

You will need a Real Estate NQF 4, which can be studied at various institutions in South Africa. However, an agent may operate as an intern, under supervision, until they have achieved this qualification. Certain exemptions may apply depending on previous studies.

Julia Torrente started her career in the wellness industry then moved into marketing before qualifying as an agent.

The qualification is a prerequisite for admission to the professional examination for estate agents, conducted by the Estate Agency Affairs Board. Successful completion of the programme and the exam entitles candidates to be registered as a non-principal estate agent by the Estate Agency Affairs Board.

  • Is there money to be made?  

If you ever fancied writing your own paycheque then this is the business for you. What you put in is what you get out. So, if you want to live the agents’ life that you see on Selling Sunset, then you will need to put in the time, but don’t expect it to happen overnight. 

"The average commission agents earn in Cape Town is around four to five percent. The agency then usually pays out about half to the agent that made the sale."

 The reason you won’t make money right away is because it firstly takes time to obtain a listing. As a newbie you will need to establish yourself by building your network and then grow from there. It’s only after you obtain a listing that you then need to go through the process of selling the home.

This means showing it to potential buyers and once it is sold you must wait for the transfer to go through, which could take on average two to three months. Your commission is then only paid to you once the sale has registered in the deed’s office.

Homes in Clifton, one of the most affluent SA neighbourhoods, can be in the 8-figure range.

One thing you must consider is the price category of the home and the property market at the time of the sale. Often homes can take up to two years to sell, but then again, it could take a day. 

  • Can I grow in this industry?

There are daily opportunities for growth in real estate such as opening your own business, working in different areas, working in the different fields like commercial, industrial, or residential, going into property management, handling property portfolios, working in the home loan or bond origination sector. 

Read more | 'How I turned one property into 46 flats and 7 shops' – mixed-use property investor Lazola 

One can also continue to add to their skillset through the various courses available. Many attorneys provide training and webinar updates on legal topics and law amendments, which is a fascinating area to explore.  

Cutthroat versus glamour?

What you see on TV is always going to glamourise reality in some way. So, I would take what you watch with a pinch of salt. However, there will always be some drama when you combine different personalities and working styles.

Some agents are very happy to work together to assist clients and each other to close a deal, while others prefer to work alone. As for glamourous, there is a lot that it isn’t like the long days and late nights. But if the idea of networking with A-listers or seeing the inside of designer homes sounds glamourous then yes, you will enjoy that side of the position too.

Homes with spectacular views, tennis courts and infinity pools are some of the properties Julia sells.
Homes with spectacular views, tennis courts and infinity pools are some of the properties Julia sells.
Homes with spectacular views, tennis courts and infinity pools are some of the properties Julia sells.

For more about Amazing Spaces Lifestyle Investments and their job opportunities please go to www.amazingspacesinvestments.co.za

Here are 5 other real estate companies with a huge national footprint that are actively hiring.

Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty

Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty says it’s always on the lookout for real estate managers. Should you wish to explore jobs in realty in your area of choice, please mail a comprehensive CV to their Head Office at headoffice@sothebysrealty.co.za or go to www.sothebysrealty.co.za/careers/

Century 21

Century 21 is actively hiring real estate agents. To apply, contact Louis Van Rensburg on 065 719 4307 or mail: louis.vrensburg@century21.co.za


Selling property is one of those jobs that allow a huge amount of flexibility – you’re not always stuck behind a desk from 9-5, which is why Rawson says it wants to know what you've got that will set you up for success as a Rawson estate agent, as well as what you need in terms of training and support. Fill out the recruitment application here.

Pam Golding Properties

It's the only company-owned office network in the country and has more than 300 offices globally. Whether you’re looking for training and internship opportunities or are an experienced estate agent, Pam Golding Properties encourages you to visit their careers pages to see the many opportunities available in the company. V


SAProperty.Com is looking for experienced agents within a few key regions in South Africa. To apply, you must have full status and 4+ years real estate experience as well as a track record in listings and sales and you could get a competitive split (package negotiable) plus access to a real estate coach and business coach, as well as admin support. Contact either Wayne Heidmann (wayne.heidmann@saproperty.com) on 082 328 8421 or or Naomi (naomim@saproperty.com) on 021 2000 145 or to apply.

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