Property Agent Career: How Much You Have To Spend On Certification And Licences

This article was first published on DollarsAndSense.sg.

There are people who will look towards being a property agent due to the perks that entail. Some may be enticed by the flexible working hours, while others may simply want to be their own boss or to earn a good commission from every transaction.

But do you know that the journey to getting your licence, securing your first client and seeing money rolling in, requires not just perseverance, but also some initial monetary investment as well?

In this article, we bring together information from different sources to create a list of the costs you need to prepare in your career conversion journey.

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#1 Qualification Assessment

The first thing you should do before embarking on journey as a property agent is to assess your academic qualification.

Currently, the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) mandates all new entrants to have a minimum 4 GCE “O” Level pass, or to attain Level 5 and above for the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy (WPLN) assessment, before they can sign up for the Real Estate Salesperson (RES) course and examination

Alternatively, if you have any qualifications from overseas or private institutions, you can apply to the CEA to determine if it meets the education qualification requirement for a fee.

In the event you possess the following qualifications, you are exempted from both the course and examination:

Name of QualificationIssuing Body
Bachelor of Science (Real Estate)National University of Singapore
Bachelor of Science (Estate Management)
Bachelor of Real Estate (Property Management)
Bachelor of Real Estate (Valuation)
Diploma in Building ManagementNgee Ann Polytechnic
Diploma in Building & Real Estate Management
Diploma in Real Estate Business
Diploma in Property Development & Facilities ManagementSingapore Polytechnic
Diploma in Building & Property Management
Pass in all 3 General Practice ExaminationsRoyal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Cost: $20 for WPLN assessment,$64.20 for CEA qualification assessment

#2 Real Estate Salesperson (RES) Course

All new entrants are required to take the RES course to prepare for the examination.

The course is designed to provide all new entrants with sufficient knowledge on the concepts of real estate practice, and the legal requirements governing real estate work.

Depending on the course provider, the length of course ranges from two weeks to two months, with fees ranging from $700 to $900.

If the course fees are a concern, you can make use of your SkillsFuture credit or, if you are a NTUC member, the Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) subsidy of up to $250.

Candidates who have successfully attended at least 75% of the course will be issued with a course certificate, with a validity of 2 years for the eligibility to take the RES Examination.

In the event if you did not pass the RES examination after 2 years from the date of certification, you will be required to re-take the course.

Cost: $700 – $900 per course, depending on the course provider

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#3 RES Examination

Once you have obtained the course certificate, you can register for the RES examination that assesses your competency and knowledge about the real estate industry and property-related matters.

Conducted once every 4 months, the examination consists of 2 papers, each paper consisting of 50 multiple-choice questions, 15 multiple-choice questions related to a case study, and 10 fill-in-the-blank questions. The duration is 2.5 hours for each paper.

The passing mark for each paper is 60%, and you are required to pass both papers. In the event you fail one paper, you are only required to retake the failed paper.

In an event where you are in doubt or not satisfied with your RES examination results, you can submit an appeal for review of your results within 5 working days from the date of notification of examination results. The process takes 14 working days, and you will be notified of the outcome in writing. Do note that answer scripts will not be shown to you.

Cost: $417.30 for 2 papers, and $235.40 for each individual paper

#4 Optional RES Assessment Books & Notes

While the study notes provided should be sufficient to prepare for the examination, you might want to reference with notes from other course providers, or challenge yourself to assessment books that are touted to follow closely the format of the RES examination.

These notes are readily available on trading platforms such as Carousell or Gumtree. Be sure to pay in cash to procure any notes or books.

Cost: Typically starts from $30 

#5 Salesperson Registration

If you have passed both papers in the examination, congratulations! You are now a step closer towards getting your licence.

In this juncture, you will need to apply for salesperson registration with CEA through the estate agency you wish to join,which takes around 4 to 6 weeks for processing.

Prior to registration, you should ensure that you fulfill other registration criteria, such as being a Singaporean or a Singapore Permanent Resident, be 21 years of age and above, and with no prior conviction in a court of law.

Cost: $230 registration fee plus $53.50 application fee to register new salesperson

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#6 Prescribed Items And Training By Respective Estate Agencies

Depending on the agency, you may be asked to pay for “starter packs” consisting of professional indemnity insurance, staff pass and name cards.

Some agencies may also request you to participate in workshops before starting work.

Most of these workshops are designed to give new entrants a brief overview of the agency, while some might include activities such as icebreaker or even imparting basic sales techniques.

Some of these workshops are conducted free-of-charge, while others may require you to pay a fee.

Cost: Starting from $100, and can go as high as $800, depending on the agencies

#7 Marketing Costs

It takes more than leveraging on your network of relatives and friends to get referrals; you need to set yourself apart from the rest by marketing your services.

While many agents prefer to use online marketing platforms such as PropertyGuru and 99.co, there are others using offline channels such as classified ads, brochures, telemarketing and even bus ads to promote their services.

The rate for every marketing platform varies. For online platforms, 99.co offers the cheapest annual package of 100 listings for $388 a year, while PropertyGuru offers a rate of $980 a year with 500 ad credits for posting or boosting of ads. There are free platforms that property agents are using as well, and these include social media sites like Facebook or Instagram.

For offline marketing, the current rate for a telemarketer ranges from $8 to $12 an hour, over a span of three hours in the evenings, while the cheapest classified ad starts from $38.52, with three text lines.

Cost: Initial investment of at least $500, depending on the choice of marketing platforms

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#8 Transport – Taxi/Grab Fares

The life of a property agent revolves around conducting appointments with clients at different places.

Having a car brings convenience to agents, as well as allows you to drive your clients from one property viewing to another. However, there are some who would prefer to make Grab or taxi rides an essential part of their lifestyle.

You may think that taking public transport is possible, but given the possibility of back-to-back appointments, it is not a practical solution.

Cost: Starting from $10 per trip

Total Cost? $2,000 And Upwards

From our conservative calculation, you may need to spend more than $2,000 during the initial period of your estate agent career. This is assuming you have the minimum GCE “O” Level qualification, pass the RES examination in one sitting, not spending on additional notes and pay lower range on marketing costs and taxi trips. This amount will set to increase if you intend to purchase or apply for more items or services.

As you can see, the costs add up into a hefty amount. Also, do remember that you have to pay this sum before you can start earning a single dollar from your real estate career.

In addition, you also need to consider other factors, such the possibility of not having an income for the first few months in your job, and not earning as much as you envisioned.

Like with other cases of career conversion, you need to consider if the job is something you can see yourself doing for the long run. After all, the job is not solely about chasing after commissions.

A good agent adds value by playing a multi-faceted role, such as choosing an ideal home based on the budget of the clients, helping them understand their financial options and while managing a smooth the sales process.

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