What types of jobs and employers are there in property?
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Property professionals work to increase the value of land and property (otherwise known as real estate) – that is, to make sure that property makes money. When people think of the property industry, they tend to think of estate agencies. But it is more than this. There are many firms that provide all sorts of services to clients. Some of the ways a property firm makes money for its clients are:
- selling, buying, letting or renting real estate
- negotiating the terms of contracts for landlords and/or tenants
- valuing land or property and setting the price for it to be sold or let at
- finding ways to increase a property’s value or rental income
- conducting building surveys
- overseeing matters relating to planning and land development, eg getting planning permission
- assessing a property’s impact on the environment.
Property is divided into three types:
- residential (including housing developments, individual homes, apartment blocks and student accomodation)
- commercial (any property with a business use, ranging from shops and offices to warehouses and hotels)
- rural (property in the countryside, including country estates, farms, land and countryside housing developments).
Property firms specialise in one, a couple or all of these markets. Property professionals often specialise in one of these markets.
Most property professionals work for property or surveying firms, but other organisations that deal with large amounts of real estate can also hire property professionals: these include retail chains, as well as infrastructure companies such as Network Rail. There are vacancies in the public sector, too, especially for planners and those surveyors who specialise in valuing land/property and working with business rates (taxes). There are also some jobs with house-building companies.
There are two main types of jobs in property.
The job of surveyors
The typical job title for a property professional is surveyor, sometimes known as a general practice surveyor. They work to become chartered surveyors. If they work for a private property employer, their role is to make the most money possible out of a piece of land or property on behalf of clients. Clients include the land or property’s owners; people or companies looking to rent or buy land or property; or wealthy individuals or investment management groups who want to invest in a property.
Property surveyors are based in an office but spend a lot of their time out visiting sites. They might:
- value a piece of land or real estate
- sell or let property, marketing it to possible buyers and negotiating to get the highest price possible
- find properties for clients to rent or buy, negotiating to get the lowest price possible
- work out how clients can pay the lowest business rates (taxes) allowed by the law
- manage properties on behalf of clients, overseeing everything from collecting rents to ensuring that the property is kept in a good condition
- help to turn an empty piece of land into a new housing estate/office block etc.
- advise clients on where best to invest their money in property.
Property professionals might get involved in a number of these tasks or specialise in one or two of them. If you join a property firm, you often get to try out a range of tasks to see which you’d like best. However, if you join the public sector or another organisation that deals with real estate, you will probably just specialise in one type of task from the start.
Property surveyors tend to work towards a ‘professional qualification’ known as chartership when they enter the profession. This is an on-the-job qualification that tells the world that you are qualified to a high standard and allows you to call yourself a chartered surveyor. It is awarded by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
The job of planners
Planners make decisions about how we use the space around us. They decide how many houses, hospitals, schools and shops we need, for example, and where they go. They balance the needs of the population with the need to protect the environment and historical buildings. They frequently communicate with politicians and members of the public.
The role of a planner varies depending on your employer. If you work in the public sector, you will decide whether a construction project can go ahead (looking at things such as the size of the proposed project, the impact it will have on the environment, whether it will fit in with the surrounding area and whether there are enough transport links to it). If you work for a property or construction company, your job is to try to get planning permission for the project.
Planners tend to work towards a ‘professional qualification’ known as chartership when they enter the profession. This is an on-the-job qualification that tells the world that you know your stuff. It is usually awarded by The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
How does the property industry intersect with the construction industry?
Property firms usually don’t build or directly oversee construction projects themselves; they leave that to the construction professionals. But property professionals are often the clients of the construction professionals because they help to decide whether there is a need for construction on a piece of land.