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Want a career in real estate?

If you wish to help high net worth individuals invest in the right property, you can look forward to a career in realty management, reports Vandana Ramnani

education Updated: Mar 31, 2010 10:32 IST
Vandana Ramnani

When the rich and famous wish to buy a home, they simply pick up their 24K gold cell phones and call up their real estate consultants. They personally hop in and out of million dollar properties in a Maybach, consultant in tow. Some are quick with “this is what I was looking for” while others take months and even years to sign on the dotted line.

For 32-year-old Anand Narayanan, national director - Residential Agency, Knight Frank India, work means accompanying high net worth individuals (HNIs) on their house hunting spree, providing them with ‘a la carte’ services such as information on the new luxury properties in town and abroad, insights into area statistics, quick number crunching on future prospects, and even information on whether the said property proved lucky for its previous owner. An alumni of Institute for Technology and Management, Mumbai, and Loyola College, Chennai, Anand is a busy man all seven days a week. It is, therefore, not surprising that he ends up having breakfast with a well-known businessbaron on Saturday and dinner with another on Sunday to discuss homes. “Most clients one would service are available on weekends, so a working week may sometimes be unstructured or would be up seven days straight,” says Narayanan.

Ask him about why he decided to become a consultant and he tells you that he signed up with this real estate advisory because it gave him an opportunity to work with an array of clients across a wide spectrum of businesses and cater to their diverse needs. “I find this both challenging and intriguing as it requires one to consistently sharpen one’s skills and knowledge.”

Typically, real estate assets comprise 30 to 40 per cent of an HNI client’s wealth portfolio. “And believe me when I say this, when a top corporate honcho or business magnate signs up a large business deal, he may let it happen under the watchful eyes of his senior colleagues at work. But when it comes to picking up a home, he himself will roll up his/her sleeves and walk the mile with you. No wealth manager gets as up close and personal to a HNI as a real estate consultant does.”

Skills required for the job
The primary set of skills that are required in this field are the passion and drive to work with India’s demanding rich. Other skills may be akin to what one may need to have if one were working for a wealth management firm. The job is the same — advise and service HNIs and build a personal rapport with them. One would also consistently need to update oneself on the sector and be aware of the latest market trends as well as future market predictions. “This is very important as clients in the HNI space are very knowledgeable themselves. It is, therefore crucial to keep them enriched with precise and accurate information,” says Narayanan. It is also essential to have strong communication and advertising skills.

Growth prospects
The residential real estate broking sector at present is estimated to be worth about Rs 2,500 crores and is growing at a rate of approximately 20 to 25 per cent per annum. The opportunities in this sector are highly lucrative. So, to be working in this field s a wise decision, he says.

What's it about?
A real estate consultant deals with high-value property assets. He needs to have a clear understanding of what each client, generally an HNI, is looking for, align these requirements with the broader market scenario and be able to deliver value in a complex and unstructured marketplace. His services range from showing properties, analysing area sales statistics, examining contracts before making offers or closing deals etc. Negotiation skills are absolutely mandatory to succeed in this field, and these are best picked up by observing seasoned veterans

Clock Work
9 am: Reach office
9-10 am: Overview clients being serviced, new assignments to be handled etc
10 to 10.30 am: Internal team meetings
10.30 to 11 am: Oversee new residential assets that have come to the market for sale or lease
11 to 11.30 am: Speak to clients and go over their requirements and advise them on new opportunities that have come into the market
11.30 to 5 pm: Take clients for property visits, organise and facilitate negotiation meetings between both parties, interact with other advisors such as realtors who
represent the other side of the transaction, lawyers, architects, developers etc
5 to 6.30 pm: Meet developers to oversee their new product plans, advise them on what the market demands are, understand their requirements etc. and
complete paper work

The Payoff
A trainee can earn a salary of Rs 3.5 lakh a month and a senior manager can expect a salary of Rs 12 lakh a month The salary structure of the senior management and directors varies depending on the property advisory firm

Skills
. A great passion for the job
. Assertiveness
. A strong marketing/sales mindset; customer orientation
. Organisation skills
. A fair understanding of the dynamics of the real estate sector

How do i get there?
There is no fixed criterion for anyone wanting to enter the business of realty consulting. However, it helps to have a background in business management and marketing communication. However, if you want to get into the technical side of the business, a background in architecture or civil engineering would be ideal

Institutes & urls
No particular institutes.
In general, specialisation in real estate management (non- technical courses) is not available in India unlike in the West. However, autonomous institutions like NIREM (www.nirem.org), NICMAR (www.nicmar.ac.in) and IIRE (www.iire.co.in) are doing some pioneering work in the real estate space in India
. CASS Business School, London
http://www.cass.city.ac.uk/masters/courses/mscreal/index.html
. National University of Singapore (NUS)
http://bschool.nus.edu.sg/TheNUSMBAold/ProgrammeInformation/Specialisations/RealEstate.aspx
. Cornell University, USA
www.realestate.cornell.edu
. Indian Institure of Real Estate (IIRE)
http://www.iire.co.in/)
. Amity University
http://www.amity.edu/admission/programoffered.asp?stream=PG&campus1=Both&discipline=46#A41114QQQ
. National Institute of Real Estate
www.nirem.org

Pros & Cons
.

The level of sales incentives in a real estate advisory firm tends to be disproportionately higher than in a financial services advisory firm


.

The level of exposure and opportunities to get up, close and personal with HNI clients are much higher


.

There are ample opportunities for sharpening your skill sets in term of customer service


.

Most clients are available on weekends, so a working week would be up seven days straight


.

The industry is highly unstructured and fragmented in India

Striking a million dollar deal

Negotiation skills are mandatory to succeed in this field, says a real estate consultant

What is a real estate consultant’s job like?
A real estate consultant has the complex and responsibility-driven role of dealing with high-value property assets. Hence, a potent combination of technical know-how, market insight and ethical values are the cornerstones of a perfect real estate professional. In a market like India, this role compounds dramatically, since there is a huge amount of growth happening in a largely disorganised real estate sector.

What are the challenges?
The challenges lie in understanding clearly what each client is looking for, aligning these requirements with the broader market scenario and being able to consistently deliver value in a very complex and unstructured marketplace. If the consultant is able to meet these challenges, the benefits are significant.

Knowledge and expertise-driven real estate services are highly valued both by domestic and international clients, and a professional property consultancy values qualified and experienced real estate experts highly for these reasons.

What will your advice be to those wanting to get into this field?
Our advice to all aspiring real estate professionals is to educate themselves to the maximum extent possible on all aspects of the property sector and the business world – and, further, not to rely on knowledge alone but to avail of expert mentoring before actually venturing into the field. Negotiation skills are absolutely mandatory to succeed in this field, and these are best picked up by observing seasoned veterans.

He or she must also have a firm understanding of sound business ethics, and must believe in them. The Indian real estate market is now adapting to international best practices, and the future belongs to polished professionals – not mercenaries.

PB Nageshwar, Head - HR, Jones Lang laSalle Meghraj Interviewed by Vandana Ramnani