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What skills should we be looking for in a successful lettings agentWe're told that the economy is performing better than it has since the downturn; employment figures are on the up; and we've recently seen National Careers Week and National Apprenticeship Week take place.

Perhaps now, more than in recent years, people are more likely to consider a career change, rather than stick with a job simply because the thought of leaving it is too scary or risky financially.

Now is certainly a great time for people to enter the property sector, particularly the world of lettings.

While the buy-to-let market is certainly enjoying something of a boom, I don't think this is the sole reason to encourage people to consider becoming a lettings agent. The nature of the industry is such that there tends to be regular vacancies which are, of course, amplified in areas of high regeneration and development.

In the capital alone, projects including Crossrail, The Olympic Park and the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station will all create additional vacancies for would-be lettings agents, and this will be replicated elsewhere in the country where major projects are underway.

So what skills and attributes should we be looking for in a successful lettings agent First and foremost, in my opinion, new recruits will need drive, focus and the ability to listen. Property is, unfortunately, an industry which can struggle with its perception and so the individual's ability to work in an ethical, professional manner, is crucial to proving integrity and providing the best customer experience.

I personally don't think it matters whether you're a school leaver, college leaver, graduate, or a career changer wishing to enter lettings and management - individual skills and attributes will either make or break a good agent.

Attitude and ability to adapt to different circumstance will also be crucial. For those changing careers, life experiences can be valuable as they will be able to empathise with and understand a client's needs.

For a school or college leaver, making the decision to enter lettings and management will provide the opportunity to embark on a career that will equip them with numerous transferable skills including: the art of negotiating; customer service; and the capability to deal with landlords and tenants from different backgrounds.

A successful career in lettings and management, whatever stage in your life you're at, will be demanding and often full-on. But for anyone prepared to strive to be the best, then it can also be incredibly rewarding. I'd certainly encourage anyone who has ever, even briefly, considered such a role to find out more.

*David Westgate is Managing Director at Andrews Letting & Management

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