Real estate agencies are companies which specialise in handling the details of buying or renting property on behalf of the property’s owner. Activities will include advertising properties which are available for sale or rent, showing the properties to prospective purchasers or renters to allow them to make a decision and handling some of the contractual matters once a decision to rent or purchase has been made.
The vast majority of home sales in most developed countries are mediated by real estate agents. Typically, the estate agent is remunerated by receiving a percentage of the final purchase price of the home, of the order of 1 or 2%.
In many countries, real estate agents are viewed unfavourably, often being seen as slick and sleazy conmen who are ever ready to cheat and deceive clients. Often no special qualification or license is required to set up as an estate agent, although, in some countries, there is greater regulation of the profession and estate agents may be required to join professional associations which can guarantee a minimum of professional standards.
Sometimes a real estate firm will also deal in property management so that the broadest range of services will be provided to property owners wishing to rent their properties out.