When buying or selling property, sooner or later we will need to deal with estate agents. They are given a bad press, often sitting alongside parking wardens and investment bankers as a profession that are made out to be the pantomime villains for all of society’s ills. Like all professions though, there are good ones and bad ones and probably tarring all with the same brush is somewhat unfair.
Anyway, we have prepared this article to give a few tips when dealing with estate agents.
Put Everything In Writing
When putting an offer through estate agents, it is always beneficial to put it clearly in writing. If you have given an offer over the telephone or in person, follow it up with an email. On at least two occasions when buying properties, at exchange of contracts, sellers have said my offer was different to what it actually was. On both occasions, I could forward my offer email. Sellers then may try to argue that the full details of the offer was not communicated to them by the agent, but that is their problem. Estate agents act as agents of the seller.
Book Viewings In Blocks In Advance
Estate agents can be busy and may only have certain viewing slots available. That is why I always book viewings a few days ahead and also book to see various properties in the same slot. If you book suitably in advance, there is a chance you can get more viewings within the same slot. This is because the agent may have then back to back slots free. Also, a few days may be needed to get consent from tenants and sellers.
Booking in advance also gives the opportunity to get back to back appointments with different agents. It always find it a little annoying if I have a day for viewings and there are many hours between when the first agent can do viewings and the second agent.
Go Multi Agent
I do hear of agents calling up their friend and selling a property before it even hits the market. The seller then does not know if he or she is getting the highest price. I hear this happening a lot on probate sales where the relatives may not know the true value of the property and just want to sell as soon as possible.
If you have two agents, at least you have a another one to give a second view on the price offered. It also prevents you from being dependent on one estate agent, especially if they are not so good.
If on a viewing, use the opportunity to ask as many questions as you can. What are the seller’s circumstances, will they accept a deal, are they in a rush, why are they selling etc.? If you get the agent talking, they may reveal more than they should which may help in you understanding the amount the seller will accept.
Many viewers just exchange small talk with the agents. This may be a wasted opportunity.