How To Find A Good Estate Agent

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Today marks my return to the Brokers Direct blog after a two-week absence. Where have I been, you may ask? Coincidentally enough, I’ve been looking at property. Not buy-to-let property, mind you, but I’ve still come away with some tips on how to find a good estate agent that will apply whatever type of property you’re looking for (and whether you’re looking to buy or sell).

I’ve also picked up some other useful tips along the way, but I’ll get to those another time. For now, let’s look at a few traits the best estate agents share:

They Listen

I have a few choice words for the estate agent who sent me several emails full of listings for studio flats – when I’d specified that I was looking for 2 or more bedrooms – and countryside mansions going for double my budget, but I’m far too polite to repeat them in present company.

It may be the case that these were the result of an automated email system – a wonderful thing when done well, not so much when they aren’t – gone awry, but my first instinct was that they hadn’t listened to a word I’d said and had just stuck me on a ‘one size fits all’ mailing list.

They Make Time For You

You wouldn’t believe the number of unanswered messages I’ve left for estate agents over the past few weeks. For an industry that’s pretty much built on commission, you’d think that there would always be someone looking to pick up the slack and see every lead through but apparently that’s not the case.

Don’t jump straight into things with an agent. Leave a gap of a day or two between emails/calls and see if they actually bother to keep the lines of communication open with you. Of course if you leave it too long it might look like you’re not interested, so there’s definitely a fine line there.

They Don’t Play Games

There are still estate agents out there taking part in this really nasty practice: before you can even take a first viewing of a property, they require that you meet with an in-house financial adviser. In theory, this is designed to limit time wasting and make sure that potential buyers can actually afford the house.

In practice, it’s open to all sorts of abuse because it means that the financial adviser can encourage potential buyers to make a higher than necessary offer because they’ve seen all their figures and know that they can afford to do so. While that might sound appealing to sellers, it’s off-putting enough that many potential buyers won’t even bother to start the process because of it.

They Know What They’re Talking About

Always a hard one to judge, but I found that asking questions was the best way to figure this out. I asked two agents the same set of questions – things like how long the property had been on the market, whether many people had been out to see it, what sort of flexibility the seller had in terms of price etc.

One came out with thoughtful, honest answers. The other hit me with a stream of ‘dunno really’s. You can imagine with whom I felt more inclined to deal with.

None of the above is a guarantee that you’ve found a good estate agent, but by the time you’ve worked your way through that list you should be starting to get a feel for whether or not you’re happy to work with them. Remember, you may be doing so for weeks or even months, so it’s not a bad idea to take your time.

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