Contrary to popular belief, good agents actually earn their commission fees, showing you around the area you are considering buying in, conducting enough viewings for you to find the ideal property you need, and later guiding you smoothly through the entire sales process. This kind of service makes good agents worth their weight in gold, particularly when dealing with foreign speaking developers, lawyers and other service providers in another country.If you’re after an off-plan unit, bear in mind that most real estate developers use agents to market and sell their wares, making them potentially useful in providing information and guidance on their often exclusively offered properties.Real estate can often be a largely unregulated business in many countries, sadly meaning ample opportunity for abuse, so it’s important to question everything when dealing with an agent. Even though you sometimes can’t avoid a bad agent, at least you can be aware of whether or not to expect a good service from the one you are dealing with.If you are intending to rent out or re-sell your property using the same agents you have bought with, be aware that a poor agent is likely to have a detrimental effect on your future investment. Research the other agents in the area and whether or not they will be providing you with a better service. In the case of an off-plan purchase, be sure that you are not tied into any rental plan and that the agent will market your property as opposed to any of the developer’s still unsold units.Identifying the cowboys is easy. Check out the warning signs below:
Where is the property agent’s license? Is he ready and willing to show you professional qualifications?
Does the agent belong to any professionally recognised bodies? Industry professionals can often share their members’ local expertise to build up a network of recommended agents.
Is real estate your agent’s main activity? If it’s a part-time concern, you can probably expect a less professional service from someone who’s only half with you.
Does your agent return your phone calls? If so, are they returned on time?
Does your agent remember you when you phone?
How well-staffed is the office? If you intend to use the agent for lettings, is there an assistant there to ensure that no deals are overlooked? If you intend to use them purely for sales, will your requirements be met by the extra staff member?
Does your agent actually listen and advise you accordingly?
Are you pushed into using a particular lender or legal company that the agent recommends to you? As you should always be free to select the service providers you wish to use, and be aware that some agents receive commissions for recommendations.
Be wary of agents who are strongly advising you to take a particular property. Commission arrangements may well be affecting their impartiality.
Good real estate agents not only show you properties they are representing. They also offer properties listed through partners, allowing them to show you a maximum number of properties to suit your needs.
Is the agent marketing its properties widely enough? If not, you will not be obtaining the latest deals as quickly as necessary.
Your agent should be ready and willing to discuss the property market in the area you are looking at, and produce an accurate comparative analysis of current prices.
Can your agent supply a formal guarantee that your deposit money will be held in an independent account?
Does the agent/developer have a professional indemnity insurance to ensure that if your deposit/installment monies “disappear”, they will be returned to you in full?
Good agents will keep their clients informed on the progress (or delays) of an off-plan construction, or indeed the progress of a re-sale or tenancy.
Does your agent provide after-sales support and other services such as optional financial advice, letting or furnishing services? If so, check out the quality of such services and on what price or basis you are being offered them – normally there is a commission involved for your agent, but the product or services may not necessarily be the best in the area. Never allow yourself to be tied into using after-sales services from your agent.
Finally, are your agent’s fees comparable with those of other real estate agents in the area? In many countries, commission fees can vary considerably from one agent to another.