We have begun categorising real estate agents in our office. There are a number of types and there are different ways to handle each category. But before we over complicate things, there are some general rules to follow!
Firstly, remember that they are working for the vendor, not for you. They will look after you to the extent that it gets their listing sold. If they don’t have a listing that suits you, they won’t contact you. If the market is hot, they probably won’t contact you even if they do have a good property for you – after all they will sell it to someone without too much difficulty. The one exception to this rule is if you have a property to sell. If that is the case, they will look after you very well indeed!
Don’t get me wrong, I love agents. I am one, after all, and I spent six years as a selling agent, so I know very well the demands they have on their time and where they can be most efficient. So the sooner you, as a buyer, can forget the expectation that a real estate agent is there to help you, the easier you will find it to deal with them.
I encourage you to let the agent know if you like a property. You don’t have to gush and fawn over it but they simply won’t keep you in the loop if you don’t advise them of your interest. There is no point being mad at an agent for selling a property without your knowledge if they have no idea you like it! Ask for a copy of the contract and, if you are serious, get started on your due diligence.
But don’t become a serial contract collector. Agents get to know those house hunters pretty quickly and don’t take them seriously. Think of the boy who cried wolf.
I like to treat agents with courtesy. They have a job to do and so do I. Getting cranky with them can be counterproductive as sometimes they do favour one buyer over another and it is possible that they can influence their vendor’s choice of which buyer to sell to – believe it or not, the highest offer doesn’t always buy the property!
Top 5 questions to ask the estate agent when interested in a property:
1. Can I please have a contract?
2. Are there any other buyers who are seriously interested at the moment?
3. Have there been any offers? What level do I need to be at to buy the property?
You may or may not get a useful answer here, but it’s worth asking.
4. Will the vendor entertain a longer settlement (12 weeks)?
This gives the indication of how motivated they are to sell and whether they are under pressure because they already bought something else.
5. Has anybody else done a building/pest inspection or strata report that I could buy?
This shows how many other buyers are serious. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you do actually buy their reports. If you have time, get your own.
Veronica Morgan is the co-host of Location Location Location Australia and principal of Sydney based Good Deeds Property Buyers.
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