Sectional Title Living - How to choose an Estate Agent

The purchase of a townhouse complex is an intricate transaction requiring specialized skills and knowledge. Amongst other things, the expertise, experience and know-how an estate agent can bring to the process will help reduce some of the risks involved and avoid unnecessary stress when buying. This is all well and good, in theory of course! However, besides that convincing smile and dynamic personality, an estate agent should also do the following:

  • only show you complexes that fit your specified criteria
  • arrange showings at your convenience
  • assist you in obtaining advanced approval for financing
  • assist with negotiations
  • draw up your offer and present it to the seller

Taking notes and keeping up? Great, because there are also five great expectations that your agent should endeavour to fulfil:

  • The best possible price
  • The fewest possible complications
  • The shortest possible time
  • The least possible inconvenience
  • The greatest possible efficiency

Lets start with the wallet. Admit it, everyone is price sensitive, so in order to obtain the best possible price, your agent should determine an asking price informed by a comparative market analysis, and possess the necessary negotiating skills to obtain it.

Your agent should also financially qualify each potential purchaser before accepting an offer. Nobody likes complications. If necessary, your property should continue to be marketed after accepting a conditional offer, in search of a more suitable purchaser.

Time is money and in the property market, this couldnt be closer to the truth. To achieve the shortest time possible, your agent should perform a comprehensive search of the purchasers already on his/her books immediately and, if possible, have the property advertised in the newspaper within a week. To assure that you, the seller, of the least possible inconvenience and greatest possible efficiency, your agent should take prospective purchasers through your property only on show days or by appointment, and promptly attend to all.

The main advantage of working with a large, countrywide estate agency is that if a potential buyer puts in an offer, subject to the sale of his property elsewhere, the estate agency will be able to assist with this transaction as well.

Unfortunately, there are two sides to every coin and despite all the positives, there are some negatives which you need to be aware of. One of the biggest problems currently facing the market is the incorrect pricing of properties. Unprofessional estate agents may under or overprice your property and although you may want the highest return on investment as possible, incorrect pricing can lead to serious problems and delays in making the sale.

You wont select a stockbroker on the value of stock, but rather on competence, trust, comfort and reputation. Therefore, you should select an agent on the same basis. The best agents have the confidence to tell you the truth about the market. Their job is to sell your home, not price it. All the exposure in the world wont sell an overpriced home, and an agents enthusiasm about your home will not increase its value either. Ideally, select your agent first, and then determine the price of your home together.

Although most people dont like asking the proverbial list of 21 questions, when it comes to estate agents, its essential. Your estate agent should be grilled on the following issues before allowing him/her to market your property:

  • The companys track record and reputation.
  • The extent of its operation. If the agent brings you an offer that involves selling the buyers property in another area, will the firm be able to handle the buyers sale?
  • Is the particular agent registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) and in possession of a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate for the specific year (required by law)?
  • Has the agent passed any professional exams, such as the Estate Agency Affairs Board Exam (CEA) or any other property sales course? This will ensure that the agent is competent.
  • The agent should inform you how he/she intends to market your property through advertisements, a show house schedule, report backs, etc. If you are granting a sole mandate, make sure youre given a written marketing plan as this is also required by law.
  • Ensure that there is good management support from the company, even if the agent is experienced.

By Bill Rawson of the Institute of Estate Agents (IEA)

Courtesy SA Complex News

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