We often hear complaints from buyers who get frustrated at the poor service they have to endure. In a market where good listings sell quickly it’s often the level of service you receive from an estate agent that will determine whether or not you have a fair opportunity to purchase the property you want.
One of the biggest dangers for a buyer is the false comfort they may feel when they work with an agent who tells them “work with me because I can get you into all the listings anyway – all the agents share their listings”.
That’s simply not true. The reality is that, as a general rule, the best agents secure the best sole mandates. In order to secure these mandates they commit to a strong marketing plan and a strategy that attracts the strongest buyer interest. They don’t need to include other agents in this as their marketing attracts the buyers anyway.
Buyers follow houses – so when you see a property advertised it’s always best to enquire of the property with the listing agent. When you do this the listing agent has an obligation to act in an open and transparent way, disclose all the information they have on the property, and present any offer you submit. If another agent is in the way you sadly may not enjoy these benefits to the extent you deserve.
Agents who don’t have much stock like to “book” you as their buyer. They call the other agents and try to book you into their listings – but in many cases they are not granted access and you lose out.
As a buyer you don’t belong to anyone. Don’t let an agent try to claim you as their property – as if you are some commodity they can trade. Enquire directly with the listing agent as it affords you the best opportunity to make an offer and the listing agent can negotiate directly between the seller and you.
Sometimes in a rising market it can be hard to determine what fair market value is. As a buyer you are free to ask the listing agent for information on recent sales in the area which most agents have access to. Use this as a guide – but remember that only the most current data can be used.
Estate agents are ethically required to present all written offers you make, whether they want to or not. A seller has the right to accept, reject, or counter your offer. When you are competing against other buyers it’s best not to play games. Make your strongest offer as you may not get another shot at offering on the property you want.
Lastly, if you’re not getting the service you think you deserve then do what you can to show you’re a genuine buyer. Get yourself pre-qualified as this shows your commitment. Speak to the principal if you’re not serviced properly. Shop wisely. Work directly with the listing agents. And get your house in order so that you can move swiftly when you need to.
Principal of Harcourts Platinum
Director of Harcourts South Africa