How to find the perfect agent

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

The process of buying or selling property is often stressful so it’s vitally important to partner with the right estate agent. Here’s what to look out for.

Becoming a good estate agent doesn't just happen, it often takes years of dedication, education and determination to get to the top. Buyers and sellers, unless they have bought and sold a number of properties, don't generally know what to expect from their agent and may end up becoming frustrated when things don’t go smoothly.

There are a number of ways to determine if the agent you employ is the right one for you. Here are a few of the basics:

  • The agent is in possession of a current, valid Fidelity Fund certificate. Ask to see proof before you start the process.

  • The agent listens to you. This is perhaps the most important factor of all, particularly for those who are buying a new home. Agents who work to their own agenda will invariably waste your time by taking you to view properties not suited to your requirements.

  • The agent keeps appointments and always returns calls. Agents do get busy and may not always be able to take your call immediately but this doesn't mean that you should have any undue difficulty getting hold of them.

  • The agent lives up to his promises. This is particularly important for sellers. It may be time to find someone new if the agent concerned consistently fails to do what he said he would when he signed the mandate to sell your home.

Traits to avoid:

  • An agent who bullies you into signing for something you are unsure of. There is nothing worse than a pushy salesman. Either look for a new agent or chat to your current agent about his behaviour. Regardless of which option you choose, never allow yourself to be pressured into buying something you don't really want.

  • An agent who tries to dissuade you from viewing other properties with other agents. Buyers have every right to deal with as many agents as they like. The only time a problem could arise is if the buyer puts in an offer for a property that he originally viewed with another agent.

  • An agent who is rude or dismissive. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Don't be nervous about asking questions and never sign anything that you don't fully understand.

  • An agent who makes you feel that you are wasting his time. A buyer is fully entitled to view as many properties as he likes in order to make an informed decision.

  • Personality clashes. We all meet people we don't like (often for no apparent reason). Find an agent with whom you feel comfortable. Remember, this is business and while you don't need to forge a lifelong friendship with your agent, you do need to find one who is able to see all things property from a similar viewpoint.

Don't ever allow an agent to put you off the buying or selling process. Not all agents are always at the top of their game, and some are still in the process of becoming top dog. However, look for an agent who knows the area in which you are interested, has already concluded a number of sales and who is committed to the job. If you're unsure of who to pick, try asking friends and family for recommendations or chat to the principal of an agency in order to find someone who will make the procedure as pleasant as possible.

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