We have all undoubtedly heard that estate agents are basically out to fleece both buyers and sellers and that they earn far too much money for doing very little. Fortunately, while there may be those who don't practice according to the Estate Agency Affairs Board Code of Conduct, the majority of agents do and as such want the best for their clients.
This makes perfect sense - satisfied clients not only return to use the agent's services time and time again, they also refer them to friends and family. So how do you recognise a good agent and what should you do when you find someone who has your best interests at heart?
Put any notions regarding the state of the property market in the area in which you are buying out of your head and heed rational advice. Agents generally specialise in a certain area and therefore know what's on the market at what price, even if the property is not on their own books. They also know prices and will be able to tell a buyer what he can expect to get for his money.
They also know a good deal when they see one, which again, given their level of expertise is hardly surprising. What is surprising is that buyers often ignore sound advice, believing that an agent makes things up in order to secure a quick sale. This leads to regret later when they realise that they have missed out on a seriously good deal.
Of course there are 'bad eggs' around. However, reputable real estate agencies don't tolerate those who don't conform to the high standards expected and those who fail to meet expectations tend to move from one office to the next. Such agents often don't bother registering with the EAAB, practice without the legally required Fidelity Fund certificate and, more often than not, don't have a solid sales record.
Talking of sales records, good agents consistently sell well, regardless of the market conditions. The numbers may dip during a recession but good agents remain on top of their game, regardless of the state of the economy. Luck generally doesn't feature in an agent's career and those who consistently sell well do so for a reason - they have strong relationships with their clients which generally don't end once a sales agreement has been signed.
Buying property is a complex process and things can go wrong before transfer takes place. Of course agents have a vested interest in the sale, given that the commission is only paid once a property has been registered in the new owner’s name. However, not all agents have the necessary knowledge to successfully conclude a deal that has gone off the rails and in such cases, the buyer could be left to his or her own devices.
Your choice of agent is important and it is therefore highly advisable to work with someone you not only trust, but who has the knowledge and skill required to see the deal through to a successful conclusion.