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Buyers Guide to Estate Agents

Despite their bad reputation and many peoples aversion to using their services, estate agents remain the most common channel for buying or selling property in the UK; the exception is Scotland, where solicitors are more commonly used.

When you are looking to buy a property, the likelihood is that you will end up using an estate agent and so the aim of this guide is to offer some suggestions that will make the experience as pleasant, efficient, and successful as possible.

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Why use an agent?

Using an estate agent to help find yourself a property is worth doing as they will essentially do the searching for you and will help to make sure you are immediately aware of, and therefore do not miss, anything on the market that might be suitable for your requirements.

It is a free service and so you should aim to register with as many different agents as you can to increase the range of properties that will be brought to your attention. This in turn will increase your chances of quickly finding the right property for you.

Ignoring the sales patter

Estate agents are essentially salesman and so you should expect a certain amount of exaggeration and bias towards the properties they are representing. It is worth reminding yourself once in a while that, although the property belongs to the seller, the agent is working for the seller and you should therefore take anything that they say with a pinch of salt; after all, they will benefit directly from any sales and it is heavily in their interest that you chose one of their properties.

The estate agent will of course be bound by law in terms of being deliberately misleading. However, with a little experience in putting a positive spin on things, an agent can get extremely competent when it comes to being economical with the truth. It pays to be cautious, for example, when reading about cosy living spaces if you do not want to waste your time and energy viewing a flat that is more cramped than cosy.

Be wary of the agent's offers of financial help

When using the service of certain estate agents they will ask you whether you require any assistance in finding a mortgage. The finance arms of an estate agent are likely to offer you the most competitive deal, but only from a very limited sample. It is therefore much more likely that you will get the best deal available from an independent mortgage broker who has access to all the deals on the market and then offer you the best one.

The agent's legal and surveyor recommendations

Most estate agents will also recommend solicitors and surveyors who will probably offer a cheaper service than one from the Yellow Pages as a result of all of the work that the estate agent sends their way.

As with any solicitor though, it is still in your interest, regarding comeback in case of an unforeseen problem, to check that they are members of the relevant Law Society. You should also check to ensure that any surveyor you work with belongs to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

You are by no means obliged to use the solicitor or surveyor that is recommended by your agent. Feel free to compare the quotes from the recommended legal workers and surveyors with the rates charged by other independent solicitors or surveyors to ensure that you are, in fact, getting the best deal available.

Get the agent on your side

Getting in early on a property can be just the advantage you need over other potential suitors. It is therefore in your interest to make sure that your estate agent takes you seriously and sees you as a reliable customer so that they instantly think of you if a new property matching your criteria comes onto their books.

To get your agent on side, or to ensure that they are taking you seriously, be sure to organise your finances in advance and let them know exactly where you stand, promptly arrange viewings when a potential property comes on the market, and always turn up on time for viewings.

THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SECURING OTHER DEBTS AGAINST YOUR HOME. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE.

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