Buying or selling a house is a major investment for anyone. It can be difficult and stressful to manage the legalities and liaise with potential sellers/buyers. For this reason more people than ever before are choosing to use estate agents as middle men in the buying and selling process.
A report in Rightmove lists the things that an estate agent will help you do as a seller. These include providing a valuation, marketing your property through their extensive channels, conducting viewings, negotiating offers between buyers and sellers and generally helping to oversee the sale and ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible.
But what else do you need to know if you are thinking about selling or buying a property with the help of an estate agent?
You will find that an estate agent will usually give you a recommendation or referral for a chosen mortgage lender and solicitor and a structural survey cost when you begin the buying or selling process with them. They may try to insist that their chosen solicitor will ensure the process is sped up or discounted. This isn’t always the case. It’s worth remembering that the estate agents will get a cut of any business brought to the solicitor through referral fees. So if you already have a chosen solicitor or mortgage lender in mind, then don’t be swayed by the agent unless there is a clear incentive in it for you. Otherwise you are merely helping to line the pockets of the estate agent.
The Estate Agent Works for the Seller
As a buyer it is worth remembering that the estate agent works for the seller. They are employed by them to sell their house as quickly as possible for the best possible price. And they will get commission on whatever the property sells for, so it’s in their interests to try to encourage any potential buyers to spend as much as possible. For this reason, as a buyer it is important to keep your cards close to your chest with regards to income and the highest amount you’re willing to pay, at least until the time comes for you to decide on and make an official offer.
All Offers Have to Be Passed On
On the subject of offers, an estate agent has a legal obligation to pass on any offer that a buyer puts in – providing it is over any minimum offer set by the sellers (if there is one). So while the estate agents will probably be hoping that you’ll part with as much cash as possible, they do have to forward any offer on to the sellers for consideration. So don’t be afraid to go in a little lower as a buyer to begin with. It could work in your favour if the sellers want a quick sale.
When it comes to obligations, the estate agent also has a legal and moral duty to inform the buyer about any potential issues with the house. If they choose to withhold information that could later affect the quality of living for the new buyers, then they can find themselves in legal difficulty. So ensure that you ask all of the relevant questions about your new property. Has it been up for sale before? How long has it been on the market? Is there a chain? And perhaps most importantly, are there any issues that may put me off buying this property? It’s a little like a structural survey cost – it will flag up any unpleasant or costly issues that might be associated with the house and likely to arise once the sale has been completed and it’s too late to backtrack. It may include things such as high crime rates, bad neighbours, poor maintenance of the property and so on. But without asking the right questions, the estate agent is unlikely to offer this information to you voluntarily.
You Can Also Look Elsewhere
You don’t have to wholly rely on an estate agent to find out every detail about the property. Sometimes you might feel more comfortable sourcing this information yourself, and there are plenty of ways to find it. Property portals can tell you how much the house has been bought and sold for the in the past, and you can also get some information about the predicted cost of bills from the EPC register. This will also give you some indication of how energy-efficient the property is.