Tag Archives: Estate

Buying a Home? Watch Out For These Estate Agent Tricks

This is the second in a series of three articles warning home buyers and sellers about the main tricks estate agents use to get hold of your money. These articles are aimed at helping you avoid being fleeced by your estate agent.

Selling to buyers

Although we all know that agents are acting for sellers, many are experts in befriending buyers and getting them to feel that they are on our side, working to help us get the best property at the best price. If you’re buying a property you should be on your guard against several sales traps including the block, stock-shifting, pumping up the price, the spider’s web and the sealed-bid scam.

1. The Block

Of all estate agents’ tricks, the block is probably the one people least expect. Most of us assume agents want to sell properties to us and so it doesn’t occur to us that they may be interested in preventing us from buying. There are several reasons an agent might try to block us from buying a property. The most obvious is that they’ve planned a slash-and-grab for themselves or one of their contacts and so don’t want us to disrupt their plans by buying at a higher price than they’re offering. Another reason may be that the agent has a buyer who is also taking out a mortgage through that agent or an associate mortgage agent. The agent can earn almost as much commission from flogging the mortgage as from selling the property and so may be less interested helping a buyer with cash or who has organised their own mortgage. In both these cases, an agent may withhold our offers from a seller or, if they do pass on our offers, they may discourage the seller from accepting them by suggesting that we may not be in a good position to buy. An investigation by one journalist found that of six offers made to estate agents, only two were passed on to sellers.

2. The stock-shift

Buyers may be looking for their ideal home, but agents can only sell the properties they have on their books. Moreover, they have to shift their stock if they are to meet their sales targets. Unless an agent is lucky enough to have properties that perfectly match buyers’ requirements, the only way they can get their monthly bonus is by convincing buyers to take whatever they’ve got to sell. So the art of a successful agent is to influence buyers to compromise and take what is available rather than hold out for their dream property.

There are various ways of getting buyers to compromise. The easiest is to use fear to push you into making an offer. An agent may tell you that they have the perfect property, that this has just come on the market, but that you’ll have to move quickly before someone else snaps it up. Or if a buyer is hesitating, the agent will use the phantom buyer trick and claim that several other buyers are also interested. To add a little colour the agent may also say that one of the phantom buyers is a cash buyer and therefore in a much better position than you. Or an agent may arrange for several buyers to view a property at the same time. This is intended to make buyers believe that there is competition for the property and can lead to buyers being infected by auction-fever – always a great way to spur them into action and push the price up. Typically an agent will say that prices in the area are going up so if you don’t buy quickly, you’ll end up paying a lot more in a few months time. And there’s the sandwich – here the agent shows a buyer three properties with the first and the third being either unsuitable or out of their range and the middle one being closer to what they want. This helps create the impression in the buyer’s mind that there are few properties fitting their requirements and makes them more open to being fobbed off with something which is reasonably close to what they were looking for.

3. The price pump

Research has repeatedly shown that around 70% of buyers spend on average about 20% more for their homes than they had originally intended. So, whatever a buyer may say to an agent about their price limit, the agent already knows from experience that the large majority of buyers can be squeezed well above this if shown a property they like. The simplest way for the agent to push the price up is to claim that they already have several offers on a property, so if you’re interested, you’re going to have to put in a fairly juicy bid. Or else an agent may use the build-up – show you four or five properties, starting with the cheapest and moving on to the most expensive. Most buyers, when seeing a property they really like, will stretch their financial limit rather than letting the property go to someone else. Another tactic is to show you a home that is way above your financial limit. In comparison, any subsequent properties will seem reasonably priced. Or the agent could use the sneer – take you to an expensive property and then suggest that it’s a pity that you can’t stretch your budget to buy such a perfect home. This is particularly easy if the agent can use buyer’s partner or family to pile on the emotional pressure.

4. The spider’s web

In addition to sellers and property developers, agents have a wide web of people who can help them increase their earnings. For example, if an agent convinces a buyer to use a particular mortgage advisor or supposedly independent financial advisor, on an average loan the advisor will pocket about £2,000 and the agent £1,000 to £1,500. Even if a buyer has finance available, an agent might tell buyers that ‘it’s company policy’ to ensure that all buyers get the best loan deals available and so, whether you want it or not, the agent makes an appointment for you to meet a mortgage salesman with business connections to the agency.

Similarly, an agent will usually get generous kickbacks if they pass buyers onto lawyers and surveyors that they regularly work with. An added advantage of using lawyers and surveyors known to the agent is that they will tend to overlook problems with properties to enable sales to go through. In any town or even areas of a city, most agents, lawyers and surveyors will have worked together in the past and none will want to upset any of the others. So even when a buyer believes their lawyer and surveyor are representing their interests, it’s likely that the lawyer and surveyor will be more sensitive about ensuring continuing a good relationship with the estate agent rather than worrying about the interests of a buyer that they will probably never deal with again. When I began to question both my lawyer and surveyor about things they had apparently ‘overlooked’, the lawyer paid me £6,000 and the surveyor £2,500 – this may have been because they were terribly nice people and particularly liked me; or it may have been because they realised their cosy little arrangement with the estate agent had been rumbled and so were keen to avoid any possibly embarrassing explanations. Any buyer who gets caught in the spider’s web of the agent’s business associates may find it a very expensive experience.

5. Sealed-bid scams

If there are several buyers chasing a property, the seller and agent may ask all the potential purchasers to submit their ‘best and final’ offer in an envelope by a certain date and time with the understanding that the highest bid will be accepted. This is a wonderful way of getting the price up as buyers’ competitive natures can cloud their common sense. But the sealed bid process is open to abuse. For a start, the seller doesn’t have to accept the highest offer – a slightly lower cash offer may be preferable to a higher offer from someone who needs time to arrange finance. Also, once the bids are opened, the agent can easily go back to the bidder with the deepest pockets and suggest that if they increase their offer by a certain amount, then the property is theirs. If they think a potential buyer has access to more money, the agent can also lie about the level of the highest bid or invent a phantom bid in order to push the price higher. Or, if they want to do a slash-and-grab to get the property for themselves, a developer, a family member or friend, then an agent may withhold some bids.

How to Find the Right Real Estate Broker

Buying a property is a cumbersome process involving multiple steps. You need professional help to make it easy. In order to achieve success in this objective, you have to find a certified property agent who makes the entire process smooth, without any glitches or delays. As this profession has no screening method to allow entry to upright brokers only, any person can become a broker. Therefore, it is a challenge to get the right agent. Certain measures are important in this regard – to be safe rather than regret later.

What you can do is to select the area in which you plan to buy a property and then ask local contacts to recommend a broker without any sullied record. The initial filter works well as you are likely to get some recommendations. The next step involves seeking verified brokers. Some progressive states in different locations require property agents to register themselves with the government. Only those verified can operate legally. Now with strict regulations in the real estate sector coming into force, you can look for a property portal that allows only certified agents to operate. Sign up with a verified agent for your real estate needs and stay away from shady operators.

Services

Is the agent right if he just fixes the deal, takes his commission and goes his way? Absolutely not. You are not looking for an agent who is a professional only in money matters. Your search for the right agent is over when you find an agent who is willing to perform all his duties as a professional and give you complete peace of mind. The real estate agent must prepare a shortlist of suitable properties and show you the ones matching your specifications. Once you have chosen a property, the stage of price negotiation between the buyer and the seller should be handled carefully as many good deals fall apart because of lack of patience and extra effort which the agent is required to put in.

The agent should do homework about the property records. He should introduce you to a good lawyer who authenticates the documents. As you are busy with your work, you do not get time to visit the registrar offices for searching records, to establish whether the seller is the actual owner or there are other undisclosed co-owners. Preparing the schedule of payment and agreement papers is also the job of the agent. He should structure the deal in such a way that the client is not cheated. That is why it is said that finding the right agent is a tough task. But it is not impossible. You need to plan it carefully and conduct initial checks. If you do not remain wise in selecting the agent, you are likely to encounter serious problems later.

Unscrupulous Agents

As there are many shady dealers operating in the market, you run the risk of being cheated in several ways. He could make you buy a disputed property or a one enmeshed in litigation despite knowing the reality. Also, he could make you invest in a project likely to be delayed or buy from a developer who lacks the financial capacity to complete the project. An agent should not charge you more than the fixed commission.

A buyer should be aware of certain aspects of the property market and familiar with the tricks of agents. To get more relief, he should find out if there is an online portal where only certified agents are allowed to operate. Then, at least he knows right from the beginning that he is looking at the genuine players and he is going to select a top-rated agent with good reviews on the portal.

How to Sell a House: Tips From Real Estate Agents

With the country’s declining real estate market, a home seller can easily sell a house if they lower the price. But for others who can’t afford to lower their asking price, it is best to find other ways to make their home more attractive.

Real estate agents are familiar with the trends in the industry. They are also very knowledgeable about selling homes and choosing the right homes. For this reason, we have come up with a list of house selling tips from successful real estate agents.

Make The House Stand Out From The Competition

It is very important for the property to attract potential buyers. Home sellers should consider custom designs or adding a few design touches, such as improving the landscape, or updating the roof and windows. These simple touches can have significant impact in improving the home’s aesthetics. It is important to avoid over-improving the house. For instance, renovating the bathroom and kitchen may not always pay.

Clean The Clutter

Before listing the property in the market, it is crucial to first clean the clutter from the home. Clutter will turn off potential buyers because they cannot picture themselves living in the house. As a tip, consider removing a few unnecessary furniture pieces to make the space look bigger. You should also keep family pictures and other personal items into storage so that potential buyers can imagine themselves staying in the house.

Staging the house is very important. You may want to hire a professional for the job. This may cost additional expense but it will be worth it. Real estate agents believe that a professional stager can make the home more attractive and salable.

The Price Is Right

No matter how you stage your house or how much space you renovated, it is very important to price the property appropriately. An agent can help you determine the right price for your property. You can also hire a property appraiser for the job. It doesn’t matter whether you are offering the lowest price in the neighborhood, especially if your home is very appealing and if you have made significant improvements to your home. It is important, however, that the listing price will not be so far-fetched with the other comparable homes in the market.

Selling a house in a slow real estate market will require patience and perseverance. Make sure that the house is in good condition and hire a credible agent to help you sell the house faster. Following these tips will help increase your chances of getting a good deal for your property.