ADVICE ON HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR ESTATE AGENT
Property expert Peter Bowerman gives advice on selling your Costa del Sol property. You would think that with 320 days of sunshine a year, fabulous “blue flag” Mediterranean beaches, Europe’s best golf courses and amazing luxury lifestyle, that property on the Costa del Sol would sell itself. But even in Europe’s favourite sunshine destination selling your property is not as straight forward as you might imagine. For example, an Agent in a typical UK residential town would simply put your property in his high street shop window, advertise in the local paper and phone a few clients that were waiting to buy in your part of town. However, selling properties in one of the worlds favourite destinations means we have to market to buyers all over the world. Typical marketing budgets of a successful Costa Del Sol Agent would make you wince.
A good Costa del Sol Agent needs to have a number of websites targeting different buyers to generate a good database of thousands of clients. The websites should offer a number of languages with new properties added nearly everyday to keep search engine and client interest. They should advertise all over Europe in the best property / lifestyle magazines and for maximum exposure, your agent should also promote your property on all the best Spanish property portals (which are viewed all over the world). They would need experienced staff to contact all client enquires by phone to discuss their property criteria, motivation, finance and then follow up by email with all the most suitable properties discussed. After a number of calls and emails an experienced Agent would be able to tell which clients are just window shopping and those actively ready to buy now. These clients would then need help preparing their trip, and accommodation. The professional Agents would collect the clients from their hotel or airport to typically spend two days viewing properties all along the coast, until they find their perfect combination of property, location and price.
This is just the start of the Agent’s job, they then need to take them to lawyers who speak their own language, mortgage brokers/banks, furniture companies, builders and architects if they need quotes on any redecoration or refurbishment work. Then, following the conveyancing process from start to finish and keeping everyone informed, right up to completion, when we get to hand over the keys to the new buyer. Hopefully, now you can understand why choosing the right Agent is so important. As although you decide to put your property on the market, it is the Real Estate company that actually sells it for you. This critical decision can make the difference between selling at a good price or not selling at all. SO
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT AGENT?
Firstly, don’t feel obligated or pressured to use the Estate Agent you bought or rented through, as they might not have the resources needed to get you the best price. Avoid any on-line only agents or agents asking for money up front, as they have no budget to market your property properly and they have already made their money, so why would they waste any of their profit by spending it trying to actually sell your property.
Choose an experienced professional Agent that you can see is currently marketing a lot in the local property magazines and has a good reputation. A good Agent will invest in marketing to ensure they get the best price, however, a poor Agent will simply put it in their window and website and wait for someone to stumble across it. Although the Agent works for you, you should listen to what the Agent has to say, as they are in the best position to know all the prices of property on the market and what is being sold in your area. After they value your property make sure they justify it by using comparable evidence. It is essential the Agent has a good sales team who are enthusiastic to sell your property to the buyers. You also need the valuer to be strong enough in character, to give honest advise on valuation and to say if messy rooms need to be tided. A weak Agent will simply tell you what you want to hear, in fear you may give the property to another Agent, if they do not please you. This does not help the seller at all and nearly always ends up in a no sale.
It’s very important that the valuer asks for all the relevant paperwork on your property. Not only is this a legal requirement but it also gives the buyer the confidence to view and purchase your property. Paperwork needed; an up to date Nota Simple (land registry), 1st Occupation License if the property is under 15 years old (confirming inspected & legally finished), Escritura or Copia Simple (Deeds), IBI receipt (council tax), recent Electric and Water Bill, EEC or EPC (10 year Energy Certificate), Copy of NIE or Passport (proof of identity) and copies of any Community Fees. If the Agent doesn’t ask for all this information they are not professional, so don’t use them. For your security and to stop time wasters, the Agent should have qualified the client by testing contact details and knowledge of how they intend to finance the purchase. Importantly, they should accompany their clients on every viewing. You should only be asked to pay commission on completion, once they have sold your property “NO SALE, NO FEE”, this gives the Agent all the motivation they need to actually sell your property and see it through to the end.
You are advised to always use a “Master Agency”, a more professional real estate business that actually list (takes on) all their own properties. The Master Agency values, photographs, gathers all the relevant paperwork needed for the sale and heavily promotes the property directly as well as via a large network of local and overseas Estate Agents. The network of Agents in turn promote the Master Agents’ properties to an even wider field of potential buyers for a split of the sales commission. Using a Master Agent has three major advantages; 1, You only have to deal and give keys to one professional firm that will co-ordinate and accompany all viewings from a large network of Estate Agents. 2, A Master Agent will be adding new properties on their website nearly everyday which as we mentioned before will keep potential buyers’ interest and rank higher in internet search engines. 3, Potential buyers will always prefer to use a Master Agency, as the Agents they are talking to on the phone will actually have a clear understanding of the properties they are selling, meaning they can marry up properties to clients much quicker, rather than use Agents were they know little or nothing about the shared properties they are advertising.
A Sole Agency gives the Agent the confidence they need to spend more money on marketing your property, as they know they have a fair chance of making their money back. If you sign a Sole Agency agreement, make sure it is with a Master Agency as above and that the agreement has a finish time, max 6 months, normally. Never sign an agreement that commits you to paying the Agent just for finding you a “READY, WILLING AND ABLE PURCHASER” as this would mean you still have to pay the Agent even if you have to pull out, due to unforeseen circumstances.
Most importantly, check they have a nice high street office and sales team, as you will be surprised how many of the Costa del Sol Agents advertising in local papers and nice websites are one man bands working from their bedroom, with no staff support and no real chance of promoting or selling your property. Many of these one man bands look very professional at first glance, with thousands of properties on their website, but they simply pay a €150 a month to get a sharp looking web page with thousands of often out of date property listings, that some property portals offer. Ask the questions!!!!! and if you are overseas looking for a good Agent, but can’t physically visit the offices, check the internet for actual photos of the office and team for reassurance.
Peter is one of the most published Costa del Sol property experts in both the UK & Spanish press, having spent most of his working life as a professional Real Estate Agent and Valuer. He is also the Managing Director of one of the most successful Master Estate Agencies on the Costa Del Sol, which has registered offices in both Marbella and La Cala de Mijas. It goes without saying that his Master Agency obviously conforms with all of the above and a lot more besides. For more information on buying or selling your property on the Costa del Sol, contact us.
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