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5 Things to Ask Before Choosing Your Real Estate Agent

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  • Queen of sgForums
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    • Five Important Things to Ask Before Choosing Your Real Estate Agent

       

      Once you’ve decided to buy a property, a key step is finding a real estate agent who can help you achieve your goal. Not enlisting an agent is, in fact, one of the biggest mistakes a homebuyer can make. For that matter, the same is true if you want to offload your property.

      But how exactly do you go about choosing the right agent for you? In January 2017, the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) reported that there are 1,286 licensed property agencies and 28,397 registered property agents operating in Singapore. The CEA didn’t give a breakdown of whether the agents are full-time or part-time. Nevertheless, that’s almost 30,000 candidates to choose from.

      And if you’re a serious property hunter, you’re going to be spending quite a lot of time with him or her. So picking the right one is essential. Don’t pick someone with whom you’re so chummy that you can’t have a serious conversation about finances, or someone you feel uncomfortable disagreeing with. The ideal agent is someone who’s experienced, professional, fair and ethical. He or she must be able to provide a good listening ear, address your concerns and be willing to fight for the best deal for you.

      To start off, you might ask your circle of friends, family, colleagues or business associates for recommendations. Once you’ve compiled a list of names, the next step is to screen these agents. Think of it as a casting call for the lead role in your movie – the one where you find the home of your dreams! A quick call to go over a few basic – but thoroughly essential – questions will help narrow the selection. Here are five of the most important questions you need to ask.

       

       

      1. “How long have you been in the business?”

      Experience counts, and here’s why: the more transactions an agent has handled, the better he/she is equipped to handle negotiations, fight for deals, and manage any problems should they arise. Also, agents are commission-based. Like any business that relies on customers for survival, – much less in the cutthroat world of real estate – it would be very difficult for an agent to last long if he/she provided lousy service. Plus, in this era of social media, an agent with a bad rep would find himself/herself out of business pretty soon.

       

      2. “Will I be working directly with you or with one of your associates?”

      Some of the best agents are also the top producers in their agencies. What this means is that they’re likely to be team leaders, with a chain of junior agents and administrative assistants in their downline. The top producers may occasionally delegate some tasks to them. Just bear in mind that it may not be possible for top producers to handle all aspects of your transactions. And as these agents are very busy individuals, they may not be at your beck and call 24/7.

       

       

      3. “Do you have any references I can contact?”

      Until such time that a Yelp for real estate agents becomes available, your best bet when ascertaining the legitimacy of your agent is by contacting their past customers. Just as you would research a product online before buying it, hearing from a third party can be useful in providing peace of mind. Just note that more experienced agents may take offence when asked for references, in which case, just move on to the next candidate.

      4. “How much do you charge?”

      There is no fixed commission rate for real estate agents in Singapore; all commissions are negotiable. That said, there is a prevailing market rate: for buyers of HDB flats, it’s 1% of the purchase price. For sellers of HDBs, it’s 2% of the selling price. Both of these are subject to 7% GST if the agents hail from GST-registered agencies. For buyers of private properties, agents typically don’t charge commission; instead, they split the commission with the seller’s agent, usually 2% of the selling price.

       

       

      5. “What’s your strategy for my needs?”

      A good agent will have an array of strategies and marketing plans that he/she can deploy depending on the needs of the customer. For buyers, you’ll need to know how your agent intends to search for your property, how many properties he/she intends to shortlist, and whether or not he/she has other buyers competing for the same type of property. For sellers, you’ll need to know how your agent intends to market your property, how frequently he/she will advertise, and through what media channels he/she intends to do so.

       

      yahoo

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