As good as Property Portals are, as a window into the world of property, it’s very important to make contact with physical Estate Agents at the start of your search. New properties will be advertised to serious buyers before pictures have been taken, floorplans drawn up and details go on the web.
If the first you know of a new property is it appearing on the agents website, or seeing it on a property portal like Rightmove or Zoopla, then you aren’t on the ‘serious buyer list.’ If you want to secure your ideal property, at the right price, with the least competition from other buyers, you need to appear a serious buyer!
How do I Show I am a Serious Buyer?
A. Be a serious buyer! If you are only ‘flirting’ with buying or wanting to get an idea of properties, be honest. You will still be sent updates, and when you become a serious buyer, let the agent know and they will be thankful and promote you to the ‘priority call’ list.
B. Personal Contact. You should search for a list of all the agents in your chosen area (you’ll find the names popping up on property portal search results). Ensure you include all the small agents in your list.
At a minimum phone every agent during working hours and create a specific contact. Much better is to take the time to drop in and visit each Agency in person. Why? Simple: agents are only interested in serious buyers. Too many people register by email or web for property updates, then never view or buy anything. Property viewing has become somewhat of a national sport – especially in London!
Calling on the phone, or in person, shows the agent you are serious. They will prioritise who they call when new properties become available. You need to be at the top of this list (in the first batch of phone calls they make) otherwise good properties will sell before you even know of them.
C. Honest, Specific requirements. Let the agent know:
Price range (and if you have any scope to extend over your maximum price for a ‘special property’)
Buying circumstances (do you need to sell, how much deposit do you have)
‘Must have requirements’ (2 bedrooms, lift access, no busy roads)
‘Nice to have requirements’ (outside space, near a park)
Absolute ‘no no’s’ (perhaps you hate mock tudor or basement flats, let the agent know)
The more the agent knows upfront, the less of your (and their) time will be wasted on alerting you to properties you won’t like. It also shows you have thought about your purchase and makes you look professional.
Giving each agent your requirements opens up a conversation around the number of available properties and if you are realistically going to find what you want in that area. That conversation gives you a reality check and keeps you in the Agents mind, for when your ideal property comes up.
D. Politeness. Always be polite to agents (they are humans too – honest! and will treat you, how you treat them!). Respond with Honest feedback, when they give you an initial list of properties or new properties and Always after a viewing. If you are called about a property or go on a viewing you aren’t helping the agent if you don’t give feedback. How will they know if they should show you a similar property? They may just think you are a time-waster.
It is okay to give this feedback by email if you prefer. It may well be you just don’t “feel” the property. That’s hard for an agent to interpret so give them something specific, for example: too close to the main road; don’t like the layout; I want a kitchen next to the lounge; communal parts too grotty.
Agents will not only appreciate this feedback, they’ll save you time on future viewings by only calling you on properties that don’t have your dislikes. Sometimes they can suggest solutions to your concerns: they may know communal parts will be refurbished soon, that a traffic calming scheme is planned, or that another flat in the block has reconfigured their property the way you would like and they can show you as they rented it for the owner.
If an agent hasn’t called you in while, a nice touch is to call or email and say “just to say we haven’t noticed any new properties listed with you that fit our criteria, yet we’re still actively looking, so hopefully you’ll find our dream property soon!” This is polite, gets you noticed and keeps you in the frame as a serious buyer.
E. Keep them informed. Often buyers start a search then change their mind about certain things. You may realise you only like new-build, turnkey properties. Maybe you only want to live in a small part of your chosen postcode. Perhaps you would consider properties that are further away from the tube or train station. As your mind changes, let your agent know. They will make notes, ensure they show you properties they wouldn’t have before and they know you are still serious!