A question I’m often asked is what is the main difference between a buying agent and an estate agent? People are familiar with the estate agent offices on the high street, however buying agents are a rarer breed.
The biggest difference is that buying agents work for, and are paid by, the buyer. Estate agents work for, and are paid by the seller, even though they need to work with buyers all the time to achieve sales for their customers. Could the difference in numbers between estate agents and buying agents be rooted in human behaviour? A successful property transaction for a vendor leads to a large cash sum reduced only by estate agents’ fees (typically around 0.5 – 2%) and conveyancing fees – a widely recognised part of the process. On the other hand, a successful purchase of a property could mean parting with a large sum of money, negotiating a mortgage, paying stamp duty, conveyancing and surveying fees plus buying agent fees (often around 1 – 2%) – perhaps a more painful feeling. Most buying agents tend to focus on the premium end of the market, where availability is less and buyers perhaps more willing to pay for a very detailed, personal service.
So, why use one? Put simply, a good buying agent should increase your chances of finding and securing the right home at the best available price. Whilst a buying agent is unlikely to guarantee to save you money, they should be negotiating to secure the best outcome and you could recoup some, all or more than your fee as a result of their skilful negotiation on your behalf. In addition to looking at properties on the market, buying agents also have access to properties off market (those not visible on the familiar portals or the window of the estate agent). Buying agents can also work with surveyors, financial planners and solicitors to keep everything on track to exchange of contracts. They will be on hand to provide key contacts for any repairs or renovations that may be required post purchase.
So, how do you find a great buying agent? The first thing is to find one that shares the same focus as your property search. For example, if you are looking to buy a premium property in Sheffield, try to find a buying agent that specialises in that market. If a buying agent claims to cover too large a geography (rural searches excepted) or price range, it is unlikely that they’ll have the level of detailed property knowledge to turbocharge your property search. Remember that your requirements may go beyond the bricks and mortar to include advice on local schools, commuting times, planned property development etc. Some buying agents used to be estate agents or surveyors, but others have a more varied background which can bring additional perspective. Life experience, property experience and that intangible feeling that the agent has ‘walked in your shoes’ counts for a lot. Do they really have personal and/or professional experience of the kind of property you are looking to buy and even more crucial, the kind of lifestyle you are striving to create? For example, if you are looking for an executive home to suit a growing family, is this a situation that the agent will have faced in their own life?
Remember to ask to speak to previous clients. Recommendations on websites and Google are interesting but you simply cannot beat the opportunity to ask questions of a previous client that has experienced the service. Finally, any good buying agent will offer a free no-obligation chat to talk you through the service and at the very least, you should get some valuable advice. This is also the ideal time to see if the personal chemistry works. You’re going to spend a lot of time together (email, phone and in person), you should at least make sure that you will get along!
If you are looking for your next home in the Harrogate area and are looking for an edge then get in touch for a free no obligation chat.
Sheree Foy, Principal Partner and Buying Agent
Source Harrogate – the Property Finders