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Choose your estate agent wisely

Buying a home is a big deal as is selecting the right agent. As estate agent Majella Galvin explains, it’s not always straightforward!

You’ve found a property you’d like to buy, listed through an estate agent in town. As you contemplate making an offer, a question arises: Should you also engage this agent to sell your current property? Is using the same estate agent for both transactions the right choice?

On a surface level dealing with one person might seem more convenient and of course you may feel the agent is even more incentivised to sell your property, knowing that it must be sold if they are to complete the sale of the property you want to buy. But is selecting an agent on this basis alone a wise move? If you look a little deeper, you’ll see that instructing an estate agent to sell your home solely because they’re handling the sale of a property you wish to buy doesn’t convey any special advantages while it excludes many other considerations.

Many individuals mistakenly believe that by employing the same agent, they can orchestrate a scenario where the agent sells their home, enabling them to purchase the other property seamlessly. However, it’s crucial to remember that an agent is legally obligated to act in the best interest of the seller, not the buyer. While in America and Australia it’s common to have separate buyer’s and seller’s agents, in Ireland, this isn’t always the case.

As we all know selling and buying a house here, especially with the current lack of supply, can be a challenging process. Do you really want to complicate matters further by entering into an arrangement with an agent who is involved on both sides of the deal.  I think by doing so you are putting yourself in a double jeopardy situation while the potential conflict of interests for the agent is a flashing red light which cannot be ignored. While it does happen here – and one can see how it does in smaller places where there might be a limited number of agents, or the agent knows both parties – I would recommend avoiding if at all possible. Recently I came across a situation which demonstrated how this type of situation can be open to abuse.

A buyer was informed by an agent that their offer could only be accepted if they also enlisted the same agent to sell their property. This coercive tactic is unethical and unacceptable. Buyers should never feel pressured into using a specific agent for their own property sale. The decision should be entirely theirs, free from manipulation or interference.

Some buyers may opt to buy and sell with the same agent, for the reasons outlined above, but under no circumstances should buyers feel forced to do so. Anyone who finds themselves in this situation should contact the Property Service Regulatory Authority (PSRA) – the body which regulates estate agents in Ireland – immediately and make a complaint.

So, how do you go about picking the right estate agent? Researching the local market is a key first step. Look at similar properties to your own and see the prices they have gone for with different agents. Identify a couple of agents who you feel would be a good fit and then check out the PSRA or SCSI websites to check that they’re fully licensed and adhere to a code of conduct. Fully licensed agents will have their PSRA license number displayed. Look for agents who employ diverse marketing strategies, including video tours, professional photography, and an active social media presence, to effectively showcase your property. Since online visuals often form the first impression for potential buyers, robust marketing is essential. You want as many people as possible both here and abroad to see your property and that’s where well-coordinated social and online strategies come to the fore. Word of mouth recommendations can be really useful while Google reviews can also often provide valuable insights into past clients’ experiences.

However, beyond these practical considerations, establishing a rapport with the agent is paramount. As you’ll be entrusting them with one of your most significant assets, effective communication, mutual trust, and a strong working relationship are essential. As the adage goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and if you find it difficult to get to speak to an agent or to arrange an initial meeting, that’s a potential red flag right away.

Arrange meetings with several reputable agents at your home to gauge compatibility and to learn about their experience and approach.

For example, what do you do when one agent’s recommended selling price is far higher than the others? First of all, it’s important not to be dazzled by an inflated selling price. Ask them what they are basing that on. Do they have proof in the form of recent sales to support the higher valuation.

A similar question can arise with fees? Generally, they range from 1 to 2% excluding marketing. Selecting an agent on the basis of a lower fee might not necessarily be the correct choice and could end up costing you in the long run.

Getting the timing right when selling and buying a property is hugely important. In Ireland right now it takes an average of three to six months to sell a home. Getting to the sale agreed stage is an important milestone but the process is not over at that point, far from it. This is where lengthy and frustrating conveyancing delays can kick in and where the efficiency of your own agent as well as their relationships with other agents and solicitors will be vital in getting contracts signed. How they respond to questions about this and other queries about recording bids, regularity of updates to clients and the social media and marketing strategies they employ etc will enable you to make an informed choice. And don’t forget to read the contract carefully before signing.

Whether you’re buying or selling, remember that the right estate agent is the one who provides exemplary service and prioritises your best interests. Trust your instincts, do your research, and make the decision that’s best for you and your property journey.

Selling a property in Bandon, Clonakilty, kinsale, cork or west cork?

Get in contact with DNG Galvin, we have over 40 years experience selling property throughout county cork.

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