Advice and Opinion

Essential questions for buyers to ask an estate agent

Estate Agency generic

While an estate agent typically represents a seller in any residential property transaction, they also act as a liaison between the buyer and seller and work closely with buyers to find them a suitable property and navigate the finance process among other services.

Debbie Justus-Ferns, divisional manager of Renprop Residential Sales, says that it is just as important for buyers to have a good working relationship with their agent as it is for sellers. “Buyers need to be able to trust the estate agent they work with and be confident that they will get good, knowledgeable and professional insight into the areas and particular properties they are looking at purchasing, as well as general solid advice around the property investment.”

But, Justus-Ferns points out that in order to get the best information from an estate agent, buyers also need to ask the right kind of questions. She has put together a master list of questions buyers should ask the estate agent they are looking to work with to establish a good flow of communication and create realistic expectations:

About the agent:

1.    Do you have a current fidelity fund certificate to operate as an estate agent?

2.     How long have you worked in the areas I am interested in purchasing in?

About the buying boundaries and timing:

1.    How much can I purchase for?

2.    How long does it take to register a property?

3.    What is the transfer process?   

4.    Which properties offer the best value?

About a specific area(s):

1.    What are the best areas in which to purchase?

2.    What are the areas that offer the best return?

3.    In which areas have you seen the property values rise above other areas

4.    What is crime like in these areas?

5.    What is the traffic like in this area?

6.    Which schools would you recommend?

7.    Are there any land claims in the area?

About a specific property: 

1.    What are the transfer costs?

2.    How long has the property been listed on the market?

3.    What was the original listing price of the property?

4.    Why is the owner selling?

5.    How old is the property?

6.    What is the size of the property building?

7.    What is size of the land?

8.    Is there dedicated parking for my unit?

9.    Are there approved building plans for this property?

10.  Are there any defects in the property that I am to be made aware of?

11.  Are the municipal rates up to date?

12.  What are the monthly costs of the rates, water, electricity, sewerage, and refuse removal?

13.  Is the body corporate financially solvent?

14.  Will the seller repair any of the patent defects that are visible?

15.  What are the rules of the body corporate/home owners association?

16.  Does the property have security measures in place and is it linked to an armed response company?

In conclusion Justus-Ferns notes that the more prepared buyers are for the process and costs involved with buying a property, as well as specific details of the area they are interested in and property they are looking at buying, the less chance of buyer’s remorse or nasty surprises and the higher the chance of finding a property that is a perfect fit.