So your new in Bloemfontein, looking to buy a house and have no idea which of the 100+ estate agents operating in the city to choose. Luckily you will only need to speak to an estate agent for a couple of minutes to realize if he/she is truly an expert and willing to help you with your property needs. Why not google the estate agent's name and see how active the agent is not only offline, but also online.
Ask friends and family for referrals - if they have dealt with estate agents before, they should be able to assist you with this very important task. Your estate agent could become your next best friend. Here follow some tips and pointers to help you to choose the right estate agent for you.
Find out which Estate Agents are active in the areas you're interested in
Take a drive and look at some estate agent boards in the area you want to buy a house in, those are usually the estate agents involved in that particular area and they will know the area and what it has to offer best.
If you think you found your ideal estate agent, ask around about them and when you go to meet them, ask them a few questions in relation to how long they've been doing this, ask a few questions about laws pertaining property transactions and have a nice little casual talk to get a feel for how much your estate agent knows, whether he's confident and experienced or just nervous and dodgy! The easiest way to do this would probably to just 'google' their name and the city where they are located. For instance, go to google and type in the search field "john doe bloemfontein". Google will return all articles/blogs where the agent has been mentioned or blogged. If google doesn't return any search results, it might be wise to start looking for an estate agent that has an "online reputation".
Ask to see the agents Fidelity Fund Certificate
This is a certificate issued by The Estate Agency Affairs Board. If your estate agent doesn't have one, he's not serious about what he does! This certificate is issued only to estate agents who comply with the conduct rules set forth by the Estate Agents Code Of Conduct, asking to see the certificate is a good way to separate the good from the bad. Only Estate Agents who are serious about what they do will have a Fidelity Fund Certificate.
Estate Agent commission
It's never fun to fork out money but remember this is your estate agent's bread and butter, his salary, what you give him in exchange for his professional service. Make sure however though that you don't end up paying your estate agent more or less than he's worth! It should always be a win-win situation.
It goes without saying that your real estate agent should not only have a strong online presence, but a strong online marketing strategy as well. A qualified and truly professional estate should at least advertise his/her client's properties on the following platforms:
- Property 24 & SA Hometraders
- Company Website (hopefully the company is an national or an international real estate firm)
- Own Private Website
- Blogs - agent should be blogging or at least leave comments on real estate topics/websites
- Email Marketing - Inform his database of clients about new properties and property related news
- Have a Facebook page that is regularly updated (at least once a week) with relevant property tips and news
- Engage in social media websites like YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn
- Providing additional services like high quality photographs, video and virtual tours
Once again, if your agent is 'missing' in the online world, you may want to continue your search for a agent that makes use of modern technology to sell his/her client's property quicker. Just go and google the estate agent's name and location.
Estate Agents love to make promises regarding advertising your property in local papers, in their windows or on sale signs but many of them never deliver, despite having made that promise. Make sure you get all promises your estate agent makes in writing before appointing him, especially if you're giving him a sole mandate selling right!
Be very careful, if you're a seller and you've put your property in with more than one estate agent. Make sure that two agencies don't bring the same buyer to your property. If the buyer sees the property through both estate agencies and then decides to buy it through the second one, you are liable to pay both estate agents their full commission amount! If you notice two agencies have the same person interested in your property alert them immediately to prevent this.