Top tips for finding a good overseas property agent
You need a reliable real estate agent on your side, who will be able to help you find the right place to suit all your requirements, and who will support you throughout the property-buying process.
Elaine Ferguson, head of the resource centre at OverseasGuidesCompany.com, publishers of buying guides in over 15 countries, shares her top tips for finding the right agent.
1 – FIND AN AGENT WHO IS BILINGUAL
You may already be fluent in the language of the country in which you are buying property – a considerable advantage as an overseas buyer. Being able to communicate properly with your agent is absolutely essential, so if you are not au fait with the local lingo, we strongly recommend that you find a bilingual agent. You need a professional agent who will be able to listen to and understand your needs and who will also be able to speak the native language in order to fully understand all of the stages involved in the buying process. The last thing that you want is a breakdown in communication at this vital time – buying a property can be a stressful process, so the last thing that you need is a language barrier to complicate things further.
Buying a property involves more than just being shown around a few properties – you need to have an agent that speaks the language, because when the time comes for the all important legal process, the often tricky small print and everything else in between, the agent will be able to make sure that you are not left in the dark.
2 – ENSURE THEY OFFER A TIMELY AND EFFICIENT SERVICE
A good agent should offer an unrivalled level of customer service, which includes responding to emails and all other correspondence in a timely fashion. Timing can be key to securing that dream property in a competitive marketplace and this means that you need an agent who is on the ball and looking out for your best interests. This is a relatively easy part of the service to test. When researching your agent – send them an email or leave them a voicemail message and gauge how quickly they respond to your request – and with what level of detail. There is a lot of competition when it comes to property agents – this means that they should only offer you the very best service and you should not have to settle for anything less. Don’t be afraid to judge each agent against their competition and even test a couple out to see which company offers the service that appeals to you the most.
3 – CHECK THEIR PROFESSIONAL ACCREDITATIONS
Your agent should always be registered with the correct governing bodies and they should be able to prove this to you upon request. Make sure you read up on which professional accreditations and memberships are required for your country of choice and then check that they are registered. This information should be easy to find on their websites and certificates on display in their offices, and should be presented upon request if not.
4 – FIND OUT IF THEY ARE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE COUNTRY AND LOCAL AREA
A knowledgeable agent is worth their weight in gold. They should know all there is to know about every single one of the areas that they cover – its amenities, highlights, weather, where to get best value for money, and everything else that you need to know. This will include smaller matters such as getting an internet connection; to gas and electricity connection; where the nearest petrol station is; to what the best schools are, who are the best doctors in the area; and even places that they would recommend for you to begin your job search, if needed.
5 – MAKE SURE THEY OFFER THE RIGHT KIND OF PROPERTIES
It may seem obvious, but before you choose an agent you should always investigate whether or not they have the right kind of properties on their books. For example, there is no point choosing an agent that only offers luxury properties over a million pounds when you are in the market for a resale property.
Make sure that you are clear about your budget and your requirements from the get-go, so you won’t waste time viewing properties that are above or below your price range. Property viewing trips are an expensive business, so you want to make sure that when the time comes to go and see potential properties that you are only viewing those that meet your criteria.
6 – GET TESTIMONIALS AND REFERENCES
Never underestimate the power of choosing an agent who comes highly recommended. Ask for testimonials from previous buyers and recommendations from anyone you know who may have used their services before, or other professionals that you trust. In some cases, the agent may even let you speak to the referees about their experiences with the agents. If the agent offers a good service, they should be happy to provide you with this kind of information, as they will be proud of their past successes. The same goes for ready recommendations from friends, contacts and other professionals. If they are not forthcoming, it may be a warning sign.