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In a property market as uniquely robust as Singapore’s, when the time calls for you to buy or sell your home, you can only hope to have a rock-steady, trustworthy realtor to take you through the tides of cooling measures and price hikes as they come and go.
However, as far as real estate goes, real estate agents have long been negatively stigmatized. Despite their impeccable dressing, mint business cards (undoubtedly listed with accreditations) and warm smiles, the process of engaging realtors is usually pegged with apprehension or fear.
Amidst the newest changes happening in the local property market, the industry has appropriately called for change—just recently, a new set of tougher training guidelines have been implemented for local agents that will, perhaps, start them off on a newer, cleaner slate with the population. Read more about the announcement from the Counsel for Estate Agencies here: http://business.asiaone.com/news/news/tougher-training-guidelines-property-agents . But while our agents brush up on their skills and knowledge, it is important that the customers themselves take on a different perspective when hiring for the sale or purchase of those coveted pieces of land.
Here are 5 steps you can take to get off on the right start with your property agent:
1. Check if he/she is the right person for the job
It is important to have the confidence that your agent can understand your needs and find what you’re looking for. Certifications, credentials, or recommendations from friends of friends might tell you that a realtor is experienced and good at his/her job, but they don’t tell you where their area of expertise lies, and whether their style of communication works for you. So before you start discussing details of the possible transaction, get to know your realtor:
2. Acknowledge the fact that they are there to help
While it is important to safeguard your personal interests when it comes to making as big a decision as buying or selling property, it is essential to acknowledge that the property agent you’re hiring is there to assist you in the process. They are not meant to baffle, complicate, or worse, cheat you for a quick buck, so trusting them with information and respecting their opinion will go a long way in helping you make intelligent decisions on your purchase or sale. Mutual respect should be maintained during this time, so grilling them about their personal background, trying to find fault with the statements they make, or delving too much into their work processes will hamper the relationship. As much as the realtor wants to earn his/her living and get his commission from a successful transaction, he/she will not try to put his/her reputation at stake either, for a lot of their business does come from customer references and recommendations.
Think that maybe you could save yourself the trouble avoid risks by handling this on your own? Perhaps you should consider the following reasons why a property agent can help: http://www.stroff.com/singapore-property-blog/item/5-top-10-reasons-to-hire-a-real-estate-agent-in-singapore.html
3. Set expectations straight, and keep them
During the initial meetings, it is important to give your realtor a good picture of what you’d like to achieve, and how you want to achieve that goal. Your agent can then make suggestions on how to improve on the how’s and what’s in order to reach your goals more efficiently, and both parties should agree to these expectations before moving on.
Without a clearly set goal, customers can be easily swayed by different recommendations made by their agent, and can become frustrated when they think they are not selling/buying their property for the right price, place or time. A lot of time can also be wasted on needless negotiations and too many choices/alternatives can muddle your thoughts, which can result in additional costs. These are some expectations that should be set and maintained until the deal is sealed:
4. Do some of your own research
As with all major life decisions, never go blind into a deal. Your agent will help you to understand complicated housing policies and give recommendations on what to look out for when buying/selling your house, but you should also invest some time in understanding how negotiations work, and learning more about the property you’re buying/selling. Don’t leave it all to the agent, be constantly involved and ask your realtor questions to develop your understanding of the market.
5. Some common mistakes made—don’t fall for them
Always have an out clause in your contract with the real estate agent, just in case. You never know when you need to pull out of the deal, and sometimes relationships can turn sour due to the loss of trust and understanding, misplaced or otherwise.
Don’t be swayed by glib tongues, or tactics to rush you into/ prevent you from making a purchase or sale. You are the hirer and so you make the final say, even though your agent is there to give recommendations. But never blame them for the decisions you make.
It is always okay to seek a second opinion if you are unsure of something. Just because you trust your agent, does not mean you cannot do a double-take on the information provided and ask more questions to help you understand issues, policies, and suggestions.
Lastly, keep the relationship professional. Often when agents become close friends, their influence on your decisions become greater, and you might be compelled to return favours, or overlook details in the negotiation process, which may result in bad decisions and harm the relationship.
Last updated by Geoffery Ho Nov 11, 2013.