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Can You Trust an Estate Agent?

By: Christine Whitfield BA (hons) - Updated: 24 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Estate Agents Property Buying Selling

We’ve all heard the horror stories when it comes to estate agents. Everyone you know seems to know someone who has had a bad experience with an estate agent. Various studies have placed estate agents near the bottom of the list when it comes to professions the public most trust. But do they deserve all this? Should we be wary of all estate agents or are we tarring them all with the same brush?

What Do Estate Agents Do?

Estate agents are effectively the middle man when it comes to buying a property. The buyer approaches the estate agent as opposed to approaching the seller straight out. The seller pays the estate agent a commission fee to handle all the business when it comes to selling the house. But what is it that has given estate agents such a bad reputation?

Bad Publicity

There has been a lot of negative press about estate agents over the years and it seems the most damaging stories come from those who are, or were, in the profession. In 2007 one former estate agent caused uproar when he revealed all to a personal finance website.

The agent told of the alleged underhand tricks that were being employed at the office he worked at. These included undervaluing properties in order to sell them to each other or to friends at a discount price. Another commonly used tactic, according to the agent, involved organising two bookings of the same property at the same time.

When the first possible buyer had left the property the estate agent would have his or her office call to say the first possible buyer had put in a claim. This would put pressure on the second possible buyer to make an offer also – even though the first ‘offer’ was completely made up.

These sort of horror stories have undoubtedly affected the way the estate agent profession is viewed in the eyes of the public but that should not always be the case. Many people have had good experiences with estate agents and have found they make the buying and selling process much smoother. But there are some things to consider when choosing an estate agent in order to make sure you are dealing with a decent professional

The best way to ensure your agent is reliable is to go by word of mouth. If an estate agent treats a client badly you can bet they will tell their friends about it. When you are looking to find an estate agent ask your friends, family and colleagues about their experiences. Who did they use? Were they good? Any hiccups? You’ll know you can rely on their opinions more so than any sales or advertising literature you may read.

Look online. With blogs and forums on the Internet now it is easy for frustrated clients to vent their anger. Type in the name of the estate agent on a search engine and check if any complaints or queries come up. If so steer clear of that agent.

Finally trust your instincts. If the house is not right for you do not let an agent persuade you otherwise by telling you how many more people are interested. Make your decision based on your gut instinct, not what you are being told.

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