Even though buying through an estate agent is the standard way to purchase a house, many people don’t realise how the process works.
1. The estate agent works for the seller, not the buyer
It’s easy to think the estate agent is working for you. After all, they’re helping you find your ideal home. Except, the estate agent will get a commission when they sell that dream property they want you to buy. Which means it’s in their interest for you to pay a higher price.
You’re not the customer, the seller is, so don’t start giving away information about your income or what you’re willing to pay. It could come back to bite you later on.
2. Estate agents get referral fees for recommending conveyancers and mortgage advisors
You’re likely to be told that it is ‘easier’ to go with their recommended solicitor or mortgage team. You may even be told that it will speed up the process.
It won’t. Estate agents are paid well for these referral fees
, so make sure you ask how much they receive for making this recommendation.
Similarly, whilst it would be bad form for your estate agent to find out anything that would benefit them from your conveyancer or mortgage lender, if they’re inhouse, it’s not as separate as you would like.
3. Estate agents are legally required to pass on your offer to the seller
There may be situations where they don’t pass on the offer, if the seller has said they won’t accept offers under a certain number, and you’ve offered too little, for example.
However, if you’ve made a legitimate offer, it has to be passed on so that the seller is completely aware of their options.
4. Estate agents can give you some good information on the seller
Has the property been on the market before? Have any sales fallen through? Are they eager to move quickly? Is there a chain? How long has it been on the market? How many viewings have there been? Estate agents are likely to know a lot about the property if it’s been on their books for a while.
Also bear in mind that if they withheld information that could affect your choice to purchase, they could be in legal trouble.
So be sure to ask: is there anything that would put me off buying this property?
Whether it’s angry neighbours, a spate of burglaries in the area, or the dodgy re-wiring - they are obligated to be honest. But they aren't likely to tell you if you don't ask.
5. Don’t rely on them for the full picture
There’s a lot of information you can find out about the property without the estate agent. The property portals will often tell you what it was bought and sold for, and when that was. They often usually host the floor plans too.
You can also check the EPC register
to assess how much your bills might be and whether the property is energy efficient.
Add any more tips you think we might have missed in the comments!