Time and time again buyers complain about estate agents wasting their time by showing them around unsuitable properties. It can be frustrating, but it is avoidable. Shortlisting properties sent through by estate agents before you attend viewings can mitigate against this. Here’s a little advice to help you build an effective property shortlist to help your house hunt.
1. Have a clear search brief
Step one when preparing to buy a house should be ensuring you have a clearly defined search brief yourself. It sounds obvious, but sometimes, if the buyer is too vague, this means the estate agent doesn’t have much to work with. Ensure you know your must-have’s, dealbreakers and what you could live without.
- Budget – be realistic about what you can afford
- Property size
- How many bedrooms/bathrooms?
- Consider how future-proof a property is
- Try not to get caught up with aesthetics – these can be changed
- Are good transport connections a must?
- Do you want plenty of green spaces?
- Are you looking for good nightlife?
It’s also important to be thoroughly organised through the search process and know all the local agents in your desired location. They’re the ones with their ear to the ground, and have local insider knowledge you can tap into. You should also get a good feel for what you want by looking at property portals.
2. Keep in regular contact with estate agents
You should call agents weekly, more often if at all possible. You should also follow up your calls with emails. This reminds agents you’re still looking and helps you precisely define the type of property you’re looking for.
Don’t fear you’re being a nuisance, this is their job and they will earn money from your purchase.
This is one of the biggest investments you’re going to make, it needs to be worthwhile. You also want to avoid being ‘fobbed off’ with just any property which crosses the agent’s books.
Every time an agent sends you a property, evaluating and ultimately adding it to your shortlist (if relevant) will avoid you being shown anything unsuitable.
3. Be smart before your viewing
There are some vital actions to take before attending a viewing:
- When an agent sends you a sales brochure, read it thoroughly
- Pay close attention to the house floor plan, is it what you’re after?
- Phone the estate agent and ask any preliminary questions you have
4. Understand how estate agents work
Like anyone in a sales team, estate agents have targets to meet so will likely show you everything they can if it means you might make a purchase. Get the most out of estate agents by doing your research into them e.g. their reviews, and trying to build as good a relationship as possible.
Most buyers don’t end up buying what they actually set out to find. It’s also common for home buyers to spend more than they initially say they’re prepared to.
When shortlisting properties, you have to be firm with agents about your requirements. Despite this, try to keep an open mind – some properties might not be on your dream wish list though they could still turn your head.
5. The devil is in the detail
Don’t shortlist a property if it doesn’t seem right. If something doesn’t quite add up on the brochure, query it. It won’t be an oversight, estate agents are too savvy for that. Some details may be deliberately omitted in the hope it won’t be noticed. If you’re seeing red flags at this stage, pose the question to your agent before shortlisting the property.
6. Ask the right questions
If your agent hasn’t seen the property themselves, speak to someone who has. You want first-hand experience – not second hand gossip. Before the property makes your shortlist, ask the right things. Some questions to ask when buying a house include:
- What are the property’s strengths?
- What are its weaknesses?
- Which direction does it face?
- What period is it?
- What state are the neighbouring properties in?
- What floor is it on?
- What’s the view like?
- Has there been any offers yet?
- Is the seller flexible in the asking price?
If you get suitable answers to all your questions, shortlist the property and arrange a time to attend a property viewing. If it looks good on paper and sounds good to you, it’ll probably get snapped up fairly quickly – so don’t delay. It’ll also show the estate agent you’re serious about buying.
As a side note, this approach to shortlisting property is a great way to get on the ‘hot buyers’ list. This means you’ll be given priority for property viewings.
7. What’s the area like?
The importance of finding a property in an area which you love can’t be overlooked. This is the place you’re going to spend a significant amount of your life – is it good enough? Ensure you know the answer before making an offer on a house.
Here are some vital considerations:
- Area price comparisons
- Crime rates
- Number of schools nearby
- Quality of schools nearby
- Local residents – who lives there
- Planning applications – the nearest 15 to the property
All this information (and more) can be pulled together for you in Phil Spencer’s Property Report. It’s a fountain of knowledge that can help you in your search!
Knowing the facts about a property as you make your property shortlist can save you valuable time. After all, you can change many things about a property, but not its location. Get your full report below.