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.
Keep in regular contact with estate agents
We’ve previously discussed the importance of having specific property requirements, thorough organisation through the search process and knowing all the local agents in your desired location. It’s also important to remain 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.
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 floor plan, is it what you’re after?
- Phone the estate agent and ask any preliminary questions you have
Understand how estate agents work
Don’t get cross with them. 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.
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.
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. If it's a new build, it's worth putting together a snagging list beforehand.
Questions to ask the estate agent
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 questions. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- What are the property’s strengths?
- What are its weaknesses? Everywhere has them!
- 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 view it. 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.
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 all of which are available in Phil Spencer's Property Report
- 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
Knowing the facts about a property as you make your property shortlist can save you valuable time. Get your full report below.