Did you know that there are around 30,000 registered property agents in Singapore? With so many to choose from, it’s hard to find an agent who will best meet your needs. Most of us will likely ask our friends and family if they have one to recommend. But just because that property agent had helped someone you know, it doesn’t mean he’s the best property agent for you.
Here are 5 ways to find out how good your property agent is for you:
But first, check if the property agent is registered with CEA
No matter how good someone claims to be in closing property deals, it won’t matter if they are not registered with CEA as a property agent.
Yes, there are thousands of property agents in Singapore, but don’t just assume that your property agent is registered. Give yourself a peace of mind by taking a few seconds to check CEA’s Public Register online and confirm that they’re not working illegally or have been suspended for disciplinary issues. And starting from 4 January 2019, you can also get information on their completed resale transactions for HDB flats for the last two years from that same Public Register.
This is the latest initiative by CEA to help consumers make a more informed decision by providing verified records of each agent and their experience in closing residential transactions. Information on private residential transactions completed by property agents will be available later this year.
Once you’ve done your due diligence, it’s time to meet with the agents and ask yourself the following important questions. Not only will the answers to these questions give you a better understanding of what they can help you with, but they can also help you decide on an appropriate commission rate.
1. For buyers and renters: Is your property agent prioritising your needs?
When a property agent is looking for a suitable property for you, does he know what matters to you most? For example, is proximity to your work place more important than convenience of local amenities? If so, then it’s okay that there isn’t a 24-hour supermarket within walking distance if your morning commute takes no more than 25 minutes.
A property agent must work with your budget, but a good property agent should be able to advise you when the other factors outweigh this. For example, if a location is slightly beyond your budget, but meets all your other needs, a good property agent should be able to advise you if you should consider buying or renting a HDB flat instead of the private condo that you are eyeing.
2. For buyers and renters: What is the property agent’s process of finding suitable options for you, and are his recommendations good?
Property agents can represent many clients at any one point in time. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it may result in the property agent just showing you available properties that his other clients are not interested in. In other words, the property agent is putting his own convenience above yours.
Find out if your property agent is dedicated to helping you find your ideal home by learning more about his process of finding properties for sale or rent. Is he just looking through the classified ads or does he have contacts he’s regularly in touch with who are looking to sell or rent out their place?
And what about his recommendations? Are they popular choices or non-starters? A good property agent doesn’t tell you that there are no suitable properties but will think out of the box to meet your needs and wants as best as he can. Don’t settle for a property agent that is trying to force you to take up a less-than-ideal property.
At the end of the day, you are paying your property agent a commission to help in your property hunt, so he should be doing his best for you.
That said, of course, you’ll need to be realistic about your demands as well – if your budget can’t afford condo living near an MRT station, don’t request for such options from your property agent.
It’s also important to make sure that your property agent is not also representing the other party (i.e. the seller or landlord) in the same transaction. Such dual representation is not only a conflict of interest but also illegal.
3. For buyers and sellers: Is your property agent knowledgeable about property financing and the property market?
In Singapore, you technically don’t need to engage a property agent for your property transaction. Engaging a good property agent, however, could help make your property transaction process a hassle-free one because the agent would have the necessary knowledge and experience that you probably don’t have. That’s why you’re engaging him after all.
If you’re a buyer, your property agent should have some knowledge of property financing to advise against an impulse property buy if, say, current home loan rates are likely to rise and may advise that you consider your financial commitments carefully.
If you’re a seller, a competent property agent should be able to advise you on the market potential of your property, and whether this is the right time for you to be selling your property based on market sentiments.
Basically, a good property agent being an expert in property transactions should be able to provide deep insights and comprehensive information when it comes to the property market. If you assess that he isn’t quite able to do so, you might want consider discussing a lower commission with him, which, if you didn’t know, is negotiable and should be based on the service he is providing you.
4. For sellers and landlords: What is the property agent’s process of finding suitable buyers or tenants?
Selling and renting out a house is very different from finding a house, and the property agent’s process of finding suitable buyers or tenants should reflect that. Find out how your property agent plans to attract suitable buyers or tenants, and if he is doing so in an effective and efficient manner.
These days, with several digital platforms available to advertise a property for sale or rent, it is easy to just post the information online. A good property agent makes the effort to curate potential buyers or tenants for his clients. Experienced property agents may even have their own pool of contacts to promote your property to, and this can cut short your search time and offer you more potential buyers or tenants to choose from.
Ultimately, you want to be able to have a good understanding of your property agent’s process and progress, so that he doesn’t leave you hanging for weeks at a time with no news or updates.
5. For sellers and landlords: Is your property agent willing to give you regular updates on their progress?
Getting your property agent to give you regular updates on the progress of selling or renting out your house might give you insights as to whether he’s marketing and pricing your property correctly. Since property agent commissions are usually a percentage of the sale or rental price, they are incentivised to give your property a high value. But too high a valuation means no takers.
On the other extreme, they may be tempted to price your property below valuation so that they can make a quick buck. If you notice a lot of interested parties in a short span of time, you may want to check if your property agent is intentionally undervaluing your property.
A good property agent will be able to find data for property transactions in the area or for similar property types and justify his valuations to you. You want to find a property agent that negotiates with your interests in mind, not just his.
Speaking of trusting your property agent…
Say you ask these 5 questions and you’re convinced that your property agent is competent. It can be tempting to put your trust in the property agent and just say, “Do what you think is best.” But when it comes to buying and selling your property, it’s probably one of the biggest transactions you’ll ever make, so you simply can’t wash your hands entirely from the process.
This is especially true when it comes to money. It is always best for you to handle the money related to your property transaction on your own. When buying and selling all properties in Singapore, property agents are only allowed to handle the valuation fees and their own commission. Everything else should be handled on your own. And for rental transactions, always pay the landlord directly.
In general, you should always strive to be present whenever possible in discussions about a property that you plan to buy, sell, or rent. This will also give you the opportunity to ensure your property agent does what he has committed to do, which is what you’re paying him for.
At the end of the day, choosing a good property agent, having a clear understanding of what your agent’s responsibilities are, and being involved will go a long way in making the whole property transaction process a smooth one.
What are some good experiences you’ve had with property agents? Share them with us here!