Estate Agents have received a bad rap over the last couple of years, often deservingly so. But with recent legislative changes within the real estate industry – namely the introduction of compulsory qualifications for all estate agents by the Estate Agency Affairs Board – the majority of agents are now better qualified, more competent and more committed to assisting the property owner in renting or selling their property.
These educational advances within the industry have, in recent years, managed to greatly reduce the amount of unscrupulous individuals acting as estate agents. This is mostly because of the large amount of work and hours required to qualify.
Reputable Estate Agencies focused on service are far more thorough when hiring agents and many have a set list of requirements that further refine the quality of agent in order to better protect their client and company. Providing comprehensive in-house and field training has become the norm for many reputable South African Estate Agencies, such as Etchells & Young.
But why should you, as the owner, utilise the services provided by an agent instead of renting or selling the property yourself?
Below is a list of reasons why using an Estate Agent to rent or sell your property may greatly benefit you.
Market Knowledge, Advice & Guidance:
One of the most valuable assets an owner can draw from is the agent’s in-depth market knowledge and experience resulting from constant exposure to the industry. Agents are comprehensively trained and experienced within their field and are able to offer accurate and up to date information on industry trends.
In the case of area specific agents, an agent would usually be able to provide information on comparative sales or rentals in the area, a price valuation of the property in relation to similar properties, the present demand in the neighbourhood, amenities in close proximity that may assist/hinder the rental or sale and dependable advice on repairs or renovations to the property that might facilitate a faster sale or rental (such as repainting, sprucing up the garden, having the carpets cleaned or repairing damp).
The CPA (Consumer Protection Act) and RHA (Rental Housing Act) have set many processes in place to protect landlords, tenants, owners and buyers. It is imperative that an agent understands these legislations, or has a supportive infrastructure in place within their Agency able to advise them so that they can correctly counsel the owner should the need arise.
Their negotiating and sales expertise are invaluable when it comes to reaching an agreement between the seller and purchaser to ensure the sale goes ahead. An agent does, for all intents and purposes, act as a middleman in advising and supporting both parties.
An agent will improve your chances of finding a tenant or buyer for your property through their extensive market knowledge, sales skills, and use of crucial advertising and marketing strategies that best promote and present the property to the target market. Their in-market knowledge is vital in screening potential tenants/buyers and being able to confidently act as the owner’s personal advisor with regards to letting or selling their property.
Marketing and Advertising:
Having maximum exposure and reaching a specific target market are top priorities for any property owner. The more visible the property is, the more potential tenants/buyers it reaches, and the more likely it is that it will be rented or sold in a timely fashion.
Agents are in the perfect position to utilise the marketing and advertising resources available to them, either in their own capacity or through their Agency, to maximise the property’s visibility and increase its online presence. Advertising on prominent SA property websites, area boards, flyers, newspapers, concrete bins, billboards, social media like Facebook and Twitter and other printed media are just some of the tools available to agents when it comes to advertising.
Many Agencies, like Etchells & Young, will send monthly emails to extensive databases, and the agents often have their own strong network of clients that have already listed their requirements with the agent - your property may be exactly what they are looking for!
The agent will take photos of the property, list it onto popular property websites, arrange the viewings/show-days, screen potential tenants/buyers and manage the rental applications/sales offers. This takes a huge amount of pressure off the owner!
Most reputable Estate Agencies have systems and procedures in place that screen and filter potential tenants/qualified buyers. In the case of rentals this takes the form of an application process where credit and FICA checks (often done through TPN, a registered credit bureau), previous landlord and employment history etc are verified to protect the landlord. A similar process takes place with buyers. The agent is able to keep the owner fully informed and provide feedback as the process progresses.
Another benefit to working with an agent is that the rental agreement and deed of sale have already been legally and scrupulously drawn up by the company and their legal advisors, and the agent is able to carefully and thoroughly explain them so that all parties are fully aware of what is expected of them on signing the lease or sales agreement.
The deposit (in the case of rentals) is paid into audited trust accounts and payment is supervised by the agent or other qualified professionals. The agent attends to entry and exit inspections, the key-handover and more. If you’re looking to reduce the stress of managing your own property even more so than this, consider using an estate agency to manage your property for you.
When Choosing an Agent:
Choose an established and recognised brand that is well-known, highly-regarded and visible within the property industry. This usually ensures that the quality of agent is high, and that they are well-trained and equipped to assist you in renting or selling your property. Select a company that values client service above all else, is trustworthy and will act in your best interests – a reputable agent is worth their weight in gold.
You should be comfortable and confident in your agent’s abilities. Trust and open communication should be the fore-runners of any working relationship.
Needless to say, reputable Agents can offer a host of benefits in renting or selling the property on behalf of the owner. Thanks to legislative changes within the industry, property owners can rest assured that the professionals that they’re entrusting their investment to are better qualified, more competent and more committed to assisting the property owner in renting/selling their property.