"Your best investment opportunity won't fit into a safety deposit box, but you can live in it!”
We all need a roof over our heads as we sleep at night. That’s the least anyone could hope for - a house to go back to after a long day at work. But how do we find the perfect house? Picking your agent becomes an important task for potential home owners, especially with horror stories about unscrupulous realtors floating around.
With ERA winning the #1 Property Agency in Singapore in the 2014 Influential Brands study, we spoke to a few of their SAEA award-winning agents to learn how to determine that you're dealing with a trustworthy real estate agent.
Here are the 11 nuggets of wisdom they shared.
1. Check CEA portal to see if the agent is registered
Ensuring that the agent who wants to represent you actually has the credentials he says he does will save you a world of pain. The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) is a statutory board that is empowered to regulate the real estate industry, and all real estate agents are required to be registered with it.
Pro Tip: A quick search on the portal can show if an agent is registered. As a bonus, it will also show if the agent has had any complaints against him. You can access the CEA portal here.
2. Web Reviews
Most realtors today realize the importance of having an online presence, with many of them actively using it as a branding opportunity. Check out their webpages, where you can read their past clients' testimonials. Many realtors consider testimonials to be the backbone of a career, and their importance cannot be overstated.
You can also check forums to see if the agent in question has a positive or negative reputation.
Pro Tip: For the best results, Google *agent name* and *agency name*. For example, "Alex Tan ERA".
3. Openness to interviews
The best agents understand that houses aren't simple commodities that can be bought or sold on a whim. The investments made when looking for a new house are personal as well as financial, and the relationship between client and realtor has to be deeper than the one between a customer and the cashier at the neighbourhood NTUC.
Pro Tip: A good agent is willing to make time for prospective clients who want to get to know her better.
Related to the previous point, you would be wrong to scoff at this entry to the list. The chemistry between client and agent is an underrated aspect of the home buying/selling process that can make or break an engagement.
Pro Tip: A good agent recognizes this and will not rush you to make a decision, understanding that trust takes time to be built.
Clients know what they want, not what they need. A client might want a house in a bustling town area, but neglect the fact that his wife is pregnant and their child would be kept awake by the constant noise. Or perhaps even that a kindergarten in close proximity would be ideal.
The agent knows what the client needs, but not necessarily what he wants. With the appropriate discussions taking place, her knowledge of families' different needs and years of experience influences the advice she gives, adding a different dimension to the considerations the client has.
Pro Tip: A good agent draws on their experiences to offer you the best advice possible, especially in areas you accidentally overlook.
6. Interest shown in you
If you were to request a property in Redhill and your agent recommends one in Changi without good reason, it's a red flag. A good agent listens to you and pays attention to what you say, understanding that the client's interests are at the forefront of the agenda.
You won't need to repeat yourself often because he pays attention to your requirements.
Pro Tip: His questions are focused on you, making you feel valued as a client.
The agent has to understand the relationship with you is about the process and not the closing of the deal. This means that rejections are to be expected and handled well. Professionalism encompasses a great variety of actions, including minute details like punctuality and being prepared for meetings.
Pro Tip: Minor details such as dressing or being comfortable with real estate jargon can be indicative of an agent's professionalism.
The agent's background is important as it grants the agent advantages his colleagues might not have. For example, an agent with a banking background is more likely to have a better understanding of banking and mortgage rates, and will be more likely to assist the client more in this area.
There tends to be some hesitance when dealing with fresh agents, but clients should realize that nobody is truly fresh - working in other industries could have yielded experiences that gives an agent unexpected advantages - he just needs to find a way to utilise it. A lack of experience doesn't necessarily translate to a bad agent.
Pro Tip: A good agent draws on his experiences to find niche areas that can value-add his services to you.
A good agent will also not be averse to keeping you updated on his progress on your case, agreeing to give daily or weekly reports depending on the urgency of the matter. If the client is a landlord, the agent will also be willing to provide periodical updates on the condition of the house.
Pro Tip: A good agent feels responsible for the daily unspectacular work involved, often doing beyond what is necessary.
10. Have solid agency backing
Any agent is only as solid as the agency structure behind him, as the agency's ethics and culture guides the agent through his career as a real estate agent. Many reputable agencies have their own niche areas. For example, ERA has innovative IT tools such as the i-ERA app (available on the App Store and Google Play), allowing you to find listings from the comfort of your home.A good agency also ensures that their new agents have proper mentors that are ready to share their wealth of experience and networks of contacts.
Pro Tip: Check that the agent's agency is an established one, as established agencies have significant advantages honed by years of experience.
Established in 1982, ERA has been involved with over 30 years of putting roofs over the heads of everyday Singaporeans. ERA holds weekly training sessions for its agents to ensure that you receive only the most relevant and updated information.
Influential Brands awarded ERA the Top 1 Award in the Property Agency category, affirming its place in the consumers' hearts as the brand to trust.
About Influential Brands
Influential Brands is a consumer insight driven awards programme which provides a platform for brands to celebrate their achievement; for consumers, businesses and stakeholders to recognise the brands’ efforts in arriving where they are today. The study conducted by Influential Brands is purely consumer driven and the Top Brands are selected by consumers through their perception and preference, demonstrating the level of impact and influence of the brands in each consumer’s life.
Influential Brands seeks to identify consumer preferences, their behaviours, values and to understand how the ever-changing environment affects consumer experience in the purchase journey. The programme is tailored to enrich the brands’ relationship with their consumers through ongoing meaningful conversations and engagement.
For more information, like and follow Influential Brands on Facebook for more updates!
With Special Thanks to...
This article is made possible by the input of the following award-winning agents from ERA Realty Network.
Read More Influential Brand Stories by TSL
This post is part of Influential Brands 2014, where we highlight the most influential brands in Singapore.