IN TODAY’S real estate market, when homebuyers have access to such an abundance of advice and information online, it is easy to see how they might believe that they don’t really need much help from estate agents any more.
However, says Richard Gray, chief executive of Harcourts Real Estate, nothing could be further from the truth. “Actually, estate agents now have an even greater role to play in property transactions than they did previously, especially where homebuyers are concerned.”
For a start, he says, prospective buyers can save themselves an enormous amount of valuable time by enlisting the help of an agent to match suitable properties to their exact requirements. “Precisely because there are so many listings and such a welter of information on the internet, prospective buyers can waste a lot of time trying to sift through everything.”
In addition, he says, agents can be of great help to buyers when it comes to the financial aspects of a property purchase. “Affordability is the key consideration in today’s market, and buyers looking for homes online often forget about transaction costs such as transfer duty, bond registration charges and legal fees .
“A qualified agent can help you work out what you can comfortably afford and even better, should be able to refer you to a mortgage originator so that you can obtain proper pre-approval for a home loan.”
Thirdly, Gray says, agents are still the best source of local market information, not only about schools, shops, services and proposed developments, but about real selling prices as well as market trends in a particular area. “They can provide real-time details of recent sales and selling prices that are often not publicly available until many months after the transactions take place, as well as current information about buying activity in the area. This undoubtedly helps buyers make more informed purchasing decisions.”
Then there is the matter of property condition, he says. “Agents are a lot more likely than buyers to spot any defects and potential problems that could require expensive repairs in future. And although they usually act on behalf of sellers in SA, they are strictly bound by legislation to disclose any defects known to them, and also to protect the interests of the buyer as well as the seller in any transaction.”
And finally, says Gray, the sale that has been concluded through an experienced, qualified agent from a large real estate group with good administrative resources is likely to have a quick, trouble-free passage through all the legal processes leading up to transfer.