Overseas Property Agent-which is right for me? How can I tell? 5 Top Tips

June 6, 2011

Some people are not sure what an agent does, or is, let alone which type is best for them. So let us establish this first.

A property agent brings together someone interested in buying property, with a potential seller of property. Now the agent may act on behalf of the buyer, so be paid and retained by them to find a specific property. These are called a “Buyer’s Agent” and they will usually charge the buyer a fee, perhaps up to 3% of the value of the property.

Then there are “Sales Agents”, who might get a commission, or an introducer’s fee from the Seller. In some overseas property markets, the buyer and seller may each be charged. This can happen in Bulgaria and Poland for example, particularly on the resale market, where smaller commissions are available and it is normal practice to charge the buyer and seller.

Buying through an Agent should not affect the price a buyer pays for their property, whether they go through an agent, or directly to the seller. Evidently some agents might be better than others at helping negotiate discounts from sellers, or brokering deals. But agents are another distribution channel for developers, the cost of which they build into their pricing structure. Agents should add value to the buyer by sourcing what is right for the buyer and guiding through the property buying process, which is really important in overseas property markets.

So which type of agent is best for me?

Well a lot depends on what you are after and your needs. But to start with let’s consider the range for agents.

Imagine an Agent “Independence” spectrum, where independence means ability to select suppliers’ or developers’ product to offer to clients. The nature of the Agent, can be partially explained by where they sit on this “Independence” Spectrum. See the illustration below.

At one end of the spectrum an agent might work solely for the seller and be “tied” to offering property from that one developer or seller. At the other end of the spectrum, an agent might represent the buyer, that is work for and be retained by them and potentially have the freedom to choose from all properties on the market.

In between there are independent agents who can introduce buyers to a number of different foreign property sellers, or potentially multi-tied agents, who offer only properties from a few suppliers or developers. Choosing the one that is right for you depends on how much choice you want. Property Venture® is an independent agent and offers pragmatic advice from across the market.

5 Top Tips

Be clear on what an agent is going to do for you:

  • Are they free to offer you a range of properties and suppliers, or do they have properties they promote from one developer or builder and are “tied” only to that developer, so cannot offer a better property, even if one is available?
  • How long have they been an agent? Some enter the market when it is on the up and so may not have as much experience or knowledge as a more established agent.
  • Have they got any professional qualifications or are they a member of a professional body? Whilst this is not the “be-all-and-end-all”, it indicates if a company is open to continual learning and improvement and seeks to have a degree of knowledge in their market. In many markets the sale of property is not regulated, so it is helpful to find an agent that is prepared to submit themselves to an independent appeals process, through an independent or professional body such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
  • Don’t assume buying property abroad is the same as buying in the UK, unless you are familiar with the process, you are likely to need some help or guidance.
  • Check what the agent is and is not going to do for you, to avoid misunderstandings

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Property Venture® is an award-winning, UK-based agency for overseas property who helps people buy investment property and holiday homes in Europe, more easily and safely than they can on their own, because we offer grounded common-sense advice.

The focus is mainly greater Europe: Poland property, UK investments, Spain property, Turkey property, Cyprus property

On the Advisory Board and a Member of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP) the business has been vetted, approved and voluntarily commits to Industry Regulation and the Professional Code of Conduct. We are known for our quality customer service and non-pressurised approach to sales. Take a look at what our clients say

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