Working with an estate agent to rent or buy a property can be a double-edged sword. On the one side you have someone working on your behalf to find a great accommodation that will suit your needs but on the other side, the estate agent is simultaneously working for the landlord or property owner to get their properties rented and sold as quickly as possible for the highest prices possible. Don’t let this conundrum put you off of working with estate agents though. If there is an estate agent in the area in which you are hoping to live, or an agency that your university recommends, give them a try before you decide to go it alone. You just might save yourself a load of trouble!
What Do Estates Agents Do?Estate agents are employed by property owners to rent or sell their properties. These may be their personal homes or investment properties, but either way this means that estate agents are first and foremost concerned with their actual clients – the property owners. In the course of attempting to sell or lease a property, estate agents may also:
- Take pictures of the property, create literature to advertise the property and use these pictures in local papers or on websites.
- Arrange for “viewings” of the property by prospective renters or buyers.
- Assess properties for rental potential.
- Advise landlords on bringing rental properties up to code.
- Value properties for fair market price.
- Draw up leases for rental properties.
- Arrange conveyancing for sale properties.
- Negotiate sale prices and rents between buyers and sellers and renters and landlords.
Why Should Students Consider Estate Agents?Students should look at estate agents as extra protection in their accommodation search. By dealing with a professional, students can expect professional service and knowledge as well as expect the protection of regulatory boards if something goes wrong. Students considering estate agents should:
- Enquire around the area to determine which agencies are recommended (and which they may be warned away from).
- Check in with the university housing office to find out if there are any pre-approved agencies in the area.
- Check if the agent that you are thinking of working with belongs to the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA) scheme which will give you a legal framework for complaints or appeals.
- Enquire if anyone in the agency belongs to the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors or the National Association of Estate Agents for added protection and professionalism.
- Check a variety of properties in a variety of agencies to get a general feel for appropriate rent prices in the area.
- Understand if there will be an added fee charged for using an estate agent or having him/her draw up or amend a lease.
- Never feel bullied into making an agreement. You are always entitled to leave at any time if you feel uncomfortable.