It’s unlikely to the point of impossibility that you’ll be able to grow your portfolio without dealing with estate agents on a regular basis.
Everyone has their own opinion about them but, in common with every other business, they range in quality from gold-star excellence to semi-legal cowboys.
So, you have to make sure you do your due diligence on the ones you want to deal with before you even pick up the phone.
You can do this by checking out the various websites and apps that rate local businesses. Facebook can be good for this too as every town in the UK has at least one Facebook page devoted to it, and the people who administrate these sites or post on them tend to be friendly and fiercely proud of their own patches.
Just a simple. “Hi. I’m looking to buy a property in Xxxxx and I wondered if Xxxxx Xxxxx estate agents are a reputable company who are worth dealing with?” should elicit plenty of good-quality responses, and you’re on your way.”
Estate agents vary in range from small, localised operations to national and even multi-national chains.
Again, do your own due diligence but in most cases if you are a beginner it would be advantageous to get to know the people working in the local private firms, who might only have one or two branches.
The reason is that, almost without exception, they are owned, managed and staffed by people from the area, who are virtually guaranteed to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the area they are based in.
They tend to be more open to discussions with investors, assuming it will be of benefit to both parties in the arrangement.
Befriend these people, chat with them, bring them the odd box of doughnuts and they will become very kindly disposed towards you. Just be nice It’s not that difficult. Even in these hyper-cynical times, human beings are still hard-wired by thousands of years of evolution to do good by people who are good to them.
Whatever your deeply-held opinion about estate agents (if you even have an opinion), you will be unable to avoid working closely with them if you want to generate a stream of future leads, so it makes perfect sense to make them your friends. Right?
Even if you have to deal with the big chains, where they have to send a memo to corporate for approval if the window cleaner raises his prices by 50p a week, get to know somebody in there.
You want to nurture the kind of contact who can be your ‘eyes and ears’ in your local patch. They speak to property people all day long, so if you’re on good terms with them, you can be sure they’ll eventually be sharing some of that knowledge with you.
It would be good to have two or three agents on your ‘team’. They’re looking for reliable partners just as much as you are, so meet them halfway at the very least.
The job of an estate agent, from a property investor’s point of view, is to give you leverage when it comes to purchasing your apartments and houses in terms of saving you time and money.
Once you have established a relationship, you can let the agent know exactly what you are looking for and when something suitable comes up, you’ll be one of the first names on their list and, therefore, one of the first people to get a viewing.
This gives you a significant advantage – you’ll definitely be aware of the cliché: ‘If you’re not fast, you’re last!’ It’s a cliché because it’s true.
But always make sure you get to know your estate agent contacts on a ‘human’ level first. Don’t just barge in there gung-ho and tell them you’re an investor new to the area looking for some tasty property deals.
You’ll get laughed out of the place (believe me, I’ve literally seen this happen) and you’ll not only be a persona non grata in that office, but in every other estate agency in the district.
People talk, people socialise with those who are in the same line of work as them, in coffee shops daily and in the local pubs of a Friday evening.
If you’ve just given them a clown show, you’ll be a source of amusement on that patch for a long time. Tread carefully. You know it makes sense.