By Heba Eid
The real estate landscape in Egypt is continuously evolving. Development projects are constantly underway to fulfill the demands of the country’s growing population. It can thus be quite difficult to purchase or sell property, especially if one is a novice in the real estate market. Finding a capable real estate agent can be a lifesaver.
A realtor’s job is to facilitate the entire purchase or sale process, and ensure that all predetermined requirements are satisfactorily met. With increasing demand for properties, surging prices, and an increasing variety of available options, the right real estate agent can greatly aid in finding a new home.
Although a relationship with a real estate agent is a temporary one, the decision has a long lasting effect. Choosing the best real estate agent is an important process that can be divided into six steps.
Step One: Research
The world of real estate is vast. Before setting out to find available real estate agents, it is highly recommended to begin with researching available data both online, as well as offline by asking trusted contacts about their previous experience.
In case of purchasing property, begin by focusing on the particular neighborhood of interest. Visiting the area and narrowing in on specific streets of interest will help generate more precise feedback when asking for price estimates and specifics about the neighborhood.
Approaching locals to the area and asking pertinent questions regarding safety, existing problems, community, the level of noise at night, perceived real estate value, just to name a few, will help generate a more accurate picture of the real value of the properties in the area.
A trip to a real estate developer’s office, or browsing through online listings, can assist in understanding what is available in the market and help choose potential neighborhoods. Scan other available homes in the same neighborhood, and pay attention to square meters, price, and view. Porters can be of great assistance in this task, as securing a sale usually means gratuity for them.
In other words, conduct some preliminary research before talking with an agent. A well-informed client is better equipped to select the right agent and the right home. Knowing a baseline selling price will make the choice of an agent a smarter one – the choice will be based on their knowledge of the area, and their understanding of how much a property is worth.
Step Two: Narrow Down the Search
The choice of agent depends on the location of interest; hence the need to begin by narrowing down the area of interest. A broker in Nasr City may not be knowledgeable about properties in Sixth of October City; and a broker who specializes in Ain Sokhna vacation villas will not know much about Mohendessin’s market or real estate.
After choosing an ideal neighborhood, look for real estate agents located in the surrounding area or who advertise knowledge about the area. For those selling a home, look for an agent located nearby.
Step Three: Getting Referrals
Ask friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations for realtors – someone that they have personally worked with, not just an acquaintance or family friend.
Some suggestions for queries to assist in collecting strong referrals include: How do you know the realtor? How many properties has he assisted in buying/selling? What were his negatives? What could have been improved or avoided in your dealings? Why do you recommend this agent rather than others?
These questions all provide some particular insight on the agent, although a healthy dose of skepticism is required. A rainbow and roses description of an agent coming from a porter might indicate that the porter stands to benefit from your liaison with his agent.
After querying for referrals, compile a list of potential agents and Google their names. See if they have online presences, especially in social media. A lack of visibility online is not necessarily a bad sign; however, it is still an indicator of how tech savvy they are and how they use -or don’t use- digital marketing to their advantage.
It is noteworthy that one person’s experience with an agent, while informative, is not necessarily an accurate indicator of a realtor’s merit. Therefore, it is recommended to get multiple reviews of the same agent, if possible, before selecting one.
Narrow down the selection of agents to three or four before proceeding to step number four.
Step Four: Setting Up an Interview. What to Ask?
Schedule meetings with the prospects; these meetings are opportunities to assess how compatible the agent is with the job at hand. The initial conversation is crucial in deciding if this business relationship will be a successful one; therefore, the right questions are imperative.
The first questions to ask are about the process the realtor typically follows. How does he market a home? What tools are at his disposal? Does he have a database?
Other examples of pertinent questions include: What is the commission rate? How long has he been in business? How many units has he sold before in the district of your interest?
Make sure to get concrete answers to the questions put forward. An answer of, “I have sold many homes in Maadi, and have been in real estate business for a long time,” or, “Don’t worry about my fees, this will pose no problem,” are not precise and border on evasive. It is important to know how much the commission fee is before proceeding further, so insist on accurate numbers or start looking for another agent
Step Five: Key Points to Look For
Other than verbal statements, body language and personal traits are also important indicators of a realtor’s character. The first thing to look for is the level of comfort and ease with the potential realtor. If communication is trying, and chemistry is off, that is a cue to keep looking for another agent. While some might argue that chemistry is of little importance in a business partnership, it is an unconscious indicator of the trust level. The transaction will not come to fruition if there is no trust.
How professional is he? Does he promptly answer phone calls/emails/text messages? Does he take forever to respond? Is he attentive when outlining requirements for the purchase or sale of property? Or does he try to impose his views? Does he come off as an honest individual or does it seem like he has a tendency to exaggerate?
How much bandwidth can he spare? Does he have too many clients? If he does, chances are he’s spreading himself too thin, and will not be able to allocate the necessary time to efficiently conduct business.
Honesty, attentiveness, professionalism, and trustworthiness are all character traits desirable in an agent. It may seem like you are asking for the moon, but these are just the necessary attributes for a favorable property transaction to take place.
Step Six: Key Points to Avoid
A realtor’s number one priority should be fulfilling the client’s needs, which means finding or selling a home that best suits the client, not his own bank account. In addition, ensure that the realtor is not trying to impose his own interests in the transaction.
Make sure that the agent has extensive experience not only in the area of interest, but in the suggested price bracket as well. The commission from an apartment in Heliopolis is very different from that of a high-end villa in 6th of October City; a factor that will inevitably affect the motivation level of a realtor focused on the latter.
Avoid agents that are too busy or are in the realtor business part time. It is very likely that they will be too busy juggling their schedule to give the necessary time and attention to finding the perfect deal. Additionally, choose an agent who has been in the market for a number of years, unless you’re a seasoned investor, and need no hand holding.
The process of finding a good real estate agent can be daunting at times, especially for first timers; however, investing effort in this crucial initial phase will greatly facilitate the remainder of the process.