You’re looking to buy a property and the people you turn to for help are the estate agents: Property experts with superb knowledge of the houses in the area you’ve chosen, who can help you find that dream home at the best price. However, some estate agents have a few tricks up their sleeves to persuade you to buy…
In an ideal world, yes. But in the ruthlessly real world of real estate, that’s often not quite the case. Because though you may think that as a buyer they are working on your behalf, they’re also representing the sellers, and looking to make a decent profit for themselves from the sale. Business is business, after all.
Of course, most estate agents are 100% professional when you’re buying a property and have your interests as well as their seller’s at heart.
But for a small minority, being fair comes second to making money. Which means these estate agents will happily use a whole bunch of tricks and withhold information they may not want you to know about the property buying process in order to keep things moving and get properties off their books. Here are just a few of the things that these estate agents would prefer to keep to themselves:
They’re working for the vendor, not you
Though estate agents may seem to be your best friend when you’re viewing properties and negotiating, they’re firmly in the pay of the seller and will act accordingly. So be on your guard when divulging any information that may affect your negotiation strength, as this could be used against you by an unscrupulous agent.
Why the sellers are moving
This is very useful info to have and should be one of the first things to ask before buying a property, especially if the house seems a little too good to be true or the seller wants a quick sale. That’s because, even though there are many legitimate reasons for moving there are also plenty a seller may not want you to know. Things like potential expensive repair costs, bad neighbours or planning permission that they would rather leave the next owners to deal with. There’s no reason for the estate agent to not let you know the reason the vendor is moving and this is another classic estate agent trick. Ask them.
The crime figures of the area
Asking an estate agent what an area is like (at least as a buyer) will not give you the most accurate view as nothing is ever negative when it comes to selling a property. We’ve all seen adjectives like ‘up and coming’, ‘lively’ and ‘bohemian’ used in property ads, but these could just as easily also be substituted for ‘neglected’, ‘battleground’ and ‘bedsitland’. Check local crime figures on sites like police.uk and checkmystreet to get an accurate idea of what happens in your chosen area.
The price it sold for last time
The estate agent doesn’t have a vested interest in letting you know the last price a property sold for, as this could influence the price you offer. Somebody may buy a property for peanuts but then spent a small fortune in renovations, or the market price may have gone up due to local fluctuations, so this reluctance does make sense. However, if you do want to be nosy it’s easy to find out for yourself the last sold price by checking sites such as mouseprice and nethouseprices. Visit our Making an Offer Guide to find out which offer you should go in with first to help you purchase that dream home, first time.
Pending planning applications
Another thing that could certainly take the sheen off buying a property is finding out about the nuclear power station about to appear in the fields behind or next door’s approved extension that will be big enough to block out the sun. This is where you need to do your homework as simply asking the estate agent may not be enough. Check your local council’s online planning portal for applications and ask neighbours.
If there have been any neighbour disputes
Unless the dispute has taken a legal turn, disagreements with the neighbours do not have to be disclosed. If they are noisy or have late night parties, it’ll make you wish you’d never bought the property. Again, ask around and if you have the time, call on the neighbours to form your own opinion about whether you’d get on like the proverbial house on fire.
That something unspeakably horrible happened at the property
And we don’t mean that an avocado bathroom suite was installed in the 1970s. No, bad things may have happened at the property, which the estate agent is under no obligation to divulge. This is another classic estate agent trick and the best way to find out if it hides a grisly secret is to try and speak to locals or neighbours (you’ll be getting to know them quite well by now). Or Google the address or search it on local news sites if you’re really worried.
That you’re going to be in charge of things
Yep, the buck stops with you. Bear in mind that before buying a property, you are responsible for coordinating the people involved, unless you’ve hired a representative to take care of the property purchase on your behalf. That’s mortgage providers, solicitors, estate agents, removal firms, energy suppliers and the many other parties who will have a direct or indirect involvement in your property purchase. Again, make sure you have a nice big folder to store the reams of correspondence you’ll need to keep and refer to.
That parking is a nightmare
Our next estate agent trick is parking. If parking outside your chosen property is hotly contested, this could be a good enough reason for you to look elsewhere. For example, it may be near a commuter railway station, a hospital or school and be used as daytime parking for workers or visitors. This is something that may not be apparent, particularly if you visit at the weekend. Make sure you do some snooping and find out if local parking is just the ticket for your needs.
That it will test the strength of your marriage/partnership
However cool, calm and collected you may be, buying a property can be pretty nerve-wracking as it’s not just one of the biggest financial commitments you’ll make, it also generally means moving to a new, unknown home and area. If you’re doing it with a significant other as most people do, it can put strains on your relationship and there will be inevitable disagreements. Be prepared!
Head to our Buying a House Guide for everything you need to do next once you’ve viewed your dream property and have decided to make an offer. If you know any other estate agent tricks then let us know!