Estate Agents (Part 3)
In my blog posts over the past two weeks, we’ve been thinking about how to find great deals through estate agents, and this has prompted a very legitimate question. “How does one actually talk to an estate agent and find properties if they’re pursuing multiple strategies?”
For example, it could be that you’re looking for properties to flip but are also looking for properties to buy and let out – and if we’re looking at this on a very basic level, then these types of properties are probably going to be completely different. The buy to lets are probably going to be located in slightly cheaper areas which are good for renting out, whereas the flip properties (which are likely to be sold on to owner occupiers) are likely to be of higher quality and in slightly better areas. As such, you’ll be looking for two different types of properties and possibly two different areas.
So, how do we go into the estate agents with confidence and without leading them to believe we’re wasting their time and don’t know what we’re doing?
Rather than give the impression that we’re following every strategy out there, I would suggest introducing the strategies sequentially. I would pick one strategy and for the first few weeks or month, concentrate on finding properties which fit that particular strategy. As time goes by, then start to convey the message that you’re also looking for other types of property.
It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t be talking to just one single estate agent, but hopefully all the agents in your target area. However, the reality is that when you visit many of these agents, once you walk through the door they are probably going to want you to convince them that your plan is very specific and “niche” – as well as that you know what you’re talking about.
Often, you will find that a lot of the agents will chance their arm by testing you out. It’s likely they’ll send you pretty much every instruction which comes through their doors rather than those that just fit your strategy. As such, you’ll probably find that you end up looking at properties which suit different strategies anyway – even if they are not what you had asked for.
This is all well and good, but how do you progress from here? Well, you’ve got to get to know the estate agent and build rapport so that you can reach the point where you can just pick up the phone and have a chat with them. You have to find a way to get better acquainted.
To do this, I advise spending time with them. When you’re beginning to investigate an area, I suggest actually going into their offices in person and physically sitting at their desks. If this isn’t possible because you’re overseas for example, then whilst not quite as effective as being there in person, I would say that speaking on the telephone is probably the next best thing. Ideally though, get into their offices. Sit down with them, build rapport and pop by as often as you can – maybe once a week if they are local to you or once a month (plus a series of phone calls) if they’re not.
If you’re new to investing then you might be fearful that this would irritate them. In my opinion, this is unlikely because maintaining communication with an agent shows that you’re keen; and if you’re keen, then there’s a potential sale to be made – which is ultimately what the agent is after.
Of course, if an agent does ring and invite you to do a viewing, then you must go along even if the property isn’t quite what you’re after. This gives you the chance to talk to the estate agent and a chance to learn. You’ll have the opportunity to look at a property in your investment area and get an idea of value. You can then assess what that particular type of property is selling for and can consider how it compares with others in surrounding streets.
Sometimes, by attending a viewing that isn’t really for you, it can open other opportunities. I’ve found many a time when I’ve been to inspect a property with an agent, the conversation has turned to other properties that have just come on to the market which I didn’t know about. Sometimes, this has even led to another viewing there and then (if the agent has been lucky enough to have the keys on them).
Equally, it might be that when you arrive or finish at a viewing, you notice a “For Sale” board with another agent that you hadn’t spotted before – and this could turn out to be an ideal property. So, do attend any viewings you are called about because you never know where it could lead.
Here’s to successful property investing.
Peter Jones B.Sc FRICS
Chartered Surveyor, author and property investor
By the way, I’ve rewritten and updated my best-selling e-book, The Successful Property Investor’s Strategy Workshop, which is an account of how I put together my multi-property portfolio, starting from scratch and with no money of my own, and how you can do the same. For more details please go to: www.ThePropertyTeacher.co.uk/the-successful-property-investors-strategy-workshop