Looking to buy your own property for ownstay or investment? Unless you’re very experienced in the field, it would be a good idea to engage the services of a real estate professional.
Thankfully there are many out there, although it is prudent to identify those who excel and would be an asset or key player in helping you build real estate wealth.
The problem is, how do you distinguish these individuals from the many who are not? Here are five criteria that could help.
First, it’s important to note that not all who call themselves “property agents” are licensed under the Board of Valuers, Appraisers, Estate Agents and Property Managers (BOVAEP). There are typically four types of agents:
- unlicensed (no designation);
- real estate negotiators (REN);
- probationary estate agents (PEA); and
- real estate agents (REA).
REAs would rank the highest in terms of professional qualification as they would have completed the necessary academic qualification (the minimum being a certificate of estate agency); two years’ worth of activity logging; and passing of the mandatory interview by the BOVAEP.
PEAs are ranked second as they have the academic qualification but are still in progress when it comes to their activity logbook.
RENs are ranked third, as one can become a negotiator simply by completing a two-day course in real estate sales.
Unlicensed agents, as the name suggests, are not affiliated with BOVAEAP.
So, it’s best to seek out a professional who is knowledgeable, experienced and affiliated with a regulatory body, namely REAs, PEAs, or RENs who have 2-3 years in the industry. They should be able to show you their respective qualifications during the course of work.
2. The right fit
It is worth the time to find a professional whose values align with yours – for example, if your plan is to invest for the long term, earn consistent rental income, and attain sustainable capital appreciation.
Such a professional would be more proactive and familiar with sourcing for relevant deals in the market. There is no point in, say, hiring someone who is passionate about flipping properties, as that is not part of your plan.
As such, before you engage an expert, you should be clear on your own objectives for buying real estate.
Still, you could run into a problem: often, most property experts claim they can serve “anyone”, be it investors, flippers or homebuyers. As such, it’s important to find out about their core values. Some questions to ask include:
- Why did you join the real estate industry?
- How much experience do you have in real estate investing and/or ownership?
- What is your primary focus in real estate dealings?
From this, you’d be able to determine if they are a good fit for sourcing and securing property deals.
3. Area of expertise
This is straightforward. If you are in the Klang Valley and wish to buy a property in Subang Jaya, it is practical to hire a professional in Subang Jaya, for he or she would be more sensitive to market activity in that vicinity and, thus, could serve you efficiently.
It doesn’t make sense for you to engage someone who is based in Cheras, Ampang, Month Kiara, and so on.
There are professionals who claim to sell property “everywhere”. But those who know plenty about limited locations are more valuable than those who know little about many locations.
4. Marketing and presentation
This refers to the agent’s ability to be presentable in terms of grooming, dressing, and corporate image.
One needs to be able to present oneself professionally, which includes decent conversational skills, a well-designed and -managed corporate website, and an organised workplace.
It would be a bonus if he or she represents a larger estate agency, is affiliated with various networking groups, has undertaken educational or upskilling courses, and/or is involved in community initiatives such as charities or volunteer organisations.
This person would have a huge pool to draw from to source property deals, secure buyers for sellers, and find tenants for landlords. The bigger the network, the more valuable the professional.
5. Relationship building
While many professionals claim to be people-oriented, the truth is, most aren’t. This is because agents typically earn commission from securing deals, so many of them would be “friendly” up until they close the sale and receive their monies.
If this is the case, they are transaction-based and they won’t actively keep in touch with you thereafter.
But if you can find an agent who keeps you updated on property deals and industry news above and beyond the primary engagement, you might want to maintain a relationship with them.
Pro tip: he or she could be a diamond in the industry, so keep in touch with them every so often over coffee.
This article first appeared in KCLau.com. Ian Tai is a financial content writer, dividend investor, and author of many articles on finance featured on KCLau.com in Malaysia, and ‘Fifth Person’, ‘Value Invest Asia’ and ‘Small Cap Asia’ in Singapore.