IF YOU’RE A first time home buyer with your initial house viewing on the calendar, you might be anxious about what to expect.
In most cases, this will be your first interaction with an estate agent in charge of selling a house. It’s an opportunity to ask the right questions to show the estate agent you’re a serious buyer.
We’ve got the inside scoop from estate agents themselves on the best and smartest questions to ask… and a few tips on how to avoid putting them off completely.
1. Say you’ve been looking for a while
Even if you’ve just arrived at your first viewing in your house search, mum’s the word. Ronan Crinion, founder and managing director of MoveHome, explained that estate agents are more likely to take a potential buyer seriously if they aren’t at their first viewing. “It’s hard to sell a house to a first time looker, you have to be looking longer,” says Crinion.
While there’s no need to lie to an estate agent, there’s also no need to elaborate on how long you’ve been looking at properties if you’re at the beginning of your search. A simple “We’ve been looking for a while” will suffice.
2. Be confident about your choice of neighbourhood
If an estate agent asks you where you want to live, replying that you aren’t sure isn’t likely to inspire confidence with your estate agent. “If you don’t know where you want to live, you probably aren’t a serious buyer,” says Crinion.
3. Don’t ask questions you don’t need to
Choose your questions wisely. Sean McKeogh, senior negotiator at Brock Delapp in Inchicore, says, “We find the most serious buyers are those who say very little.”
Viewing a house often means that you’re the only person looking at the house while the estate agent waits, but that doesn’t mean you need to chatter away. Crinion echoes this, suggesting, “There can be silence, just enjoy walking through the house and take it all in.”
4. Read the listing first
McKeogh explains that many people viewing houses try to fill those seemingly awkward silences with questions, but most of the questions they ask can be answered by reading the provided brochure. Asking questions that are answered already in the brochure isn’t the way to the estate agent’s heart.
5. If your interest is genuine, show it
Focus on your relationship with the estate agent. Danny Butler, Managing Director of Smith & Butler Estates, suggests focusing on your relationship with the estate agent, rather than trying to second-guess what other offers are coming in. He advises, “Build a relationship with the agent. If you show a genuine interest you’ll be kept updated on the property throughout the process.”
6. But keep your other offers to yourself
Butler explains that you should keep quiet on your other offers. “Telling an estate agent that you have offered on two or three other properties won’t show any faith in you making an offer on the property that the agent is selling.” If you’ve made bids on other properties, zip your lips.
7. Try looking at the end of the year
Get in touch in November and December. Crinion says most first time buyers stop looking at houses in the run up to Christmas, but this is actually the time you could get the best deal.
“The ones that are for sale at that time of year haven’t sold and you can make a very good deal on those because vendors want to sit down to their Christmas dinner knowing a deal is done.”
There are a few questions or comments estate agents say they hear often but wish they didn’t. From neighbourhood specifics to the logistics of your much-needed mortgage approval letter, file these away to ensure you make the best impression with an estate agent at a viewing.
1. “What’s the neighbourhood like?”
The estate agent isn’t likely to know what it’s actually like to live in the neigbourhood, says Crinion, since they don’t actually live there themselves.
Instead, he encourages prospective buyers to come back on a weekend afternoon and speak to neighbours cutting their grass or working on their gardens. “You should always get talking to a neighbor that’s an owner-occupier. They will give you the greatest insight.”
2. “My mortgage approval is on the way”
Estate agents will likely need to see proof of mortgage approval before they’ll take you seriously as a buyer, says Butler.
“We see a lot of buyers saying they have approval and their application letter is in the process of being sent out. But this can take 2-3 weeks. We’ve come across errors on the approval letters and this, again, can cause further delays on proceeding with a sale.”
You can visit house viewings before your mortgage approval has come through, but in order to be taken seriously as a buyer, you’ll need to have it on hand when you bid.