In this series of posts (read part one here and part two here), I’ve been considering how to find great deals through estate agents and in the last post, we looked at how coming across with a clear plan is the best way to show that you’re a serious investor who “means business”.
But, what if you are pursuing multiple strategies and are therefore looking for more than one type of property? For example, it might be that you’re looking for properties to flip to owner occupiers (which therefore might be of a higher specification in a relatively good area), but you may also be on the look-out for buy to lets and these may be of a lower value and in perhaps a slightly cheaper area.
When this is the case, how can you approach an estate agent and still be considered “serious” when you’re being relatively vague on what it is that you want?
My advice is to introduce each of your property strategies sequentially. Focus on one of the strategies for a few weeks (or even a few months), and concentrate on working with the agent to find properties that would be suitable for that strategy. Following on from this and as you start to build a relationship with the agent, you can then set about introducing the other strategy(s) as well.
Now, when I say “agent”, I actually mean “agents”, because you won’t just be talking to one agent but all of those that are located in your target area. You’ll probably find that most will test you out by sending you every instruction that comes into their offices – so, you might find that you end up looking at properties which suit different strategies anyway, even if they are not what you asked for.
Having reached this point, how do you progress from here? Once again, as with last week, it’s about building a relationship with the agent to get better acquainted. I’m not suggesting that you pop by with coffee and cake (although some investors do this, just not myself) but by actually going in person to the office and physically sitting at their desk.
Of course, if you don’t live in your investment area then this might be hard, but calling them up once a week so that you remain at the forefront of their minds (and so that you can find out about anything new that has come on the market), will help to make this possible.
If you do live relatively close by, then I suggest heading into the office once a week as this is far more effective. If you’re new to investing or are just starting out, then you might be wary that this would irritate them. In my opinion, this is unlikely because maintaining communication shows that you’re interested; and if you’re interested, then there’s a potential sale to be made and this is ultimately what they are after. You’re not being a nuisance; you’re committed and are serious about what you’re doing!
Some individuals go a step further with their “agent/investor relationship” and buy a gift such as a bottle of Champagne as a “thanks” when a deal goes through. This isn’t a bad thing – I’m not talking about a little brown envelop stuffed with notes or anything like that though, which would be illegal – but yes, sometimes showing your appreciation can go a long way and can help to keep you firm in their mind.
What is important though, is that 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 a chance to talk to the agent as well as the opportunity to compare the property with others in the area.
What’s more, it can open other opportunities. Often, you’ll find that when you do a viewing that isn’t for you, the agent will fill you in on any other properties that have just come onto their books, or, you might spot other properties close by that you didn’t know about. And one of these could turn out to be the ideal property.
It’s also great for the agent if you go along to the viewing – they can feedback to their vendor that there IS interest in their property, and by building rapport, you could turn out to be one of their “preferred” buyers.
Peter Jones B.Sc FRICS
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