Why buyers need to be honest with their estate agent

Providing your estate agent with an honest assessment of your finances and needs will make it easier for them to match you with the perfect property.

As a rule, people don’t like to discuss their intimate financial details. Nevertheless, when they buy a home they not only have to disclose this information, but have to do so to a comparative stranger. Even worse, this has to be done before an agent will take you out to view properties. This makes sense because agents have to ascertain what a buyer can afford before they start setting up appointments with sellers. It would be pointless to view homes that the buyer can’t afford.

Why buyers need to be honest with their estate agent

Affordability is not the only issue and it’s as important to discuss features and characteristics of a home that appeal to you and those that don’t (if you abhor flat-roofed homes – say so before the house hunt begins and if you have an aversion to face-brick make sure your agent is aware of the fact. The more information you supply, the better.

“Some buyers are prone to bending the truth regarding their financial status,” says William Docherty, an agent with Re/Max Dazzle. “Whether it’s a pride thing or they are just ignorant to the facts, these buyers seem to live in the belief that the banks will not delve, even slightly, into their financial life. It needs to be understood that this is always the case and any information that could be an obstacle to obtaining a bond needs to be identified, addressed and rectified as soon as possible. Buyers need to understand that banks are very thorough these days; they have to be thanks to the National Credit Act (NCA) because they have to be absolutely certain that the applicant is able to carry the burden of a mortgage bond.

“Firstly, as this is primarily a financial transaction, the buyer will need to disclose any information that could hinder, or improve, his ability to obtain finance. The agent will ask questions to ascertain this including the buyer’s income, availability of a deposit, whether the buyer has a property to sell in order to be able to afford to buy, whether there are any judgments and whether the buyer has kept his accounts up to date. This is basic, general info that all credit providers will want to assess. If it’s any consolation, it is as much a pain for the agent as for the buyer, but it needs to be done if we want banks to consider lending a considerable amount of money with which to buy a house.”

He says the other aspect that often puts a spanner in the works in the house hunting exercise is when buyers neglect to give agents the correct information as to what they are looking for in a property.

“As unlikely as this sounds, some buyers are extremely cagey and prefer to play their cards close to their chest as to what type of home they like. It’s almost as if they adopt an ‘I’ll know what I want when I see it’ approach. It’s important to remember that while this policy may work on the odd occasion, generally speaking it usually turns out to be a huge time waster for both the buyer and agent, bringing stress and frustration into the house hunting equation.”

Docherty says it’s imperative for buyers to trust their agent and to be as open and honest as possible. He says that while he understands that unscrupulous agents have tarnished the industry in the past, the agent of today is not only higher qualified than before, thanks to social media, ‘bad’ agents essentially have no where to hide and are quickly driven out of the marketplace.

“The most is important thing to remember is South African agents work for both the buyer and seller. People forget that while agents legally represent whoever gives them a written mandate (the seller) they are still morally and ethically bound by the Act to look after both parties.”

Although some may think it, your agent is not a magician and will not be able to pull out the perfect property from a hat. He needs a solid foundation in order to help you find your ideal home. Work with your agent, give him the correct information and there’s every chance he’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in a property.