Five questions to ask your property agent

by Latashni Gobi Nathan (latagn@sph.com.sg)
published on 25 February 2016

Keen on buying property? Be a savvy property shopper by asking the right questions.

As important as it is for the property agent to provide you with crucial information, it is also your responsibility to ask and find out what you need to know. Here are key questions you should ask your property agent.

1. How long has the property been on the market?

You may feel tempted to get a house as quickly as possible, but when faced with a house that has been on the market for three months and longer, it is crucial to ask your agent why it has not been bought yet.

Chief executive Jack Chua of ERA Realty Network said: "It would probably mean that it is not popular with buyers or it could be overpriced.

When buying a property, always consider whether it will be easy to sell in the future. The ease of sale will have a great impact on your financial planning if you are planning to buy another property. "There could also be problems with the house itself that can be pricey to fix. As a prospective buyer, you are entitled to have all the information about the property."  Mr Shawn Tan, the chief executive of More Property said: "If there are no problems but the property is overpriced, push your agent to reduce the price. The seller may accept it, seeing how most buyers cannot meet their asking price."

2.  Why is the property for sale?

It may feel like you are asking the seller a personal question, but knowing the history of the home is vital. It can influence the value at which you agree to buy the property or your decision to buy it. Mr Tan said: "Get your agent to do his best to find out. Some of the most common reasons are that the seller has to move overseas and wants to quickly sell his or her home or the seller has already bought a new property. It could also be that the property was put on sale after the death of the homeowner. Should you be uncomfortable with the reason, move on."

3. How soon can you have the keys?

Mr Tan said: "Have the sellers already found another home? If they have, they are probably keen to sell as fast as possible. If you have to wait till they find their own property, it can add to the uncertainty of when you will be able to move in or start renovation works."

4.  Can you show me a recent transaction to show what the house is worth?

You may be interested in that one property in a specific estate, but Mr Tan said it is crucial to know the difference in price between the property you are interested in and the one next door. Mr Tan said: "Many people don't think to ask this. You should question the agent why they think the house is worth the price they are selling it for. Make sure the house you are buying is fairly priced compared to the rest of the local market and you are not overpaying. A good agent will provide you with their justification for the asking price."

This is where your agent's expertise comes in. He or she should be able to tell you if the property is overvalued or being offered at just the right price.

5. What are the facilities and amenities nearby?

When you move into a property, you are not just moving into the home but the estate itself. Be sure to know how well the estate suits the lifestyle of yours and your family's. Mr Chua said: "It is better for you to inspect the surroundings in person. Always take a walk or a drive around the neighbourhood and do so at different times of the day to fully appreciate the environment  that you may eventually be living in."

I Find out how to choose the right property agent for your real estate needs in tomorrow's edition of The Straits Times Classified.

Look out for this Saturday's special tabloid-sized edition of The Straits Times Classified Properties section.