Buying a property will likely be one of the largest investments you will make whether it is a holiday home, a retirement home or your "forever" home. Finding a good agent to sell your property is just as important. In order to make the right decision you need to find a good, licensed estate agent based in Cyprus. Not all agents are the same and we will point out some questions to ask and give you some information to help you choose the right person for the job.
Firstly, let me tell you the difference between an unlicensed agent and a licensed agent.
A licensed agent holds a license from The Cyprus Real Estate Agents Association (CREAA). This means any contract signed with a licensed agent is enforceable by law protecting both the estate agent and the vendor.
A licensed agent also must carry insurance to protect the purchaser against either the agent or developer becoming bankrupt.
A licensed agent can also save you thousands of Euros. A licensed agent in Cyprus means that his receipt is deductible from Capital Gains Tax hence saving the seller money.
An estate agents fee is paid by the seller. A buyer should never pay an agent a commission or a "finders fee." Smaller companies can be flexible and have lower commission rates if exclusive contracts are signed and some can be slightly higher for example if other agents are involved. This would be worked our in a signed contract before marketing begins.
Unlicensed agents are actually working illegally. They may have nice websites with lots of hits on it however, they may want to lock you in to an agreement with a high commission rate and there is no law protecting them or the seller if anything goes wrong. Many do work professionally and are trustworthy BUT it is still illegal to market and sell properties without being a licensed estate agent.
An unlicensed agent can not legally handle any money. Many licensed estate agents don't handle money either as the laywers generally handle all finances and legal matters in order to simplify the transaction.
Questions for your Licensed Agent from Buyers
Does the property have title deeds?
A property with title deeds will not have a mortgage on the land. Your appointed lawyer can do a search at the Lands Office to make sure there are no encumbrances (mortgages on the land) and check the status of the deeds and advise you accordingly.
Can I have a valuation done?
Yes, but the Lands Office will officially determine what the value is and it may differ slightly from the valuer's amount and this affects the transfer fees.
How can we secure the property?
Generally a good faith deposit is recommended in order to take the property off the market. We usually ask for a reservation fee of 5000 euros which is paid in the first instance to the purchaser's lawyer in order for him/her to do the necessary checks before paying it to the vendor's lawyer. The remaining payment terms are then detailed in the contract which is drawn up by the lawyers. If no deposit is given then the sellers and agent are free to show the property to other clients. In an aggressive market or on a bargain priced property it is important to provide the deposit so you do not lose the property to another buyer.
Do you recommend lawyers?
Many estate agents can recommend several lawyers that they know to be professional and have a good reputation. Never use a lawyer that anyone says must be used and/or offers free services. Call several lawyers and ask questions, make sure they specialize is conveyancing and fees can be discussed beforehand also. Your chosen solicitor can inform you of all costs involved in buying a property and advise you on your purchase.
Questions for a Licensed Agent from Sellers
How many and what homes have you sold in my area?
This will give you an idea of the fair market value and how your agent is doing in comparison to other agents you may interview.
How close is the selling price to the listed price of homes sold?
Again, good for comparison and to know if the suggested valuation of your home and listing price will meet your financial needs after commission and other fees are paid.
On average how long does it take you to sell a property?
In Cyprus, we have seen properties sit on the market for years mainly due to the sellers refusing to price according to the market, faulty building or problematic. If a property is priced at market value and has title deeds then you can compare to other homes that are similar. Your agent can and should give you tips on home staging, improvements and updates that could be done to increase curb appeal and attractiveness of the home.
Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact?
Many websites have updated Testimonials pages that you can read. If you need more information they could provide emails for their previous clients. Luckily, Paphos and Cyprus are small so word of mouth spreads quickly so usually talking to people in town will provide some good feedback.
How many buyers are you currently working with?
Many agents work with other companies also so they are not only helping their own buyers, but are in collaboration with others who will bring buyers to them if they do not have a suitable home on their own books. Most of the established and professional agents have good working relationships with other agents both in Cyprus and overseas.
What if I am not happy with the job you are doing to market my property?
If you have not chosen a sole agency agreement then a seller is free to market their home with as many agents as they like. Some sellers like only one agent to have access to their home while others want as many as possible. The advantage of having one agent is that there is only once company to deal with i.e. one set of keys, one contract to sign making it easier for sellers to deal with one professional company that they can trust. In addition, with our network of partners and associates we can market the property through these companies increasing the number of viewings and chances to sell the property. All viewings with associates and their clients will be accompanied by ourselves.
How will you market my property?
Marketing to overseas clients usually requires a variety of resources from a strong online presence to good relationships with other agents. Try to gauge how well your agent knows their market and how to effectively gain qualified buyers. Also make sure they have the local market covered which would require more word of mouth and professional relationships with local businesses.
In the end, you have to decide who will do the best job for you. Allowing someone into your home or allowing someone to help you choose a home to purchase requires a level of trust and understanding. A good professional relationship and an agent who really understands your needs as a buyer or a seller will help everyone enjoy their real estate experience. It should be a memorable and happy one, not one filled with stress and uncertainty! We look forward to hearing feedback of your experience with us or other agents and welcome any additions to our real estate pointers above.
Cyprus101 and PropertyofCyprus are Registered Agents #560, License #41E marketing brands of Bettabilt Homes.