Top tips if you’re thinking of selling or letting
So you’re thinking of buying or selling?
Photos, description & preparation/presentation of the property
There is nothing worse than poor quality or inadequate photos when you are searching for a property to rent or buy. It could be argued that not everybody reads the text in the description for each property when they’re browsing online or in a brochure but absolutely everybody will look at & absorb the photos before making a decision to view or not.
The text description is a good place to mention all the benefits of the property including location, size, type of property and also if there are items in the photos that will not be included. Do not skimp on quality or quantity of photos! If you are appointing an agent then ask to see brochures of recent/similar properties that they have rented or sold so you can judge their skills with a camera objectively.
Some agencies are starting to use video and it is hoped that video will be integrated into property websites in the near future. Preparation of the property is extremely important and this is where the owner must play their part. The main points to note would be to eliminate clutter, ensure all lightbulbs & lamps are working, put fresh mattress protectors on all beds or fully dress the beds if possible.
Light scuffing on painting or minor cleaning tend not to affect photos but make sure those final touches are completed before any potential clients enter the front door. A freshly painted front door or recently powerhosed driveway always help. The smell of fresh paint, plug in fragrance dispensers and the heating on timer in winter are important.
Remove cheap storage units or lots of free standing units which cramp the floor space and make rooms feel smaller. Without being too extreme, our motto can be “if in doubt then throw it out!”. Small, low cost items like new light shades with a dash of colour and brighter bulbs inside can make a huge difference.
Add the BER! (building energy rating)
It is a legal requirement since 1st January 2009 to display a valid BER rating for every property that is advertised for rent or sale in Ireland.
The only exceptions are listed buildings. Even if it was not a legal requirement then it would still be best practice to display a BER, especially for rental properties in order to avoid disputes later about damp/mould and heating/ventilation which are common disagreements during tenancies between landlords & tenants.
The cost of a BER can be anywhere between €100-€200 and the certificate lasts for 10 years so this is a “no brainer” and a must for every owner who is going to advertise their property in order to avoid possible fines. Always appoint an SEAI registered assessor (www.seai.ie ) and ask your local property agency to recommend a good assessor who has a proven track record.
The legal bit – Engagement Letter
If a property owner is considering using an agency to advertise their property then that agency is obliged legally to provide the owner with an Engagement Letter before they begin providing services. The agency is allowed a 7 day grace period to receive the signed Engagement Letter back from the landlord but it is best practice to receive the Engagement Letter back signed before the ad goes live online.
Under the Property Services (Regulation) Act, which came into law in 2011, any agency in Ireland that does not send an Engagement Letter to their landlords or vendors is breaking the law and acting outside the remit of the Regulator (www.psr.ie ) who licenses all agencies in Ireland.
All agencies must have professional indemnity insurance in order to receive their license from the Regulator each year and are required to pay into a compensation fund to protect consumers from rogue operators. If your agent does not offer you an Engagement Letter or you do not sign & return this to them within 7 days of advertising then it’s likely that their professional indemnity insurance would not cover any claims made later. Do not appoint an agency that doesn’t explain or provide an Engagement Letter to all of their property owning clients. If your property is for sale then the agency is obliged to keep on file a copy of one photo ID & utility bill showing your own address. If an agency do not ask you for these documents then either they are not aware of their own basic obligations or worse they are aware but don’t care which would not bode well for a successful & professional relationship later.
Choosing an Estate Agent
If a property owner is leaning towards using an agency then we would suggest meeting one that have come recommended or at least meet more than one before asking the following questions.
Remember that when you’re selling you’ll have one chance to make a good impression on buyers and achieve the best price possible and your agent will play a major part in achieving both of these.
If you are renting your property then you’ll know of the increased rights that tenants have during their tenancy.
You’re placing a lot of faith, trust & responsibility in your letting agent to find you suitable tenants so don’t rush into any agreement with an agency and always do your homework first to check out reports from other landlords or even ask to speak with existing clients of your short listed agencies.
How long is the agency in business?
Are they licensed by the Property Regulator (www.psr.ie) and can they show you their actual license (credit card sized which should be valid for current year)?
How many people work in the company & how many properties do they currently have advertised?
Are they willing to carry out viewings on evenings & weekends?
What similar properties have they rented/sold nearby recently?
Did the agent mention an Engagement Letter or show you their license from the Property Regulator (www.psr.ie)?
Ask if the agent has any reasonable suggestions for the property in terms of preparation
Find an Estate Agent close to you, check out our Estate Agent directory here.