Buying or selling a property is anything but easy, what with all the legalese, negotiations, counter offers and deal talk. Even if you are an experienced buyer or seller, all this can get quite exasperating and difficult to keep track of. That is where a settlement agent steps in.
What does a settlement agent do?
In simple terms, a settlement agent (or solicitor) is a mediator between the buyer and seller, who maintains a written record of all agreements made between both parties. Settlement agents are also responsible for verifying all property documents, conducting the necessary checks and facilitating timely and smooth closure of a property deal. Transfer of property, monetary transactions and signing of papers usually occur in the presence of a settlement agent.
Although your real estate broker will recommend a settlement agency when you buy or sell a property, you have the right to choose a real estate settlement agency based on your own research and recommendations. Here are a few things to factor in when you set out to find a real estate settlement agent.
Are they licensed and insured?
When you buy or sell a property, you are practically dealing with all your life’s savings. You certainly wouldn’t want an inexperienced, or worse, bogus company handling all your money. Always ensure that the settlement agent you are contracting holds all the necessary licenses and certifications.
Are they experienced?
Is your real estate settlement agency new in the business or have they been around for quite some time? A competent settlement agent will help you ask the right questions while reviewing a property and is less likely to miss out on fine, yet crucial details while listing out the terms. Any ambiguity in the deal can leave you with regrets or even severe losses later on.
Are they independent and unbiased?
Always look for a settlement agency that has no affiliation with a real estate broker or any vested interest in the property deal. This ensures that the agency will do its best to uphold your interest and carry out the transaction on fair terms.
Are they capable of offering high quality services?
Professionalism and work ethics should be of utmost priority while choosing a real estate settlement agent. A settlement agent should be passionate about his work and be willing to go that extra mile to make the situation easy and comfortable for you. An unprofessional settlement agent, on the other hand, may just add to your stress and put you off property deals for a long time to come.
What do others have to say about them?
Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask around for references. Try and get in touch with some of the agency’s older clients and ask for an objective feedback. Are the agents personable? Do they put undue pressure on their clients? Are they able to clear any doubts and questions convincingly? A bunch of satisfied clients is a healthy indication that a particular settlement agent may be the right fit for you.
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Liam Straw is an independant settlement agent in Perth. He has vast experience in dealing with property issues and has listed some of the best practices to be carried out while selecting a settlement agent in this post.