Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Making Contact With Only One Agent...Why?

As I've said a number of times before, I was 100% sure of the area I wanted to buy in. So certain was I, I also even knew the street! Having holidayed a number of times in the area, I was aware of various new housing developments that had sprung up in recent years, and a flat in one of those seemed ideal for me.

This was something I explained to my agent. As such, she was able to email me details of five or six properties that seemed suitable for me.

Let's provide a little bit of background at this point. I've subsequently learnt that all U.S. property that is for sale is displayed on a MLS - a Multiple Listing Service. A MLS is an information-sharing network or database for estate agents (or "realtors") in a particular region or city. An estate agent can use their local MLS to look for ALL suitable properties for a particular buyer by area and/or price range.

This is different to what I experience in the UK. Here, mainly due to how estate agents get their fees paid, the majority of properties that are on the market are only available through the instructed agent. If I was giving advice about property buying in the UK, I'd tell you to speak to as many agents as you can possibly stand!

Therefore, being in contact with only one agent won't hinder your property search at all!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Introducing the Agents

Whether or not you've found a suitable property through a portal, it's now time to contact some agents. And this, I'm afraid, is where it starts to get difficult.

Seeing as I'm based in the UK and I'm buying in Florida, clearly the easiest method of communication for me is email. Moreover, having some experience of property-buying in the UK, I was used to get regular updates of new properties by email.

I identified six different agents on the Sun Sentinel portal, whose websites and email addresses I then looked up. I emailed them all with a brief message, explaining what and why I was looking to buy in my chosen area. Out of the six, only one replied!

No, I don't know if my experience was a "blip" and that normally agents are much keener to email back. But what I do know is that I was rather disappointed by the poor response.

I was however extremely fortunate that the one agent that did respond turned out to be incredibly friendly and helpful - and especially so with my initial questions. I would thoroughly recommend the agent I used. Please contact me ( if you'd like to discuss this further.

Top Tip: What with modern technology and cheap international calls there is, of course, nothing to prevent you from calling up agents! However, when I tried this tack, the agent (not the one mentioned above) kept mentioning my need to be in the area so he could show me properties. Whilst I don't disagree with him, when you're setting out on the buying process, the last thing you want is to be pressured into viewings. Certainly, in the early days, I was more interested in getting my queries about buying in Florida resolved.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Area Chosen...Now Find The Properties

Okay. So you've got your area. Now the difficult part - finding some suitable properties!

The best advice I would give is to find a property portal that will display many properties by different price range, amenties and so on. Try your friend and mine, Google - enter in something like "___ Florida property", depending on the area or town where you want to buy.

I used the property section of the south Florida newspaper, Sun Sentinel: There's a number of items you can search under.

Top Tip: Try to find out the Zip Code of the area(s) you want to buy in. You can then easily make searches in property portals such as the one above. After all, at this stage, you may not be able to pinpoint the exact area or streets you're interested in.

So, go do some searching and see what you can find!

First Step - Deciding On An Area!

When I decided to buy in Florida, I was 100% sure of the area in which I wanted a holiday home. It was somewhere that my parents and I (sometimes together, sometimes separately!) had holidayed many, many times in the past. We all know the area very well, from navigation of the streets to things like location of local supermarkets, shops and so on.

If you're unsure of the area in which you want to buy, but know for sure it's got to be somewhere in Florida, you're got to do a few more beginning steps than I did! I'm sure you will know how to do suitable background research. If nothing else, you'll have lots of fun on making trips out there!