As with buying a home, an estate agent can often be the difference between a smooth buying process and a wholly frustrating experience, not to mention influencing the speed at which you find the right property for you. It is also worth bearing in mind that most estate agents are working on behalf of the seller – not you, the vendor – so they will not necessarily have your best interests at heart.
If you sign on with an estate agency and register your desire for them to find you a commercial property, there are a number of useful questions you can ask early on to help you ascertain how helpful their advice and knowledge will be.
· Is the agent a member of the National Association of Estate Agents or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors? Do they subscribe to the strict code of ethics of these bodies?
· Do they specialise in commercial properties?
· Is the estate agent representing you or the various sellers?
· What estate agency qualifications does the agent hold?
· How will the estate agent help you accomplish your goals?
· Will the agent show you premises that meet your requirements and provide you with a list of the properties he or she is showing you?
When looking around the property for sale, there are also a number of questions that will help you to get the right information.
· Why is the current business moving?
· How long has it been on the market?
· Is it chain-free?
· What is the current business leaving behind?
· How much are the average heating/electricity bills?
· How much ground rent/service charges do you pay?
· What are the neighbours like?
· Have they ever been burgled?
· Have they made any improvements?
· Do they have the relevant warranties?
· How easy is it to park outside? Any permits needed for on road parking? If so, how much?
· What are the local public transport links like?
· What local amenities are there?
Finally, do your homework and find out what similar properties are selling for in the area. This will empower you when talking to the estate agent and will help to ensure you are not at risk of paying over the odds for a property.