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By Mridul Mayank
Chief - Channel Partner Relationship, PS Group

Is an agent at all necessary when purchasing a new home?

In the present era of abundance of information available online, it can become difficult for the customer to focus his/her property search. An agent assists the customer with proper consultancy & help to pin-point on the choices available. A third party opinion always helps. 

How does one vet a listed agent?

While surfing for properties online, most listings are done by channel partners and generally verified by the portals, where they (brokers) list the projects.

Traditionally, real estate purchase through an agent used to be based on the feedback from personal network. Or developers used to give mandate to a particular agent thus the customer were bound to purchase through them.

With RERA kicking in, going forward, all the agents will have to get themselves registered with the RERA body & their registration will be time bound, which will be re-issued after 5 years, based on criteria/parameters decided by the RERA body. This will lead to two things: enhance trade integrity and upgrade the levels of service being provided by the agents.

You spoke about portals…can you name a few?

With the world moving its business to online domain, a lot of real estate portals have come into the play. Among the whole gamut of online portals, magicbricks.com,  99acres.com, housing.com, etc, are a couple of portals one can start their search with. Once basic information is gathered, a reliable channel partner comes in handy when it comes to seek advices on amenities, quality of project and promoter capability, which usually extends beyond a portal and hence can be trusted.

Would channel partners be external, internal, or a mix of both?

Channel partners are external stakeholders of a real estate developer company. They are the extended sales force of the company while also being the brand ambassadors of the developer house.

Presently, a majority of property sales transpire through channel partners, validating the extent to which their advice is taken seriously. Besides, a customer can always engage with a developer anytime but for a developer to perpetually engage with a customer would warrant a large sales force, making channel partners a logical extension.

It would be expensive method to engage an agent. What’s your take on that?

A channel partner charges only 2% of the total value as the fee -- can be charged from the seller or buyer. For new bookings, channel partners do not generally charge the customer and are remunerated by the developer; during resale transactions, they charge the seller and buyer.

On the contrary, the cost could be higher in the absence of a channel partner as the buyer could end up making avoidable judgment errors.

Do channel partners/brokers are liable to check documents?

Once the buyer engages with the developer, the developer is expected to undertake complete responsibility. However, in case a channel partner does so, it is seen as a value-added service, helping the channel partner build a rapport with the customer that could potentially even lead to a repeat purchase. But yes, it is not mandatory for a channel partner to be engaged in the paperwork.

Are agents competent to negotiate?

This varies though channel partners do assist customers get better rates. However, at PS Group we do not negotiate on price, which means that the price quoted by a salesperson directly dealing with the customer and quoted by our senior manager will be the same.

How many roles does an agent play during a transaction?

The agent is involved in the transaction from the very initial stage. He/she starts from sourcing the lead/prospective client for a project. At first he/she needs to understand the requirement of the customer and then match it with the best available option in the market. Next, the agent connects the customer with the developer for project presentation and takes forward the discussion from searching for the project stage to project finalisation. Once project and units are finalised, the agent’s responsibility shifts to the payment collection as he/she remains responsible for the same, till the project is not handed over to the customer.

Your advice to customers seeking to buy a new home?

Please check a few things. One, if enquiring through a channel partner, it would be prudent to route through a certified channel partner.
Two, seek to buy from the best developers with a track record of delivering the best properties.
Three, price is critical but should not be the only factor and compromising quality for a few lacs would be inadvisable.
Four, take an informed call on buying something good (ensured by a good channel partner and good developer).

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