Qualifying Your Letting Agent
With such a wealth of choice available throughout Malta and Gozo regarding Estate Agencies, and the hundreds of agents operating within each agency, it can be a dizzying task to select an estate agent who you feel is best qualified to help you find your new home.
So here are some tips on choosing the right letting agent, so you can make certain they know what they are doing and can reassure yourself that your property search is in safe, capable hands.
Excellent estate agents worldwide understand that a good reputation is more valuable than money, as the old adage states. This is particularly true of Malta, where, as one of the smallest European countries, word tends to travel especially fast regarding a good – or bad – estate agent, especially amongst the expat communities.
Before you commit to a particular agency or agent, make sure to ask around and research any online reviews or comments, both from a Landlord’s and a Tenant’s perspective, to ascertain if their reputation is a consistently positive one.
Alongside a good reputation, the simplest way to select an experienced, knowledgeable estate agent is to find one with all the appropriate qualifications and memberships. Being part of a professional association such as the Federation of Estate Agents confirms that they are officially approved, they must adhere to a specific Code of Practice, and it is likely they have professional indemnity insurance. Meanwhile, an up-to-date website, training of their agents and experience proves that they should have working knowledge of tenancy law, updated best practice, understand maintenance procedures, and are fully committed to their work long-term as your agent.
A good letting agent will be able to guide you as to the right people to speak to in a variety of situations. Not only will they have access to an excellent database of properties for you to choose from, but they will also be able to help you get advice on things like setting up your internet or selecting a school for your children. Make sure your agent has good contacts and is knowledgeable in a variety of topics about Malta before you choose to work with them.
Although some letting agents will charge higher fees than others, or may have differing fee structures, professional estate agents are obliged to make their fee structure fully transparent and understood by all involved parties before any agreements are signed.
This means that a good letting agent will make certain you are aware of all the terms and conditions pertaining to their fees, including standard charges, when fees should be paid, when extra fees may be applicable and when benefits or discounts may be available.
Out-of-hours and Emergency Service
It is worth checking what each of your shortlisted estate agents define as an emergency, and what their policy is regarding how such emergencies are dealt with. Ideally, the agency will offer an out-of-hours service that is contactable via telephone, which will send appropriate and accredited maintenance staff to your property as soon as possible to resolve the problem, regardless of the day, or the hour. Many agents in Malta do not offer this service so make sure you know that your agency isn't there just to make a few bucks. It's important that your letting agent backs you through thick and thin and that you will find them when you need them.
For more interesting articles about the market, guidelines and tips go to our Letting Knowledge Base