A Fine Property is a website about Estate Agency in Scotland - the business of arranging the sale, rent or management of property/properties, and other buildings, across Scotland. A Fine Property lists Estate Agents who specialize in renting, letting or management. A Fine Property Estate Agents market property available for sale and solicitors or licensed conveyancers who can prepare legal documents.
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The term 'Estate Agent' originally referred to a person responsible for managing a landed estate, while those engaged in the buying and selling of homes were "House Agents", and those selling land were "Land Agents". However, in the 20th century, "Estate Agent" started to be used as a generic term, perhaps because it was thought to sound more impressive. The term 'Estate Agent' has roughly the same meaning as the term real estate broker in the United States.
A Fine Property Estate Agents should know their community and local factors that can increase or decrease property prices. ie if a new road or airport is to be built this can blight houses nearby. Equally, the closing of a quarry or improvement of an area can enhance prices. It is the job of the agent to value based on what has, or has not sold in comparison and to achieve the best price for their client.
The full legal term and definition of an estate agent within the UK can be found on the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) website. Enforcement of these regulations is also the responsibility of the OFT.
In the United Kingdom, residential Estate Agents are regulated by the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991, as well as, the more recently enacted Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007
Some of the Estate Agents listed on A Fine Property are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the principal body for UK property professionals, dealing with both residential, commercial and agricultural property. Members, known as “Chartered Surveyors”, are elected based on examination and are required to adhere to a code of conduct, which includes regulations about looking after their clients’ money and professional indemnity insurance in case of error or negligence.
For residential property, there is also a trade association, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and others such as INEA (INEA.co.uk The Independent Network of Estate Agents) who are there to guide members. The Ombudsman for Estate Agents Scheme, which obtained OFT approval for the Code of Practice for Residential Sales in 2005 and, as of November 2006, claims to have 2532 member agencies.
There is a legal requirement to belong to either organisation in order to trade as an Estate Agent. Agents can be fined if they are not a member of a redress scheme. The redress scheme was brought in alongside and to govern agents in reference to the HIP.
A handful of national residential Estate Agents chains exist, such as Connells, Thamesview, and Countrywide PLC, with the majority being locally or regionally specialised companies. According to Home.co.uk, the number of UK Estate Agent offices operating in the UK as of August 2007 was over 17,000. The recession has reduced offices to around 10,500-12,000
Several multi-national commercial agencies exist, typically being Anglo-American, pan-European or global. These firms all seek to provide the full range of property advisory services, not just agency.
Only a handful of large firms trade in both commercial and residential property.
The estate agents listed on A Fine Property who handle lettings of commercial property normally charge between 7–10% of the first years rent as fees, in addition to taking the first month's rent in its entirety. If two agents are charging 10%, they will split the fee between them. Estate agents selling commercial property (known as investment agents) typical charge 1% of the sale price.
The fees charged by residential Letting Agents vary, depending on whether the agent manages the property or simply arranges for new tenants. Charges to prospective tenants can vary from zero to £300 in non-refundable fees usually described as "Application", "Administration" or "Processing" fees (or all three). There are no guidelines for Letting Agents on charges, except that they are forbidden by law to charge a fee for a list of properties. Otherwise, they are free to charge as they please.
The first month's rent in advance plus a refundable bond (usually equal to one month's rent) is also generally required. Most residential lettings in the UK are governed by "Assured Shorthold Tenancy" contracts. Assured Shorthold Tenancies (generally referred to simply as "Shorthold") give less statutory protection in terms of Security of Tenure than earlier, mostly obsolete, types of residential lettings. Shorthold Tenancy Agreements are standard contracts generally available from legal stationers and the internet for around £1, although most Lettings Agent will charge £30 to provide one.
It is important that tenant referencing checks are in place prior to a tenant moving into a property. The credit check can be run using credit history data from Equifax, Experian or Call Credit (the three main UK providers) using an in-house website system or a managed referencing service. A reputable agent will also ask for an employment reference and a previous landlord reference to verify that the tenant can afford the rental on the property and that there were no serious problems with the previous agent. It is also essential that proof of ID and proof of residency are also collected and filed.
Estate agents listed on A Fine Property selling residential property generally charge between 1% to 2% of the sales price plus VAT (Value Added Tax) Additional marketing charges are also applied for advertising, in media such as newspapers and websites.
Since around 2000, Online Estate Agents have provided an alternative to the traditional fee structure, claiming cheaper, fixed fee selling packages. These online Estate Agents claim to give private property sellers the ability to market their property via the major property portals (the preferred medium used by traditional high street Estate Agents) for a fraction of the cost of the traditional estate agency. new models have been introduced such as www.RemoteAgent.co.uk which uses digital media screens in place of the agents traditional High Street window. These screens allow agents to take their listings into remote locations where an office may otherwise not be available.
New types of property portals based in the United Kingdom have started to encourage UK and worldwide estate agents to collaborate by showing all their properties, thus allowing site visitors to see a vast array of UK and overseas properties all on one website.
Many estate agents are using estate agency software to assist in the sale of houses. The latest technology enables home buyers to receive property details while outside a house, visit estate agents websites for the latest listings and display properties for sale in the local vicinity using location based applications on mobile phones. A lot of property advertising is now automated for the agents using estate agents software.
Research undertaken in 2007 said that the most effective way of selling property is via 'For Sale' signs, 28% of customers had seen the estate agent's For Sale signs before researching more in depth into the properties. Searching for houses via the internet came in a close second (21%), with newspapers third at (17%). The fourth most effective way, and the most traditional, was customers visiting an estate agent's office (15%). However now in 2010 80/90%% of properties are found via the internet and agents see less people walking into their offices. Boards are still very effective, but many agents are now cutting out paper advertising and moving just to digital such as eMags and just the web.
Other methods included auctions (11%), word of mouth (3%) and leaflets (2%).