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gents exist to sell property for a client – whether a private vendor or a developer - and in return, they receive a commission. That commission will vary, depending on the country and whether the property is resale or new-build.

In the UK, estate agents perform a relatively straightforward hand-holding role, but when you’re buying abroad they need to play a far more signifi cant role that encompasses tour guide, chauffeur, translator and general advisor. Resales usually involve far more work for the agent.

The commissions that agents abroad command are also higher. In Spain, for example, the average commission is 5 per cent, in Italy it can be 10 per cent.

So when choosing an agent you are going to need to know exactly what they are going to do for you – a good one should indicate what their role is and where their obligations stop. The agent is acting for the vendor even though

they are working closely with you, the purchaser. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because an agent is receiving a commission, it is their responsibility if a problem arises with the property. Your contract to buy is with the vendor, in many cases a developer, with the agent acting as middleman. A good agent will help you with issues and will attempt to resolve any problems for you, but they are there to facilitate the purchase. A good agent should have carried out their own due diligence before agreeing to sell a particular property so they are comfortable the buyer is getting what they see.


For many people, house-hunting abroad now starts online. It’s a great way to compare what’s available from the comfort of your home. Such portals are advertising windows for agents, giving them access to a far larger number of potential buyers.

Agents will normally

pay to advertise on the site and will still get their commission from selling the property that way. It’s simply another route to reach buyers but operates in the same way as a newspaper or magazine advert, or stand at a property exhibition – it is you, the buyer, being introduced to a property or region via an agent.

Use property portals

and other online resources to compare prices, learn about areas, and to help fi nd the most relevant agents for you in your chosen area(s) – prior to fi rst- hand research yourself.


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