Saturday 7 December 2019

The right moves: Agents need to be improved

Paul McNeive will bring the news from Titanic quarter next week.
Paul McNeive will bring the news from Titanic quarter next week.

Paul McNeive

My efforts to purchase an investment property have finally proved successful and I went for a prime property in an improving location, rather than a high initial yield, with an eye on maximising the benefits of the CGT break.

That process saw me having a lot of contact with agents over the last couple of months and inevitably some impressed me more than others.

Generally speaking the service provided by the investment agents is very good, particularly as many are swamped with instructions.

As I went through the process of enquiring about properties and viewing several, it occurred to me that the most important thing an agent must do is to respond to queries on the same day as they are made.

As a prospective purchaser in a fast moving market, and with most properties going to a "best bids" process, it's frustrating to make an offer or to raise a query and not to have your call or e-mail replied to for a couple of days.

When that happens, a purchaser can easily imagine that they are being excluded from a deal when the simple reason is that the agent has more verbal offers and e-mails than they can handle that day, and communication with their clients takes priority.

That said, I'm sure that vendors expect their agents to be available to deal with enquirers on a "same day" basis. As the process continued I found my confidence growing in those agents who were most responsive and who knew the detail of the property they were selling. However in one case an agent insisted that the tenancies were "full repairing" which never looked likely to me. On reading the leases they were "internal repairing" only. It's boring reading leases but it's a basic part of an investment sale.

I've been impressed with the number of agents still coming back to me, usually to tell me that a property I enquired about is going to "best bids" or sometimes offering an alternative property. Every purchaser is a future vendor and one can't help but be impressed most by those agents that maintain regular contact. From my experience, the most important qualities for an investment agent are responsiveness, friendliness and attention to detail.

I had a tough drive to Cork last Thursday in storm conditions to speak at a conference at the impressive Castlemartyr Resort.

Driving south on the M7, approaching the M9 junction, there were roadworks signs every 200 metres, warning that the outside lane was closed.

There was a dramatic kaleidoscope of brake lights through the rain and fog as traffic merged at speed into the inside lane. A kilometre later we realised we had been fooled as there were no roadworks and the outside lane wasn't closed.

On Saturday last I travelled that road again, en route to Kilkenny.

To my amazement the signs were still there, still announcing the fictitious lane closure.

They are probably still there now. One wonders how many road deaths are caused by the standard of road signage that we have come to accept from local authorities.

In Cork I chatted with Peter O'Flynn of DTZ and he told me that Cork agents are extremely busy closing a slew of investment deals.

Vendors and banks have put a lot of properties on the market to take advantage of the weight of investors money seeking to avail of the CGT break before year end.

There is huge demand for "clean" investment properties but properties with a problem remain difficult to sell.

There is strong local and overseas demand for both commercial and residential development land and Peter O'Flynn is of the view that there is no need for NAMA to continue developing standard residential sites at this stage.

One of the most active developers is the JCD Group which is building a 17,500 sq.m. office building at "One Albert Quay." Tyco have taken a pre-letting of around 7,500 sq.m. and PWC have pre-let approximately 1,500 sqm.

Starbucks are taking a 350 sq m unit. DTZ and Savills are the joint agents and headline rents are in the region of €250 per sq m.

The JCD Group has also recently bought a site at Mahon with planning permission for 30,000 sq m of offices and plan to go on site next year.

This afternoon I am speaking at a conference for property professionals at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast.

I will bring you the news from there next week.

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