Casually, I decided to take a leap by throwing this query “Tell me your experience with brokers when looking for a house i.e. how you were treated and how u would differentiate a good broker from a bad one.” to some of my former clients; and the results I got below were quite interesting :-

 “………one thing I didn’t like about brokers is that they are liars, for instance, he can tell you that he saw a very nice house located one mile away it’s but you move with him 3 miles and after reaching the house is in very bad shape. Then to add on that he wants money for taking u there” by Priscilla 

  • “They focus more on showing you what they have than what you need. they want u to see all houses and more so the good ones come last after u feel tired so that u can pay them believing that they looked everywhere” By Reny challenges of dealing agents kampala
  • “……. a bad broker asks for the commission from his clients before visiting the house. This happened to me, I paid him then on reaching the room was already occupied, he refused to refund my money and obviously, I had no option and let him go. As for differentiating, I think I will figure out a good broker right from the first sight, they are always self-composed, talk little but sure and give you time to decide, he will let you visit the place numerous times as long as it doesn’t involve transport fares, His job is his passion and his clients are his priority” By Sarah 
  • “You remember Lawrence the broker you told me to call, I called him and he assigned me to another one. I called him and we agreed to meet at 9 am but instead he reached at 11 am meanwhile I was calling him and he was like am almost reaching. He comes and apologizes and I tell him the kind of house I want…..the guy first took me to some unfinished house, then to another house that was fake then after we go to another one deep in the village yet I told him near the road. He took me to about 10 houses which didn’t fit in my description and at the end, he brought me to this where am staying. It was better and somehow fit in what I wanted. The conclusion is that he wasted my time yet he knew what I wanted.” By Doris 
  • “Brokers like money they keep showing you houses which are already taken and even not in your interest so that they can end late and they raise their movement fee” by Carol

Before we cast the first stone at the agents, it’s important to understand the challenges they themselves have to deal with in the business:-

  1. According to IJM&P housing price analysis in less developed countries submit controversial and not sufficient results about the impact of interest rate, inflation and unemployment. And this leaves the pricing to be determined by both the brokers and sellers through speculation. However, a few players in the market have tried to close this gap by providing market information periodically like Knight Frank
    the market is not well regulated
    The real estate market is highly unregulated

    which releases information quarterly on market analysis and Uganda Bureau of Statistics(UBOS) providing information on housing survey. We have also AREA-Uganda which was formed up to instil sanity in the property agency market especially; they do provide a lot of services from training to membership subscriptions with extended benefits.

The real estate industry is not well regulated and anyone can wake up and all of a sudden is a real estate agent without training and licensing and besides the government is not even aware of your activities.

From the reactions of the clients, it’s easy to note that many brokers take clients around houses they are not interested in and afterwards they find what they want; to me this is two way, it can either mean that brokers use it as a bait for the client to accept the best they have reserved at the end or its just a misconception of what the client wants, sometimes the client wants a particular house yet their finances can’t afford it.  To me, I attribute this to information gap between these two.

  1. Property owners list their properties with a number of brokers making it difficult for brokers to take control of properties they are marketing (this normally forces them into short terms gains and quick deals which involve exploitation of unaware clients. Landlords in most times are not interested in signing agreements before they can see any tangible deal happening on the ground in such cases, charging inspection fee is guaranteed income for many even if the client doesn’t get what he/she wants.
Seeing problems as opportunities
Brokers should turn the market challenges into opportunities

Despite such factors, there is no excuse as to why a broker should behave shrewdly, a good broker will realize such challenges and take them up as opportunities and the same can be said of the clients, it’s important for them to understand the environment they are operating in so they prepare themselves well for the field; it’s a jungle one has to enter when they are sober.

  1. Clients tend to jump from one broker to another and this is mainly because they go to look for a house without any clue of what they may find. Its because of this underlying factor that brokers charge inspection fee and that’s their security for the time and money they invested in looking for these properties, it’s pointless someone coming to view the property today and tomorrow is meeting the landlord quietly to pay or sends someone as representative and as a broker you are left out. I think it’s important for both parties to agree on inspection fee and that broker is able to show the client up to a certain number of properties say 5 to 7 properties that of course should meet the standards of the client. With those for sure, the client should be able to make a choice unless they fall below the minimum standards he/she had specified.

It’s important to not just pick a broker you find in an area, using a referral is key to success, at least 7 out of 10 of your friends have dealt with brokers before, call them and ask, even if their broker is not in that area at least he/she knows a trusted friend who is a broker they can refer you to.

  1. A good broker should be able to tell things as they appear black and white and where he/she is not sure they will tell you so. if it’s a local broker they will normally know the local amenities like schools, health centres, restaurants, etc and if it’s a broker who throws his net around a wider geographical coverage, he should tell you so in order for you to understand the kind of service you are receiving.

 

  1. You should be worried of a broker who is putting you on pressure telling you things like; it’s the only one remaining, someone is coming to pay for it or if you don’t pay today it’s taken or its just near here when actually it’s far. Such statements thrown around should ring a bell.

 

  1. And lastly, Its necessary for a client to do mini- survey and decide which areas he or she wants to rent in as discussed in 7 points to note when searching for a house in and around Kampala if you are better prepared, you will overcome most of the challenges along the way.

 

∼Anguzu Derrick