The overwhelming majority advised taking great care over which estate agent to trust. This sentiment was echoed in a recent interview with Marc Neuen, co-founder of Homexperts Luxembourg, who reported that it was precisely because of unacceptable practices from certain estate agents that he set up his latest venture with partner Laurent Rouach.
“It was specifically because of some estate agents’ reputations that we set up Homexperts. We wanted to find an innovative solution to what had become a very real problem on Luxembourg’s property market. Namely, too many estate agents for a small number of transactions.”
He explained that too many agencies competing for the same mandates to sell the same properties on a small market has led to, “unethical practices.” Part of the problem, in his view, is that it is remarkably easy to become an estate agent in Luxembourg.
“You just need to take a three-month course at the Chamber of Commerce and pass an exam, and to be very honest, this exam is not difficult. Then you can set yourself up without any prior experience.”
According to Neuen, this lack of experience, coupled with the fact that there are too many agents on the market, has resulted in some employing “dirty tricks.”
“For example,” he said this week, “an agent might deliberately overvalue a property in order to win the mandate. This inevitably wastes time and damages the credibility of the property for sale, which ends up sitting on the market for months without a buyer.”
Neuen believes that an experienced agent, who knows the market, would not play this game. “The seller would have been given a much more realistic value in the first place, thereby increasing the chances of a sale over a shorter term.”
This problem cuts two ways, it wastes sellers’ time and money and gives newcomers to the market a distorted image of prices in Luxembourg, meaning that a first-time buyer runs the risk of paying much more than the true market value for a property.
To avoid this, Neuen recommend that newcomers get on the mailing lists of reputable estate agents. To help in finding such estate agents, Homexperts has developed a Broker Certificate in an attempt to identify which can be fully trusted.
“We developed an objective system whereby agencies can apply for our Certified Broker certification by passing an in-depth audit by questionnaire.”
In this way, Homexperts does the due diligence on behalf of the new buyer who can then be confident in the chosen estate agent.
Neuen also recommends the site houser.lu, a site that provides the buyer, not only with listings and prices, but additional information, such as how long the property has been for sale and if its price has changed at all.
“This allows people to see the bigger picture.”