Searching for the perfect home is time consuming and costly. So many people are just far too busy to spare the time for house searching and so it's a good business to set up.
All you need is an office, telephone, a computer and to be linked to the Internet. Decide on a business name, which may depend on whether you decide to set up a nationwide home search or an area (e.g. Sussex) home search. Check the classifieds in magazines like Country Life, Home and Gardens for businesses already in existence so that you don't repeat an area already well covered by other search companies.
After placing some adverts, design forms asking for each client's requirements. You'll need to know:
Name and Address details plus contact numbers.
Location required: rural, semi-rural or town or specific place.
Number of rooms required.
Is a garage important?
Any special requirements, e.g. conservatory.
Prefer old or new houses?
Terrace, Semi-detached or detached?
Flat, apartment, bungalow or house?
Do you want to rent or buy?
With a good laser printer you can print your own professional looking forms and post them out when new clients contact you.
Searching for Properties
Your research places are: magazines, the Internet, building societies.
To find out what a house search agent should charge, a little research will reveal what other search companies charge.
Overseas Home Search Service
Many people retire to warmer climes but often want their property all sorted out before they actually retire. If you have a language then this is an added advantage in the service you can offer to people wanting to purchase in a foreign country - even a predominantly English speaking country. A person who can speak Spanish, for instance, will know if the price quoted for a property is in line with the country's house prices. It can be easier to study a country's economic situation if you speak the language. However, it's not vital.
A service for Home Search in another country can extend into other services. For instance, the legal issues of house-buying alter between countries. You can make sure your clients don't get caught out. In Spain, if you buy a house from people who have debts on the house, you become legally bound to pay their debts. In other countries houses have been built without planning permission.
In Turkey, you have to pay 30,000 (which you can use for buying a house) into a bank account before you are eligible to buy a property in the country.
So, whichever country you decide to home search, you need to study the quirks of the house buying system and find a good lawyer in that country for your clients.
Once a property has been found and purchased, there are other services which some overseas clients of house search agent would appreciate. They are:
Sorting out repairs or building work (their fee depending on how much time you have to spend booking and chasing up builders)
Interior Design (can even include all linen and kitchen utensils)
Sorting out the garden
Of course, all of these extra services can apply to properties found at home as much as abroad.
Business Property Searchers
When businesses and companies, large or small want to move to a different area they don't always wish to use a managerial staff member to search for new offices, factories or shop premises.
Some clients who want to purchase (as opposed to renting or leasing) may even be happy for the house search agent to attend property sales on their behalf - especially if they want to keep the potential office move secret from their competitors or shareholders.
This is how it works: once the bidding starts on a property they're interested in, you bid, keeping in contact with your client by mobile. You simply tell them the price the bid stands at and they direct your next bid.
The approach for obtaining business clients is a blend of visiting companies and advertising in business magazines. You could also send a pamphlet of your services to all the Business Development and Business Support agencies in the areas your business covers (banks also support these local enterprise agencies). Contacting your local Borough Council should reveal a source of the business agencies.