Real estate brokers in Uruguay are required to get a business license and register with the country’s department of tourism. Brokers practicing in many coastal areas, with the exception of Montevideo, are also required to be bonded. However, there is no formal training or testing requirement to become a real estate agent in Uruguay. Therefore, it is up to you to determine if a real estate agent has the necessary experience and knowledge to effectively serve your objectives.
Four considerations when selecting a Uruguay real estate agent
1) Is the agent licensed?
If you find yourself with a real estate agent who is not clearly affiliated with a company, ask about his or her licensing. There are many licensed agents who work independently from a home office, but there are also unlicensed individuals who pose as real estate agents.
After a property is selected, the impostor will ask the listing office to pay him or her a commission under the table if the sale closes. The bottom line is an unlicensed person may be negotiating for their commission from a weak position at the same time they are supposed to be negotiating for the best price and terms for you.
2) Is the agent bilingual and bicultural?
There are many elements to consider when shopping for a property, not all of which can be explained in simple terms. For this reason it is critical to work with a real estate agent you can communicate with clearly. If you do not speak Spanish, use the services of a bilingual real estate agent, preferably one with related cultural experience.
Besides a language barrier, cultural expectations and business practices from one country to the next can be very different. A real estate agent who has related cultural experience can act as a bridge of understanding between parties that may have different expectations.
3) Is the agent competent?
In order to best serve and protect the buyer’s interests, an agent must have good market knowledge and a solid understanding of the transaction process.
4) Does the agent have a network of related professionals and service providers?
You will need the services of an escribano to handle the paperwork of your purchase, an architect to inspect the property, and perhaps workers the make changes or repairs. Your purchase and future ownership will go more smoothly if you select a real estate agent with a network of reputable English-speaking people in place.
Three conversations you should have before working with a real estate agent in Uruguay
Sometimes a real estate agent will represent the seller’s interests, the buyer’s interests, or both. (And some agents have no concept of fiduciary relationship and put their own interests first!) It is important that you are clear about the agent’s understanding of his or her duties and loyalties.
2) Property selection
Many real estate agents in Uruguay understand their job as selling their own company’s listings. If you want a broad selection of properties to choose from, based on your needs, not on what the agent wants to sell, it is important that an agreement of this is discussed and reached with your Uruguay real estate agent.
In Uruguay, you, as the buyer, pay your own real estate company the buyer’s side of the commission. Since you are paying the bill, don’t be shy about letting your agent know you want to see the best matches for your objectives, including listing from other companies, properties that are For-Sale-by-Owner, and new construction projects.
Note: Be aware that if you walk into a new construction showroom the first time without your own real estate agent, you may have lost the opportunity to have your agent represent you.
3) Supporting services
The real estate agent is paid a commission based on the sales price. The perceptions of a real estate agent’s duties in exchange for the sales commission vary between individual companies and agents. Ask your Uruguay real estate agent if he or she provides supporting services such as opening a bank account, monitoring the closing process, and providing referrals and advice after the sale is closed. Make sure there is a clear understanding of what is included.
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