Once you reach that all-important decision to sell your home, choosing the most suitable estate agent can be a daunting and difficult task. You are making a huge financial decision so you will want to pick an estate agent who will do the best for your property, and who has your best interests at heart. Sounds easy? From my experience, my clients have told me that this can be one of the most difficult tasks in the selling process. |
People choose an estate agent based on different reasons but it is essential to keep in mind that your decision should not be solely based on the cheapest agency fees. There are numerous other factors that should be considered before making your final choice. Here are my top 10 tips to consider:
1. Get a recommendation
This may sound obvious however many people chose an estate agent which they drive past on their way to work which they have no prior knowledge of. If possible, get recommendations from family members, friends or colleagues who have used an estate agent in your area.
2. Shop around and consider multiple agents
Friendly competition amongst estate agents is common and there is nothing wrong with that. It is important to shop around so you can get an idea of the different fees each agent charges, their experience and their property expertise.
3. Enquire about their experiences
Always check how much experience the estate agent has and their local knowledge of your area. Ask questions like 'Have you sold properties in this area before?' 'How successful have you been?' 'How many viewings do you get on a property similar to ours?' 'What are your experiences / history of selling properties similar to ours?'
Asking these questions really does make a difference and could influence your final decision on choosing the right agent for your needs. It is also important to note that getting a good customer service and building a good rapport with your agent can have its benefits.
4. Find out how they plan to advertise your property
Don't be afraid to ask an estate agent how they plan to market your property and through which methods. Which property portals do they use to advertise on? How strong is their internet presence? Do they advertise on major sites such as rightmove.co.uk or findaproperty.com? You can find out whether there will be a floor plan of your property, images or 360 degrees virtual videos.
Be sure to ask the estate agent whether they will be conducting the viewings on your property or whether you will be doing them. If you are conducting the viewings yourself, find out how much notice the agent will give you. Do let the estate agent know if you have other commitments that would prevent you from doing viewings during certain times / days.
Everyone can negotiate fees. Getting quotes from a few different estate agents will give you the opportunity to negotiate fees to a lower fee charge. Having said this, it is important that you do not negotiate for a very low fee. This can cause lack of motivation to the agent selling your property as they are losing commission.
6. Be cautious of valuations
It is a good idea to get a few estate agents to value your property. Websites such as zoopla.co.uk and nethouseprices.com can you give you a rough idea as to what your property is worth. Check these sites before having your property valued, so you can determine whether the estate agent has valued your property at a fair price.
Unfortunately some agents may overvalue your home to gain higher commission. Initially, this could look like a wealthy prospect as you will receive more money from the sale but, it could put off potential buyers. This may lead to you having to dramatically drop the asking price at a later date. On the other hand, your property could be undervalued in a bid to make a fast sale.
7. Are they regulated
Check whether the estate agents you are looking into are members of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). This regulatory body requires members to strictly adhere to a code of practice. If they do not meet these requirements, the estate agent can receive a huge fine or in worst cases, be expelled from the NAEA.
You should also check that estate agents have a manager who is qualified through the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). ARLA agents volunteer to follow the Code of Practice and Rules of Conduct laid down by their professional body. The agency is also covered by ARLA's Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme, if you suffer financial loss due to the bankruptcy or dishonesty of the ARLA member and/or their firm.
Find out whether the estate agencies you are looking at are members of The Property Ombudsman. They would follow the code of practice for both residential sales and lettings which have been approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
8. Read terms and conditions, check small print
Always read the terms and conditions of a contract, and check all small print before you make the decision to sign on the dotted line. If necessary, you can get a solicitor to read over it.
You will be tied into a contract with an estate agent for a number of weeks so you should check how many weeks it is. This is vital as you will not be able to market your property with another agent until your contract has come to its end. Some contracts can tie you in for longer periods of time. If you become dissatisfied with an agent or have problems, you would be stuck with them.
When reading through the contract, look out for certain words and make sure you fully understand what they mean and you are happy with them. Don't be afraid to ask your agent to elaborate on its meaning. Such words include 'sole agency' and 'sole seller'.
Sole agency means that you have instructed one estate agent to market your property. If you then asked another agent to market your property, you would be breaking your contract which could have consequences. Sole seller refers to an agent being entitled to commission even if you sell your property privately. Only you can decide whether this would pose a problem for you or not depending on your requirements.
Your estate agent may suggest other services you will need from selling your house. They could recommend a solicitor, mortgage broker or surveyor. If you do accept their offer, the agent will receive a commission. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It's most likely that the agent uses these particular people regularly and understands the work and service they provide. Great if this meets your needs, but you have the option to shop around for better deals.
10. Beware of jargon
Estate agent jargon? Really? It may sound ridiculous and you may not even spot it, but some agents will feed you with such jargon to entice you. This could include lines such as 'I sold a similar property on your road for £300,000 a couple of months ago' or, 'I sold another flat in your block last month for £175,000' which you know is incredibly high. Doing some research of your own on nethouseprices.com will allow you to confirm any prices.
To summarise, consider whether you believe that the estate agency will do a good job of marketing your property agency. Do they come across as trustworthy, have your best interests at heart, and do you believe what they are telling you.
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