When using an Estate Agent to sell your property, it is important to choose the right agent for you and the type of property you are selling. Here we outline some simple top tips on what to look out for when choosing an Estate Agent. |
Check out Local Agents
Agents near to the property you are selling will have more experience of your local area and the type of property you are selling. Check how many properties they are selling in your area.
A measure of the agents success rate will be the number of their 'For Sale' boards displaying in the area that have 'sold' written on them whilst an indication of their suitability to the type of property you are selling can be found by checking the Local Papers and see how many similar properties that particular agent is selling.
Which Estate Agents do people you know use?
As with a lot of services, personal recommendation goes along way.
Ask someone who has recently sold a property which agents they sold it through and get an idea of the level and quality of service they were given. Ask how long it took for their property to sell.
Don't be taken in by the one who gives the Highest Valuation
Anyone can provide you with a high figure at which to sell your property. This is a common ruse used by agents to secure a seller's business. After a short while, they report to you that due to the fall in the market (or some other excuse) you will have to drop the selling price - although by that time you are already tied into a contract with them.
Get several different agents to value your property; and although they are all likely to vary slightly - beware of the unusually high valuation.
When given a valuation ask for examples of properties of your property's type and location that have sold recently at that price. You can also check this from various house price websites that are on the internet which provide details of properties selling in a particular area.
Negotiating the Right Fee
Negotiating a lower fee does not always pay. A lower commission reduces the agent's incentive to sell your property and properties attracting higher commissions may take precedence. Try and provide an incentive by negotiating a sliding scale of fees with them. If the property sells for the full asking price, they will get the commission based on the highest percentage of the selling price, the percentage should then reduce according to the selling price achieved.
Getting the Right Terms in the Estate Agents Contract
Read the terms of the contract carefully and be sure that you know what type of estate agency contract you are signing. See our article on the different types of estate agency contracts on this website.
Choosing the wrong type of estate agency contract may mean that you are limited as to how you can sell the property and may mean that you are stuck with an underperforming agent or may have to pay more than one agent; in some circumstances the wrong estate agency contract may mean that you have to pay commission and costs without selling the property!
The terms of the estate agency contract need not be set in stone and one-sided - negotiate terms to your advantage, for example, the time period, the agent may want to tie you into a contract of 2 or 3 months - when ideally you need to be able review your relationship with them on a monthly or weekly basis.
Consider Using Multiple Agents -
The advantage of using more than one estate agent is that you will be able to reach a wider audience and attract more buyers for your property. If you do decide to use more than one agent, check each contract carefully - check that it is not a sole-agency contract as this will mean that even if you sell your property with another estate agent, you will still have to pay the non-selling agent their commission in addition to the commission payable to the agent who did sell the property. Be aware that multi-agency contracts attract a higher commission.
The Secret Shopper Approach
Pose as a buyer - Visit the estate agent in the guise of a buyer. You will be able to check whether they are busy and assess the level of service any potential buyer of your property is likely to receive and the type of properties suggested to them.
Check out the Complaints and Redress Schemes
How do they handle complaints? From October 2008, all agents have been required to register with an Estate Agents Redress Scheme which has been approved by the Office of Fair Trading ('OFT'). There are two main redress schemes - The Property Ombudsman and The Surveyors Ombudsman Scheme.
Many agents are members of professional associations such as the National Association of Estate Agents, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Guild of Professional Estate Agents. Membership of a professional association means those agents abide by a code of practice and will be subject to sanctions from their governing bodies. If the estate agent is a member of a Professional Association, you can pursue your complaint through the internal processes of the association.
Gut Feeling -
Ask yourself 'Do I trust this estate agent to sell my property?' and if the answer is no - walk away.
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