Selling a property is something most of us do only a handful of times, so choosing an estate agent can seem confusing and daunting. Here’s what you need to do and to consider when you make this very important choice.
Make a shortlist
Select five or six agencies you’d like to work with – ask your friends and neighbours for recommendations and take note of “for sale” boards in your area. If one or two agencies seem to get fast results, then they’re worth a closer look.
Whether you live in a city or in a rural region, make sure you choose an agency that knows your area well. East London estate agents, for example, will be used to a fast-paced market, whereas a more rural agency will probably have a different way of working. Wherever you are, your agent must be a member of an ombudsman scheme and of an industry body like the National Association of Estate Agents or the Royal institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Examine your Shortlist
Head to your shortlisted agents’ websites – look at specialisms, company history, staff members and reviews. Look at the properties they have on sale and assess how good the photos and floorplans are, how long properties are on the market, how fair the prices seem and so on. Make sure that the agents are also on at least one national property portal – dismiss any that aren’t. Choose your top two or three and then contact them for a valuation.
Go and Visit the Offices in Person
You can do this either after or before your valuation, but a personal visit gives you a good idea of who you’re dealing with. You should feel welcome there, whether you’re selling a multi-million mews house or a bijou studio flat. If you feel dismissed or uncomfortable, it’s not a good sign.
Evaluate your valuation
Note how punctual, friendly, thorough and professional your agent is when they arrive. They should give you a definite figure as well as a range of values. If your two or three choices come up with similar numbers, they’re probably right, but you might find one is way above or below the others. Ask why this is, because this agency might know something the others don’t yet.
Be Honest with your Agents
Your ideal agent will want to know more about you. Are you moving for a job? Up-sizing because a baby’s on the way? If your agent knows what your motives are, then they can tailor their service to your needs.
Interview your Agent
Does your agent have a waiting list of buyers? How well do they know the area? How many viewings can you expect per week? How often will they keep in touch and do they offer viewer feedback? Do they keep you in the loop once a buyer comes along?
Ask about Fees
You’ll pay a fee, usually in the form of commission on the selling price. Ask if there’s hidden extras, or optional add-ons to their services. You should get a comprehensive fee breakdown before you sign anything.
Also, don’t just go for the cheapest agent – this doesn’t always work out for the best.
Choose your Agent
Make this important decision on the basis of facts, figures and feelings. It’s no good selecting an agent if they offer a good service for a good price but you just don’t get along. You’re working as a team on a big project, so hire the right guys!