How to choose a good estate agent
Your property will probably be your most valuable asset. So choosing a good estate agent, who can help you maximize the value of your investment and minimize any stress, must be your first consideration. A good estate agent has to be a master of many talents: a salesman and marketer; a top negotiator and administrator; and let’s not forget a diplomat and counselor for those last minute hiccups. To help you distinguish the wheat from the chaff, here is step by step guide of how to find a top notch estate agent for your property:
Make a short list
Look for three or four estate agents who have a good track record of selling similar properties in the same area as your property. Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but it’s really important to get this right. An estate agent in Hampstead for example would usually be sought out by buyers in North London. So, if you have a property to sell in Chelsea, instruct an estate agent who covers the same area. Likewise, if you are selling a country property, don’t put it on the market with an estate agent who specializes in trendy urban flats. You are employing an estate agent so that you have instant access to their existing bank of customers. But you can only take full advantage of this, if the agent’s customers are also the type that would be interested in buying your property.
Decide on sale price
Contact three or four estate agents and ask them to give you a free valuation. Property prices fluctuate and there is no scientific formula to work out the value of a property. A good estate agent, who is constantly selling similar properties in the area, should have the expertise to give you a fairly accurate value of your property. But “Don’t be fooled by the valuations they give”, warns the Home Owners Alliance. “Agents know that one of the main reasons people pick them is the valuation they give. They take two general approaches: Some agents give deliberately optimistic valuations, to make you think you can get a higher price with them,and then try and talk you down after you have chosen them. Other agents “insist they are giving a realistic price, and tell you not to be fooled by falsely high valuations.” (see http://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-selling/how-should-i-choose-an-estate-agent/).In fact, going with the highest valuation could cost you dearly the long run. According to the Buy Association “your best time for selling is when your property is newly on the market. If it is overpriced, you risk it lingering unsold, which reduces its impact. If you then lower the price, potential buyers may think there’s a problem and be put off even coming to view it.”
So what are you to do?
Cutton Clox solicitors recommend that you ask your “estate agent to value your house on a “priced to sell” basis” as well as “expect to achieve” price. “Remember, your Estate Agent wants to create a buzz for your property, so attracting more than one interested buyer can lead to a small scale (or large) bidding war.”
At the end of the day it is, of course, your property and you can call the shots. This might be a good time for you to think about what your requirements are. Are you after a quick sale or do you need to achieve the highest sale price?
By now you will probably be trying to decide which estate agent to instruct. Don’t rush into this. It is an important decision. So take your time and consider the following points before signing on the dotted line:
How approachable and professional is the agent?
Send them an e-mail or phone them up. Do you get a quick reply? Would you want to deal with this agent, if you were a buyer? Are they enthusiastic and friendly? What about the marketing and advertising of the property? Take a close look at their property brochures and compare them to those of other agents. How have the properties been presented? Do you feel that this agent is able to present your property to a high quality? Also, find out how the agent will advertise your property.
Is the agent a member of a trade association?Are they a member of an accredited body such as the National Association of Estate Agents(NAEA). Members of such an organisation have to sign up voluntarily to a code of practice and are bound by strict rules. If you are unhappy about your estate agent’s services the NAEA will protect your interests and take disciplinary action against the estate agent on your behalf.
What about the viewings?
Ask the estate agent who will look after the viewings? Will the same estate agent be around for all the viewings?
Now it is time to decide on the type of contract you want to enter with your estate agent. You need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of a sole and multi agency agreement. Also, do not sign on the dotted line until you have read all the small print. How much will the agent charge? What do you get in return for this? When is the fee due?
In the May Newsletter I will write about what to look out for in an estate agent’s contract.