Selling your home can be stressful – it’s something that we do so rarely in our lives but the result makes a big difference to the way we live. That means it is very important that you choose an estate agent that is going to do a great job of selling your home. You are trusting them to handle all the details of the sale, so you need to be certain they are going to do it properly.
By taking care and thinking things through you can make sure you are picking an estate agent who will get the job done quickly and professionally. So, ask yourself these eight important questions before you choose an estate agent.
Do they sell similar properties to yours?
There are many fantastic estate agents around, but you have to be sure that the one you choose specialises in selling the same kinds of property as yours. If you’re selling a city-centre studio flat there is no use in choosing an estate that mostly sells big country homes, no matter how friendly, professional and trustworthy they seem. Check their website for the kind of properties that they have on sale – if you don’t see anything similar to yours then it may be best to look elsewhere.
Do the properties they sell look good?
Browse through the properties that an estate agent has listed on their website. Ask yourself whether the houses look good. You’re not making a judgement call on other peoples’ homes – you’re seeing if the estate agent is good at presenting their properties properly. How a home comes across can make a big difference in whether people are interested in buying it or not.
Are the descriptions well written and do they make you interested in the property? Do the pictures show the property in a good light? There’s nothing worse than choosing an estate agent and then finding that your listing doesn’t show your home in the way that you would like.
Are their fees competitive?
It’s worth remembering that the fees that estate agents charge can vary significantly. Estate agents generally charge anything from 1 to 3 per cent (remember that the quoted price won’t include VAT so it may actually be slightly more than it sounds). The difference between 1 per cent and 3 per cent may not sound like much but if you’re selling your house for £350,000 those two figures would be £3,500 and £10,500 – that kind of cost can make a massive difference to the potential profit you can make on your sale.
It’s worth noting that estate agents work on commission so while you might be tempted to try to haggle them down it might actually more beneficial for them to be on the percentage they want. This is because you want your estate agent to be motivated to sell quickly and for a great price and that is more likely when they are on a decent percentage.
Are they overvaluing your property?
It can be easy to be taken in when one estate agent offers a very high valuation on your property. However, you need to remember that it is you who makes the decision for what to put your home on the market for, not the estate agent. If the agent has suggested a figure that looks too good to be true it could well be the case that they are simply going aggressively for your business.
This is one of the reasons it’s really important to get multiple valuations from different estate agents. This gives you a general idea of what your property is probably worth. You’ll then be able to tell which agents are inflating the price to try to get you on side.
Are they recommended?
As with all things in life, there’s nothing as valuable as the recommendation from someone that you trust. If you know someone who has recently sold their home you should talk to them about the estate agent that they used. They may have had a brilliant experience with someone (or a terrible experience) and this can influence your decision. It’s also likely that they went through the whole process, potentially making mistakes you can learn from and they may have some great tips about the way it works.
On a secondary level it’s worth checking through reviews online. Multiple bad reviews for an estate agent should be a red flag and it’s worth understanding exactly what people had a problem with.
Are they regulated?
You need to check the industry credentials of the estate agent you are thinking of using to make sure they have membership of the relevant bodies. There are a number of organisations which estate agents can voluntarily sign up to which means they are held to the code of practice of that association. Some of the major ones include the Guild of Professional Estate Agents, the National Association of Estate Agents and the Ombudsman for Estate Agents.
When an estate agent isn’t signed up to a good code of practice is doesn’t necessarily mean they are being devious but it may be a sign that there is something sneaky in their terms and conditions that you need to watch out for. It is always best to choose an estate agent that you know you can trust fully.
Office or online?
You now have the option between choosing a traditional estate agent – the kind you see on the high street – or an online estate agent. In the past few years the number of ways to sell your property online has exploded and there are now a huge range of online estate agents often offering much lower fees.
Online estate agents can be a tempting option especially from the perspective of saving money. However, it’s worth remembering that local estate agents do bring added value. Understanding the local area and the property market puts them in a better place to sell your home effectively. It’s also true that local estate agents usually have a broader audience because they have high street branches while also selling through the major online portals.
Do they feel like people you want to work with?
It’s important to trust your instincts. When it comes to something as big as selling a property you want to know the people you are working with understand you and are taking you seriously. Often this means you simply have a natural connection with the estate agent – they feel trustworthy and genuine. You don’t want to be working with people who you feel are trying to rip you off or make things difficult for you.
This article was written by Dakota Murphey, content writer who is passionate about property and investment. Working alongside Hunters Estate Agents, who were consulted for some of the information in this post.