How to Find the Right Estate Agent
Buying and selling houses can be a stressful experience. Make sure the process is as smooth as possible and choose a good agent from the outset. Do your research Ask colleagues, neighbours and fr...
Buying and selling houses can be a stressful experience. Make sure the process is as smooth as possible and choose a good agent from the outset.
Do your research
Ask colleagues, neighbours and friends for recommendations, contact local agents to see what staff sound like when they answer the phone, enquire about properties for sale and send them an email to see how long it takes them to get back to you. A quick search on the Internet will also help you find agents who may have recently won awards or plaudits for their work. Go incognito and visit a few agents to see what the atmosphere is like in the office – is it a busy working environment or can you hear a pin drop? Are they professional or do they seem like amateurs? If it’s the latter, steer clear.
Choose an agent that fits your home
If the agent you choose usually sells the type of house you want to sell, they will know exactly how to market it and will get it seen by all the right people. If you’re buying a house, look for agents that specialise in the type of property you’re looking for and who have good local insider knowledge. Forming a good relationship with an agent can be the difference between getting first dibs on an exciting renovation project and missing out to someone else.
Check estate agents websites to make sure they are up-to-date with good quality images of properties and well-written, informative copy. How do they market themselves in your area? If they are good marketeers this bodes well for your buying/selling experience.
Write a shortlist
Choose three agents and ask them to value your property. Also ask how they will market your property, what their viewing policy is like (do they accompany prospective buyers?) and how many similar properties they have sold over the past couple of months. Once you have this information you will be better placed to be able to make an informed choice on what agent to use.
Haggle on fees
Estate agents fees vary greatly – from 1% to 2.5% plus VAT – but you should always try to haggle on agents fees. Some sellers offer estate agents incentives to sell their house quickly, which can be a good option. You could also stipulate that a get-out clause is added to your sale agreement – if the house doesn’t sell within an agreed time limit, you can take the house off the market and sell it through a different agent.
Remember, it’s your house
You’re paying a hefty fee for the agent to sell your house. Ultimately, they are working for you – if you’re not happy with how the sale is going, talk to them honestly and find out what the problem is. Is the price too high? Are the living areas too small? What steps are they taking to get people into the property and increase interest? From a buyer’s point of view, don’t be backed into a corner. If you’re having doubts about buying the property, go with your gut instinct, it’s usually right.
Check agents’ credentials
Most estate agents worth their weight in gold will be members of trade bodies and associations, meaning they have to comply with certain rules and codes of conduct. Ones to look out for are The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), The Property Ombudsman, The National Federation of Property Professionals (NFOPP) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).