How to chose the right estate agent

The vast majority of homeowners in the UK who are intending to sell their property on the open market choose to employ the services of an estate agent to handle the marketing and sale of their home. While estate agencies are abundant in many towns, with several from which to choose even in smaller localities, the nature of marketing properties for sale has changed considerably in recent years. Due to the power of the internet, most house hunting now begins online at popular property portals, while the more traditional methods of finding a home, such as scouting for ‘For Sale’ boards, have fallen by the wayside.

Choosing which estate agent will represent you and give your home the best chance of achieving a quick sale is an inexact science, but the decision can determine how quickly you receive an offer as well as whether it will be at the price you are hoping for.

Draw up a short-list

Personal recommendation is a valuable starting point, so ask family, friends and work colleagues to find out which estate agents offered them a particularly good service. If possible, try to focus on the agents who are local to you, rather than considering one in a neighbouring town, as their knowledge of the property market will help them to target the buyers on their books as soon as your home is available for sale.

Ensure that the estate agents you are considering have experience of marketing your type of home. If your home is exclusive in design or has a particularly high value, you may prefer to work with an agent who deals with these types of properties on a regular basis.

Visit your short-listed agents in person, posing as a buyer. Note the level of interest from the staff and whether they have a good knowledge of the properties they are currently marketing. When looking at the sales flyers, pay particular attention to the photographs and consider whether these look professional and enticing to a potential buyer.

Arranging a valuation

Inviting three different agents to visit your home and carry out a valuation is essential before you select the one that will market your property. It is your opportunity to ask questions about how the property will be advertised, whether the property will appear on the internet property portals and what action they will take if, after a period of time, your home remains unsold.

Be cautious of the valuation that is suggested. Some agents may suggest a surprisingly high valuation in order to tempt you to advertise with them, even if the price is totally unrealistic. Equally, however, it is not unknown for agents to make a lower valuation in order to stimulate a quick sale. By arranging three different valuations, you will be able to make a judgement call far more easily.

Finally, don’t forget to ask about the fee for a successful sale. Estate agents’ fees range from 1% to 3.5% of the final sale price across the country, so be very clear about what exactly you will be paying for. Remember that cheaper isn’t necessarily worse any more than the highest fees guarantee a quick sale! Be prepared to challenge the agent on the fee and, if possible, negotiate a lower rate if an offer isn’t made on your property in a given timescale.

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