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Property Advice March 14, 2016
     

How to Choose an Estate Agent

Your home is probably your most valuable asset so, when it’s time to sell, it’s vital the estate agent you choose is worthy of your trust. With so many estate agents out there, you’d think choosing would be easy, but in reality that’s often not the case.

When you’re right at the beginning of the house sales process, it helps if you know the right questions to ask and what to look for in an estate agent.

Initial Choices

Do a little groundwork to help in making a short list of possibilities.

  • Decide between local or national. For most sellers, a local estate agent is the best choice. Those with branches in other locations but who specialise in marketing locally give you the best of both worlds.
  • Pretend to be a buyer and visit several estate agents. Do you like the way you’re greeted? Are the staff knowledgeable on every property you ask about, or can they quickly put their finger on the information you need? Are they friendly and enthusiastic? Professional? Are they proactive in discussing new properties coming to market and getting you registered? You should answer a resounding yes to all the questions.
  • Look at agent’s websites to see how they market existing properties. Are the pictures well taken? Are the written descriptions clear? Do they tempt you to enquire further or book viewings?
  • Ask if viewings are accompanied, whether you want them to be or not. Most sellers welcome professionally conducted viewings, but some prefer to show buyers around on their own.
  • Find out what similar properties they’ve sold recently, and how long they took to sell.
  • Consider their opening hours, when they are available to conduct viewings, their high street presence and what kind of marketing your property will receive.

After this initial research, narrow your selection down to three estate agents and invite them round to give a valuation. You can research property prices yourself by searching online for recently sold properties in your area. This will give you a ballpark figure. Don’t automatically go for the highest valuation as some estate agents will try to win business by valuing high, hoping to persuade you to reduce the price later on.

Ask about Marketing

It’s vital your estate agent is proactive in marketing your property. Find out where they advertise online (such as Right Move, Primelocation, and Zoopla).

An interesting development in online house marketing in 2015 was the introduction of a new property portal, OnTheMarket. If your chosen estate agent is a member of this organisation, be aware that one of the conditions for OnTheMarket members is that they can only list properties on one other leading online portal. This could limit your exposure to potential buyers, but might also have advantages.

Other advertising options include property guides, their own property newsletters and their window. It would also be a good idea to find out how long your home will feature in their window. Ask if they will produce a virtual tour of your property as well as floor plans, and find out how many photographs they will feature.

Get an Idea of Their Fees

Make sure the fees charged to cover all the marketing materials, such as for sale boards and the production of brochures. Some agents will tie you in with upfront cost or extra cost for colour floor plans and additional products on websites like rightmove and zoopla.

Check on the terms of the agreement, such as whether they insist on sole selling rights. Try to have a time limit on any exclusive agreement, so that if no sale is achieved within a given timeframe you are free to switch agents without a penalty. Remember that any fees you are quoted may exclude VAT, which currently stands at 20%.

As a final consideration, make sure your chosen estate agent is one you get along with. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them and investing a lot of trust. Some estate agents also offer independent mortgage or remortgage advice, and advice on building or buy to let, and if this would be valuable to you, factor it into your final choice.

At Enfield’s, we are proud to tick all the boxes and will often answer your questions before you’ve even thought of them. If you are thinking of selling your property, do give us a call. We welcome your enquiries and look forward to helping you towards a rapid and stress free house move.

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