Hunting for House Help: Top Things to Avoid When Looking for an Estate Agent

The following is a guest post by Andrew Alexander. Enjoy! 

Even though you’re making the decision to sell your home, it’s going to be your estate agent who sells it for you. So, making sure you get the right estate agent is imperative when selling your property because this could mean the difference between not selling your home at all and getting a really good price.

The first thing to remember is that the estate agent is working for you and you’ll get the final say as to whether you sell your property for a certain price. The estate agent needs people like you to make a commission, so bear this in mind if you’re negotiating fees or being pressured into accepting a price that you’re not happy with.

How to Create a Shortlist of Agents

Before you start getting quotations and valuations from estate agents, it’s a good idea to create a shortlist based on a number of things. Some of the most beneficial recommendations you will receive are from your family and friends so find out who they used and whether they were happy with the service they received.

You should also try to build up some facts on various estate agents and your property. Look around to see how quickly a certain estate agent sells properties, how close to the asking price they get and what their success rate is. Furthermore, look for specialist agents if you’re selling a property that is unique or unusual, as their expertise will come in handy when marketing your home. You can check out the current properties an agent has to see whether they’re selling houses that are similar to yours (view it at Bridgfords, for example). If they aren’t, they might not be the best choice for you.

What Marketing Does the Estate Agent Use?

You’re also going to need to find out what marketing the estate agent does on the properties they have on their books. And one of the main things to look at is what portals they’re using to advertise properties on, e.g. Zoopla, Rightmove and Primelocation. If their website isn’t the best, don’t worry about this too much, so long as they’re using some of these other popular avenues.

You should also check that the fee they’re offering you at the start includes this form of marketing and the property details that they’ll put together for you. If you can find an agent that includes all of this within their price, then it will be more straightforward for you. However, you may find that some require an upfront fee to produce brochures and that there may be other fees involved with advertising.

Online-only estate agents are another kettle of fish as some of these won’t advertise on popular property portals and can be limited in what they offer you. For example, they may offer you a flat-rate fee which is considerably lower than other estate agents but you may have to do all of the viewings, marketing etc. yourself, so always look into the finer details before deciding to go ahead with an online agent.

Check Out Their Fees and Their Valuations

The pricing offered by estate agents to sell your home will normally vary from around 1% to 2.5% + VAT (make sure you know if they’re including VAT in their prices). Based on a £300,000 home, you could be paying between £3,600 and £9,000 for the estate agent fees. That’s why it’s worth trying to get the estate agents to compete on fees.

When it comes to valuations, you need be open-minded with what the estate agent is telling you and that you’ve made sure you’ve done your research prior to them visiting. You may find that some estate agents will be overly optimistic with their pricing in order to get you to go with them before trying to talk the pricing down once you’ve signed on the dotted line. Equally, you may find that some are more straight-talking and will be honest about the realistic price you can get, telling you not to be fooled by any valuations that are too high.

By doing your own research and looking at similar properties in the area, you should be able to get a good idea of what your property should be worth. And, by asking more than one estate agent to come and value your property, you’ll be able to get a ballpark figure of your property’s value. Remember – you get the final say on what you want your property to be priced at, not them! However, being realistic could help you to sell your house in a quicker time frame instead of trying to push for a higher amount that is too optimistic.

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