How to pick a good estate agent when moving home.

When you decide to move home, one of the very first important decisions you will have to make is which estate agent you should use to market and sell your property. Choosing the right one could make the difference between your property being sold quickly or left languishing without very many viewings from prospective buyers. It could also affect the likely price you will be able to sell for, so it is worth taking the time right at the beginning of your move to choose the right agent.

Here, we take a look at some of the points you should consider when picking your estate agent.

Do your research

Research, research, research. It sounds simple but many a decision has been made in haste so make sure you take the time to look at what various estate agents have on offer, and consider what would work best for you.

Ask for recommendations

Again, this may seem like an obvious step, but a good way to get a feel as to how an estate agent really operates is to ask people who have had recent, first-hand experience of them. Ask friends, family or colleagues who have recently moved what they thought of their estate agent to help your form a list of companies to research further.

It’s also worthwhile taking a look in your local area yourself to see which estate agent appears most popular with ‘for sale’ and ‘sold’ signs. While it may not tell you the whole story, it can be a good indication of those companies actively working in the area.

Check their credentials

Every estate agent must now be a member of The Property Ombudsman or The Surveyors Ombudsman Scheme, but many will also be members of other trade bodies which specify certain levels of conduct, professionalism and diligence. These include:

  1. National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
  2. Guild of Professional Estate Agents (GPEA)
  3. Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
You can easily find out if an estate agent is a member of any of these organisations simply by looking on their website.

Ask yourself if a buyer would like them

You are looking to find the perfect estate agent to sell your home, so take the viewpoint of a potential buyer and see if you would be happy with the service they provide. You could pay a visit as a potential buyer looking for a property like the one you may want them to sell for you. When you visit, consider how they act with you and in particular, whether you are happy with the way they describe properties to potential buyers. Would you be confident to buy a property from them?

Get valuations from more than one agent

Once you have a shortlist of estate agents, invite a few over to value your property. Try to do a bit of research on your own first so that you have an idea as to the price-range you would expect your property to come under. Don’t be swayed by the agent who simply values your property highest. Remember that the aim is to sell your property so what you really need is an agent who will be honest, fair and realistic. Over-valuing your property may simply lead to failure to secure a buyer.

What should you ask possible estate agents?

When you meet prospective estate agents, get as much detail as you can about the way they plan to market your property so that you can make an informed decision. Find out:

  • How will your property be advertised? Would they add your property to popular websites such as Rightmove? Will it appear in the local newspapers or agency window? Ask to see examples so that you can look at how they describe and photograph properties already on their books.
  • How long has the agency been established in your area? An agency that is well-established in the vicinity should be in a good position, with the experience to sell your property, with the benefit of knowledge and reputation.
  • Who will be responsible for the viewings of your property? Find out if your estate agent intends to be present at all potential buyer viewings, and if they will be available during evenings and weekends.
  • What are their charges? This is the big question. You need to establish what the agent will charge you for being either the sole agency working to sell your property, and their fees for being in a multi-agency arrangement. Typically, these could range between 1-2% of sale price for a sole agency arrangement, and between 1.5-2.5% of sale price for a multi-agency one.

Decide whether you want a sole or multi-agency approach to selling your home

Weigh-up the advantages and disadvantages of a sole agency arrangement versus a multi-agency one.

 A sole-agency will be cheaper, but it may mean less exposure of your property and therefore it could potentially take longer to make a sale.

 On the other hand, a multi-agency approach increases the likelihood of a quick sale thanks to being able to cast the net for buyers further afield, but for this you will need to be prepared to pay a little bit more.

 The choice is yours. Some people choose to start out with a sole agency to see what the level of interest in their property is initially, before switching to multi-agency at the end of an agreed tie-in period if no sale has been made. (This is usually a period of around 8 weeks.) Others go straight for a multi-agency approach in the hope of securing a quick sale.

Whatever option you choose, don’t be afraid to negotiate on the price you will have to pay once they have helped to sell your home.

Always check the small print!

Before signing any contract, make sure that you understand and are happy with everything contained in the small print. Ask questions about anything you are unclear about or do not agree with. A good estate agent will always be happy to answer any questions you have and there should not be any hidden details to surprise you with at a later stage.

Keep your estate agent’s performance under review

After you have chosen which estate agent (or agents) you want to sell your property, don’t sit back and leave everything to fate. After the first few weeks of your home being on the market, take time out to evaluate how they have performed.

 Ask yourself:
  • How many viewings have there been? Which agency arranged them? (If you chose a multi-agency approach) and how did they go?
  • Does their performance and approach to marketing the property match your initial expectations? If it doesn’t ask yourself why not, and talk to them about it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from the agent’s point of view too. If you have not had any viewings at all, or if you have had plenty of viewings but no offers, the agency may be able to offer you their thoughts as to why, based on their previous experiences or comments received from potential buyers.

They may be able to suggest areas of improvement to your property which could assist a sale, or have a view on the pricing level. Sometimes all it may take is a touch of paint or minor spruce-up to make a good first impression for potential buyers. There is no harm in asking for feedback to help you make an informed decision as to the next steps you should take. After all, you are both working for the same goal, and that is to sell your property.

Your next steps towards a new home

Often hand-in-hand with selling a property comes the purchase of a new one, and this includes arranging a new mortgage. Our team of professional advisors at The Mortgage Hut can offer expert advice on all types of mortgages, whether you are a home mover, first-time buyer, second-home owner or in the buy-to-let market.

Our online Mortgage Calculator gives you an instant guide to how much you may be able to borrow. Simply insert your annual income and deposit amount and we will do the rest.

So, if you are thinking about moving home, why not speak to one of our friendly advisors today to find out how much you could borrow and the best mortgage for your needs. Call us at The Mortgage Hut on 0300 303 2640 or fill in our online enquiry form for no obligation advice.

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