The London property market is one of the most lucrative in the world, indeed Forbes recently placed it in the top ten places to ‘invest in real estate in 2015’. So how do you go about choosing an estate agent to sell your biggest asset – one you’ve invested not just money in but also love and care? Of course you want the best price for your property but you also want someone who will make process as smooth and stress free as possible.
A search online for your chosen area will bring up a bewildering number of local estate agents so we’ve compiled some top tips to help you answer the question ‘how do I choose an estate agent to sell my London property? ‘
1. Create a shortlist of agents
The first thing to do is create a short-list of agents to call in and value your property. Ask friends, family and acquaintances who they would recommend. Check the agents’ websites and social media feeds to see if you like what they say and how they market their properties. See what other properties they’re currently marketing in your area. Don’t be afraid to pop into their office or pick up the phone and have a chat with the sales manager. And trust your gut instinct. If you like the sound of someone – or indeed don’t like them -that can be very telling. Try not to be swayed by fancy offices or free coffee- that doesn’t mean this agent is best equipped to sell your property!
2. Get at least three agents to value your home
Once you’ve created your shortlist, invite at least three agents in to value your property. Don’t be swayed by the highest valuation; many London estate agents value high to get your business but then fail to deliver on their inflated price, leaving your property languishing on the market whilst other better priced properties get snapped up by your potential buyers. You will have an idea of what your property is worth so bear this in mind. Ask the agents to justify their valuation and go for what seems like the most sensible price.
3. Grill them!
Whilst the agents are in your property, use this as a chance to grill them to see who would be best placed to act as your agent. Ask them what similar properties they’ve sold in the area and for how much. Ask their opinion of other properties on the market. Find out if they have any potential buyers in mind seeking a property like yours. Discuss their fee structure and contracted tie-in period (i.e. how long you have to stay with them once they’ve been appointed). How would they market your home and where? And finally, how would viewings work – would you have one point of contact or a team working for you and would they be present at all viewings? During this time, you’ll get an idea of who seems genuine; confident but not desperate for your business, knowledgeable and not spouting generic clichés.
4. Going for the lowest fee is false economy
Agents’ fees can vary greatly and most are open to negotiation on the percentage of the sale price they charge. Be wary of those willing to drop to a low fee almost immediately. This means they are desperate for your business. Instead get the agents to justify their fees and go with your gut instinct on who seems most capable of selling your property.
5. Choose an agent you like and trust
Not all estate agents in London deliver great service. Some are very target driven and pushy whereas others may come across as snooty. Ensure you appoint someone who fits your character. You may be talking to them a lot over the next few months so it’s important that you like them. You’ll also need to trust their assessment of potential buyers and their financial situation. And of course they’ll be negotiating on your behalf. So it’s crucial you also trust your agent and know that they’ll be representing your best interests throughout the sale. It’s amazing how many agents forget that they’re working on behalf of the vendor not the buyer!
6. Keep them on their toes!
Once you’ve decided on an agent, keep them on their toes! Don’t be afraid to chase them up on promised actions such as feedback on viewings. If you’re not happy with your agent, let them know and don’t be afraid to escalate issues.
Director – Head of Sales, Mountgrange Heritage
30 March 2015