It’s so important to choose the right estate agent but with so many around how do you know which one is right for you? Many people make their decision based on the fees the agent charges however choosing an estate agent with a lower fee is often counter-productive. If they are not the best agent to act for you, but the cheapest, you could well undersell your property and walk away with less money at the end of the process.
Looking at the overall and bigger picture will help you make the best decision. So what factors should you look at when choosing an estate agent? Below are the six things I think you should consider:
How to choose an estate agent – six things to consider
1. How well do they know their local area?
An estate agent should know their local area like the back of their hand, otherwise how will they be able to advise you on how best to market your property? Pricing a property depends on many interlinking factors such as school catchment, proximity to transport links, local developments and access to open spaces. For an agent to be able to get you the best price they need to have an intimate understanding of your area.
2. Ability to negotiate
Pay attention to how the agent negotiates their fees with you; if they waiver or seem unsure of themselves when negotiating their fees with you, how can you have confidence in their ability to negotiate with buyers to get you the best price?
3. Enthusiasm and personality
An agent who has a ‘go-get’ attitude is more likely to get more buyers through the door and negotiate the best terms for you. You want someone who is charismatic and enthusiastic about your property, an agent who is just ‘going through the motions’ is not one who will put in the effort when selling your property. Make sure you meet the team members who will actually be selling your home and not just the Director who does the valuation. And make sure you like and connect with the agent on a personal level; you could be spending a lot of time talking to them over the coming months!
4. Local market share
Can the agent show you comparable properties that they have currently on the market or have previously sold in the area? If so they are more likely to have a current list of buyers searching for a property like yours that they can contact immediately. Some of the quickest property transactions can be disappointed buyers of similar properties who are ready to buy and waiting in the wings.
5. How do they promote themselves?
Online presence has become incredibly important in the world of estate agency with 93% of buyers starting their searches online through portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla. Before you instruct an agent take a look at how they present themselves digitally, is their website clear and easy to use, is the information relevant and up to date? It’s also worth taking a look at whether they are represented on social media, how they interact with other people and businesses and whether they are responsive to comments.
Print media still also has its place so it is a good idea to find out if they are featured in any magazines such as Absolutely or The Resident, which get delivered to local residents. Also make sure you visit the office and take a look at how they present themselves physically, an agent with an attractive office with eye catching window displays is going to attract more foot traffic than one without. The more exposure an agent can get for your property the better they are going to be at finding a buyer.
6. In-depth knowledge on pricing
This is particularly important in calmer markets such as the one we are in now; however I do want to make one thing clear, the market is not plummeting into decline, we are simply experiencing a plateau. Sale prices are not dropping; asking prices are, which is why it is important to get it right from the outset.
Without this knowledge a vendor may end up in a similar situation to a previous client who bought a flat from us two years ago. He paid the right price given the market was increasing about 10% per annum and it was beautifully refurbished. The flat however had a short lease. He would now like to sell in order to find something bigger but in the two years he has owned it he hasn’t extended the lease. In essence he has a depreciating asset. I gave him my price based on this vital information. It is now on the market for 15% more than I quoted and not selling. The agent that has been instructed has given this client very poor advice and he will suffer because of it.
This is just one example of many. What I am trying to say is that if you listen to good agents (and there are more out there than you think!) and they give you the right advice on how to sell your property for the correct price then you have a better chance of getting the result you want. So many of my clients in 2016 have been utterly delighted with the way we have approached selling in a calmer market. Adopting a sensible asking price has more often than not resulted in competitive bidding and even best and final bids. ‘Yeah right’ I hear you cry, but it is true!
If you are looking to sell, buy or let your property and would like some no-nonsense advice then we would love to hear from you!