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A UK Homeowners Guide To The Options Available To Them To Sell Their Property Quickly In The UK.

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How to Select an Estate Agent

So you’ve decided to move house. Now comes the somewhat daunting task of selecting an estate agent to market your property.

In an industry plagued by stories of poor communication, exorbitant fees and inexperienced staff it can be difficult to know where to begin in selecting an estate agent to sell your home. We have come up with a few key things to keep in mind when considering instructing an estate agent.

To begin with, you should decide whether you wish to instruct one agent to market your home or more than one. There are pros and cons for each choice.

As the seller, you choose the estate agent and the agent works for you. As more new agents enter the market the competition for new instructions is fierce so use this to your advantage. Unless they have properties to sell on their books, they won’t make any commission.

If you intend to market with two or more agents then you are going to need agents who offer a multiple agency agreement; this means they will permit you to market with more than one agent. Since only the successful agent will be paid commission there is no guarantee that they will be paid for the work they do. This usually means that the respective agents will charge a higher fee for this sort of agreement. The advantage is that you don’t have to choose between agents, the agents are likely to work harder as they will be in competition with each other and by having more than one agent working for you this should increase your chances of finding a buyer. If you decide to instruct only one agent, the commission is likely to be lower. Many sellers start off this way, with one agent at the beginning. They may then take one more agents to act for them after a period of time if the first agent does not secure a buyer.

Something to consider when looking for the right agent is asking family and friends if they can recommend anyone. The traditional opinion is that a local agent is best suited to sell property since they will be familiar with the area and may already have a list of registered buyers. However in recent years, there has been an increase in online and national estate agents. Many of these agents specialise in selling more expensive houses, unusual homes that may be more challenging to find buyers for and other are experienced in the sale of homes where the seller requires a quick sale.

Whichever agent you choose, make sure the agent is experienced. One effective way to do this is by visiting the agents you are considering if possible. You can pretend to be interested in a house they are marketing and then judge them on how professional, competent and proactive they are likely to be with potential buyers. Other things to look at are the agents’ property adverts; do they have clear and in focus photographs, are their descriptions relevant and free from spelling mistakes and do they offer other tools to sell your property such as floorplans and video tours? You should also ask the agent what their viewing policy is – are they able to conduct viewings if you are not available?
We advise that you should shortlist about three agents. You can then invite each agent to do a valuation, giving you an opportunity to look at their property particulars, ask questions and also take an average of their individual valuations if they come in at different figures. Key questions to ask are how would they describe your home to a potential buyer and what would they do if the property was not selling as expected?

Regarding valuations, it is worth remembering that some agents give deliberately optimistic valuations to make you think you can get a higher price with them. This approach relies on them getting you to reduce the price at a later date once you have chosen them. Other agents will give you a more realistic price and advise not to be seduced by inflated valuations. Ultimately you and not the agent decides what the price to market at but if you need guidance ask the agent to back up their valuations with evidence supporting their recommendations. A good agent will be able to show you recent for sale and sold prices and the times frames to achieve those prices. The golden rule is go for the agent who impressed you, this may not be the agent who valued the property at the highest price. You can always ask the agent you prefer to market the property at a higher price to test the market.

Another important factor to check is if the agency staff hold any estate agency or sales qualifications. You should also find out if they are members of a professional trade association, such as the National Association of Estate Agents, or the Guild of Professional Estate Agents and if they are members of an accredited independent ombudsman service.

Regarding fees, currently the average estate agents normally charge between 1% and 3% while some offer a fixed fee. Fees often exclude VAT so take this into consideration. You should also check the agreement to see if you would have any fees to pay the agent if a sale falls through, you sell the property privately or you decide not to sell. Another point to check is the length of the agreement. The average period is between 12-20 weeks. Avoid longer agreements since if you are unhappy with the service the agent provides you may be stuck with them for some time before you can change.

The final and possibly most important thing to consider when choosing an agent is do you trust them? They will be responsible for selling your most valuable asset so you need to be confident that they will do a good job. Use the guidelines above to help you in your selection and if you have any doubts than it may be worth considering a different agent.

 

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