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How do I choose the right estate agent?



Oliver & Nicky, Cheshire estate agents, talking to a clienty


Many people believe all estate agents offer the same sort of service, and therefore, they either

choose the first one that comes to mind or the one offering the cheapest fee. However, it is

really important to shop around and speak to several estate agents before engaging one to

market your property, as there are different levels of service available as well as different

models, such as traditional high street agents, online-only estate agents and hybrid estate

agents that combine elements of high street and online agents.


Here are some of the things to consider when choosing your estate agent.


Valuation

The first place to start is usually to have your home valued by one or more estate agents. If you

have your home valued by several estate agents, it is possible that there will be some variation

in the valuation figures you receive. This is because no two homes are identical and there are

several factors an estate agent will consider when providing a valuation. Whilst it can be very

tempting to go with the agent that offers you the highest valuation, it is important to consider

how they arrived at that valuation and what service they are going to provide you whilst you are

their client.


A good estate agent will always provide you with as much data and comparable evidence as

possible to support their valuation. Some agents have been known to overvalue properties to

win the business over their competitors and then encourage their vendor client to keep reducing

the price of the property until it sells. Properties that come to the market at an overinflated price

often not only take longer to sell but also sell at a lower value because they have been on the

market for longer than other similar properties.


Consider the evidence that the estate agent has provided to support their valuation and if a

valuation sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Equally, be wary of agents that may have

undervalued your property, as they may be looking to achieve a quick sale at your expense. If

you have at least three estate agents to value your home you should get a good idea of the

realistic market value.


Marketing

How well your property is marketed can not only affect whether your property sells or not but, if it

does sell, also the value you achieve for your home. Before you engage an estate agent take

some time to look at the marketing of other properties that they have for sale (including those

that are already sold subject to contract). Do they market their properties on the main portals

such as Rightmove and Zoopla? Will they proactively market your property to a database of

potential buyers? What quality are the photographs they use and how many photos are there?

Do they have floorplans of all their properties? Do they provide interactive 3D virtual tours? Are

their properties in the larger ‘Premium Listing’ boxes on Rightmove to help them stand out? Do

the asking prices of their properties exactly match the Rightmove and Zoopla predefined price

brackets so they appear in more searches (if done correctly, this can double the number of

buyers who see a property)? Are their descriptions of properties exciting and enticing or dull and

boring? All of the above are questions you should think about when choosing your estate agent.


Viewings

Almost all buyers will want to view a property before making an offer, so how your agent deals

with these viewings is extremely important. Again, there are several questions to consider

asking an agent before you engage them to market your home.


Will they accompany ALL viewings on your property, or will they expect you to conduct some?

There are many reasons why it is best for the agent to accompany all viewings on your home,

but they are too numerous to list here, so they will be the subject of another blog.


Who will be accompanying the viewings on your home? Is it someone who knows you and your

property, or will it be someone you have never met and who has never visited the property

before?


When can they deal with viewing requests that come through? Many people look at properties

online in the evening and at weekends. Is the estate agent able to deal with phone calls and

emails requesting viewings outside typical office hours?


When can the agent conduct viewings? People work different hours, so it is really important that

your estate agent is flexible with viewing times. Can they do viewings of your property seven

days a week and into the evening, when required?


How long will the viewings last? Will the agent give viewers sufficient time in the property to take

it all in, ask questions and really get a feeling for your home?


Knowledge and experience

Many people are surprised to learn that you need any specific experience or qualifications to be

an estate agent. This can mean that the person advising you on the marketing and sale of

probably your biggest asset doesn’t have sufficient knowledge to give the best advice. Even if

you are dealing with a well-known and long-established brand, it doesn’t necessarily mean that

the person you are dealing with has the relevant experience to fully assist you. How long have

they been in the industry and in which roles? Are they members of the National Association of

Estate Agents? How many other sellers have they helped and in what capacity? Do you trust

that person to negotiate on your behalf with a buyer to ensure you achieve the best possible

price for your home? Remember, the person who initially comes out to value your property may

not be the person who you then deal with once your property is on the market. Have you met

that person or those people?


Service

Some of the things I have mentioned above would fall under the service category, but it goes

beyond this. Will your agent contact you to discuss the marketing of your property while your

property is on the market? Will they give you feedback from viewings as soon as the viewing

has been completed? Will they be easy for you to contact at a time that’s convenient to you, by

phone, email, WhatsApp, text message, outside office hours? Will they proactively liaise with

buyers, solicitors and mortgage brokers after a sale is agreed to make sure the sale process

runs smoothly? In a nutshell, will they make the whole process from valuation to completion as

easy and as stress-free for you as possible?


Personality

Lastly, but certainly not the least important question – do you like the estate agent? It is likely

that you will be dealing with your estate agent for several months, and you should have

countless interactions with them during that time. It’s much easier for everyone if you know, like

and trust the person you are dealing with. Selling a property can be a stressful experience, and

there are many reasons why people sell their homes which, in themselves, can be upsetting.

Will the agent you instruct to sell your home deal with you and your property in a caring,

understanding and empathetic way?


In summary, not all estate agents are the same, and it is important to make sure you are

choosing the agent that is right for you and your property. The above points will hopefully make

it easier for you to ask the right questions to ensure you make the right decision from the start.

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