Choosing an Estate Agent

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Choosing an agent is a big decision. Arm yourself with knowledge, to make an informed choice as to which company is right for you.

There are plenty of agents to choose from, and, if an agency is still in business after the downturn, its reasonable to assume all are capable of selling some houses for at least some of their clients. Indeed, it can sometimes feel like choosing an agent is a bit like picking runners in the Grand National… you might feel like simply picking one with a nice colourscheme, a friendly name, or just the first one you pick from a hat.

But it’s very likely that selling your home is one of the biggest financial transactions you will ever do, and it’s widely acknowledged that moving home can be a very stressful experience. Moreover, you may well be moving because of another life-changing event, whether that be a new job, new relationship or new baby. Seen in this light, picking the right agent is actually a really important decision, and not one to be taken lightly!

Your Estate Agent will become a very important player in the selling of your home.  You are trusting them to use professional expertise and experience to find you the best possible buyer, able to pay the highest possible price, and to make sure that everything runs smoothly.  It is not an exaggeration to say that you are trusting your future plans to their skill.

More than that, a good Estate Agent should become a barrier between you and the anxieties and hassles of the sales process.  They should become a trusted advisor, a mentor, able to use their familiarity with the complexities and quirks of all the many different sales they have overseen, to ensure that yours proceeds with the minimum of stress.

Don’t cut corners.  Selling your home is too important to take risks.  Get as much information as you can about each and every firm you are considering.  Speak to their clients and customers.  Visit their offices unannounced.  Test their knowledge of your area.  Try them out, and find out how they operate, before you sign with them.  Know their marketing strategies.

Check their contracts for unreasonable terms, and demand to have them removed – or better still, don’t appoint those companies. Beware of estate agents who want to tie you in to their services exclusively for a long period of time. If they are confident about providing a service, why are they so worried you might change agents?

Bear in mind that discount ‘bucketshop’ agents might not get as good a price as the more expensive agencies, so hiring the cheapest player in town is likely to be a false economy.  Will a company that sells themselves cheaply be able to get a high price for your home.  More important, what is the price, and the value, of a reliable and trusted partner?

Watch out, too, for agencies that concentrate on cross-selling legal and financial services. If their focus of attention is elsewhere, this can undermine the primary goal of selling your home to the best possible buyer. Be on your guard against ‘all in one’ prices that include conveyancing, home information packs, and so on – especially if these are marketed as being ‘free’. Cost out the elements individually… it’s quite possible you’ll find that using specialists for each part of the sales process is both cheaper and more effective.

The three key questions to answer, when you choose your agent, are:

  • Will they be effective?
    In other words, will they get the best price, from the best buyer, in a timescale that suits my needs. This depends upon the company’s marketing and the efficiency and skill of its staff.
  • Do they provide a good customer experience?
    What is it like for potential buyers who have to deal with this agent? Will they keep you informed as to what’s happening? This depends on the attitude and atmosphere of the company, in person, on the phone and in the office. It is affected by the nature of the company’s ownership and management.
  • Do you like them?
    This is not a frivolous question. The agent will be a part of your life for many weeks ahead. You’ll need to speak with them regularly, and to trust what they say. Liking someone is not on its own a reason to choose an agent.. but if you are satisfied that the answer to the first two questions is ‘yes’, then this should be the deciding factor.

 

Choosing an agent is a big decision, so arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible about the companies that you are considering. Then you’ll be able to make an informed choice as to which company is right for you

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