Appointing the right agent to handle the sale of your home is crucial; for most people their home is their biggest asset so it’s imperative to get it right. Selling a property can be a stressful and complex process. You need an agent who has the experience to market your property correctly, the skill to handle negotiations as well as co-ordinate solicitors, surveyors and mortgage providers along with every buyer, seller and agent in the chain.
The first few weeks on the market are key when it comes to generating interest and securing a buyer at the optimum price. As soon as a property is reduced the momentum has been lost so appointing an agent with the correct pricing strategy is imperative. In my experience properties that come to the market at too much money end up selling for less than they would have done had they been realistically priced in the first place.
Here’s my guide which will hopefully ensure you get it right!
1. Ask for recommendations from friends, family and colleagues.
Speaking to someone who’s had first hand experience of a particular agent is invaluable although it’s important to get the name of the person they dealt with as often it’s the individual not the firm who did the great job. A good reputation is hard to achieve as an Estate Agent so pay particular attention if a name crops up again and again.
2. Independent vs Corporate.
Although demand is strong from buyers it’s still important to make sure when it comes to selling a property that it’s presented in the best possible light and reaches as many buyers as possible. Any agent can list your property on Rightmove or Zoopla but an independent agent with a trusted reputation and excellent local knowledge will provide a more tailored and specialist service which will help maximise the full potential value of your home.
3. Do your own research before speaking to any agent.
Zoopla has a great tool which estimates what your home is worth however it doesn’t take into account any work you may have carried out nor does it have the inside track on the circumstances when you bought, perhaps it had been on the market a long time and you got a bargain!
Look what your competition is, how many homes like yours are on the market and how long have they been available, have they been reduced etc.
Consider properties that have sold, again Zoopla has this information readily available.
Identify agents who are used to handling properties such as yours and have the right experience to guide you through the process.
4. Online presence and social media.
A strong social media presence is extremely important for estate agents today. It enables an agent to portray their brand and provide impeccable customer service by dealing with enquiries swiftly. Spend some time looking at an agents profile on Instagram and Facebook, how do they present themselves, are they the right agent to handle the sale of your property?
It’s also important to look at google reviews – are they all 5 star and do they have up to date reviews as opposed to ones from several years ago.
5. Invite three agents to value your home.
Pay particular attention to punctuality, politeness, professionalism and knowledge.
Have a chat with the agent first and be honest about your circumstances, needs and timescales. A good agent will give thought to your position and tailor their recommendations accordingly.
Take the time to show them round your home, it’s a good time to build rapport, see if they ask interesting and sensible questions and establish whether you feel you could work with them.
Offer them a drink and once they’re ready to present their proposal invite them to sit at a table – it’s so much less awkward than them getting off the sofa every time they want to show you something!
Try not to be swayed by the one who comes up with the highest price and offers the lowest fee. A good agent should be able to show you comparable properties which have sold in the area to demonstrate how they arrived at the figure for yours. If they don’t show you any examples then ask how they’re justifying the value. Many agents will show you what they’re currently listing but it’s the properties they’ve sold that are important.
Keep in mind that the person you’re meeting may not have very much involvement once the property is not the market. You may think they’re fabulous but what about the rest of their team? Ask who you’ll be dealing with on a day to day basis and who’ll be carrying out viewings. Don’t be afraid of asking to meet those people before you make a decision.
An experienced agent should talk you through the selling process, how they’ll market your property, the type of brochure they’ll produce, content etc. but if they don’t then ask.
Don’t be afraid of asking lots of questions – what’s the market like at the moment. How many buyers do they have on their books who could be interested in your property? How often will you get feedback and what will it comprise?
Establish what will happen once a sale is agreed, does the negotiator personally handle the sales progression or does it get passed across to a centralised team?
Also ask whether there’s anything you can do to make the house more saleable / enhance the value. Just as you’ve been honest about your position take note if the agent is comfortable giving you sincere advice.
Agents normally charge a % of the selling price plus VAT. There may be additional costs for advertising, professional photography or if you withdraw the property from sale. A good agent will normally give you a detailed breakdown and there should be no hidden costs. Don’t assume cheapest is best, it rarely is.
It’s important to remember that you’re working with the agent not against them. You’re both looking for the same result – the best price in your desired timeframe. Having taken the time to do your research and select the agent you feel comfortable dealing with, if you’re working together you’re most likely to get the best result. Take on board any advice they may give, at the end of the day they’re the expert and you’ve engaged them to steer you smoothly through the process.
Harriet George – Matching people with property
View the properties that Harriet George currently has on the market here