Blog Post 2: Choosing an Estate Agent

So, you’ve decided you are going to sell your house. Perhaps you’ve outgrown it, perhaps you need to move for work, maybe you have decided to downsize and travel the world – whatever the reason, you are now in a position where you need to find an estate agent who will help you achieve your goal. Your first step is to ensure you have done all you need to prepare your home for selling (see our previous post for 10 tips on how to ensure your home looks it’s best).

Do your homework
Which agent is selling homes similar to yours? This is a good reason to pick an agent as they will have expertise in your particular type of property and should have a good database of potential buyers. Which agent sells the most in your area? It’s important to differentiate here between putting properties on the market and actually selling them. Look out for sold boards and change your filter on Rightmove to include SSTC properties to give you more information on who is actually selling properties in your area.

Go undercover
What are the local agents like? Go into their offices and register as a buyer. Who keeps in touch with you and is proactive about sending out properties and suggesting viewings? How were you greeted when you went in? How did you feel about each individual agent after you visited? This is such an important part of the process and many vendors don’t do it. After all, the team in the office are the people who you will be dealing with on a day to day basis and the ones who are actually tasked with selling your home.

Go compare
How do your local agents compare with an online agent? Many offer a temptingly low headline fee but check what is actually included – will they carry out viewings? What is their communication like – is it easy to get hold of someone when you need to? Do you feel they are knowledgeable about your property and could answer questions from a potential buyer?

It is always a good idea to have at least 3 valuations from different agents. They should be able to tell you exactly what is included in their fee with complete transparency. Any agent can give you a price for your property but a great agent will be able to explain how they have arrived at that figure and back it up with comparable evidence. Ask them what their success rate is – how many properties have they sold recently in your local area? Talk to them on the appointment and see what their market knowledge is like. You will soon see the difference between a passionate, knowledgeable, local expert and someone who is unfamiliar with the area.

It’s Good to Talk
Communication is absolutely key to a successful property transaction. Choose an agent who communicates effectively, otherwise you will spend your life on the phone chasing them up and becoming increasingly frustrated. Save yourself some stress and make sure your agent will keep you up to date – ask about their plans to keep you informed, if they obtain feedback after viewings and how they will be proactive in managing your sale.

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation
How will the agent present your property to potential buyers? Do they have examples of their photography and is it of a good quality? Houses are now predominantly sold online and you have approximately 10 seconds to grab someone’s attention. A beautiful image and the right wording are of utmost importance. Will they advertise in the newspaper? A recent Zoopla survey showed that 70% of people now use portals (eg Rightmove and Zoopla) in their search, but this still leaves 30% of the market who are looking elsewhere. Does the agent have this covered?

Fees, Ts and Cs
Make sure you are comparing like for like. You may have a quote from an agent which is much cheaper than everyone else but are they going to do the same job? Many cheaper agents give a Ryanair type service where everything except the bare minimum service is an expensive add-on. Check the contract – are you tied in for a period of time? What is the notice period? Be wary of agents who claim sole selling rights in their contract; you may be liable for fees even after withdrawing from the contract. A good estate agent will have a clear contract which sets out their fees and tells you exactly how much the final cost will be.

And Finally
You need to feel reassured that your chosen agent will work with you to achieve your goal. This feeling comes from several different places, but ultimately you need to have confidence in the agent to help you achieve the best possible price for your property while helping you navigate the process.

As always, your local PFK office is there to give advice and assistance in helping you move, so please get in touch if you are thinking of selling. You can email us at hello@pfk.co.uk or call in to any of our offices to learn more about how we can help.