When it comes to picking an estate agent, research suggests we tend to be most swayed by personal recommendation. If our friends or family say they’ve had a good experience with a particular firm we’re inclined to go to them first, even without doing any particular comparisons ourselves.
As we’re currently rated No2 in the UK for customer service on independent website Trustpilot and as many of our leads do indeed come from third-party referrals, we’re actually quite happy with that.
But, just the same, if we were asked for advice on how to choose an estate agent to help sell your home, we’d actually encourage a slightly more scientific approach.
First of all, we’d suggest you pick three agents to value your home just to see if they come close to an estimated asking price which you can easily establish yourself by researching the property portals and the Land Registry’s website for homes in your area which have sold recently.
After that, we’d recommend seven additional questions:
How long a tie in period is there?
Is your preferred agent requesting a sole source purchase agreement? If they are, it means you can’t advertise your home through any other agent so you’ll probably want to know how long they want to tie you in for. If it’s only for a few months, it’s not too bad but, if it’s for a lot longer, be cautious. It could mean you’re locked in with one agent which isn’t great news if they struggle to sell your home. You will have denied yourself access to any alternatives.
Do they charge a withdrawal fee?
Is your preferred agent suggesting a withdrawal fee if you change your mind about selling or if your circumstances change and you want to take the property off the market? If so, get a figure in writing. Not all agents will charge but, if they do, the figure can seem arbitrary if you’re not aware of it beforehand.
Are there any “optional extras”?
Are there aspects of service offered by your preferred estate agent which are “optional extras”? You may be surprised to find that some companies operate a little like a budget airline; their headline fees seem reasonable until you realise they don’t include photographs, floor plans and for sale boards. You also might like to check if the price you have been quoted includes VAT.
What do they charge for an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Did you know every home has to have an EPC by law? The thing is there’s no set fee for providing one. It could be anything from £60 to £120 so it’s best to find out in advance.
Which websites do they use to advertise your property?
Not all estate agents use all the online portals. A couple of years ago, in a bid to break the Rightmove/Zoopla duopoly, a consortium of influential high street agents launched their own portal called On The Market. Member companies were offered significant discounts on fees paid for listings but, in return, they had to drop one of the other portals. Most chose not to use Zoopla but, since 2015, On The Market has not been the success many had hope and, as a result, clients of member agents have been missing out. Is your preferred agent a member of On The Market? If so, then be aware that could mean your home will not appear on Zoopla, which is the UK’s second largest portal
Social media marketing
Does your agent use social media effectively? Some will post material to draw in customers or to attract clicks on their website but are they actually using targeted posts to sell property? Why not have a look on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. You’ll be able to make your own assessment of how effective they are – and if they’re right for you.
Do they work evenings and weekends?
It may not seem to be a deal-breaker but, if you’re working, finding an agent out of hours can be a Godsend. You may be surprised to find many don’t work after Saturday lunchtime or at all in the evenings. It’s certainly worth checking.
If the answers to the questions above are all the ones you’ve hoped for, then you’ve probably found the right agent for you. If not, it might be worth spending a little more times searching the alternatives. But, as ever, if you think we can help, feel free to drop us a line or give us a call. We’d love to help if we can.