Not all estate agents are equal! What does this mean?
There are a myriad of agents out there offering varying levels of service. From the very basic online agent offering a flat fee to list a property and you do all of the work to the high end agents offering a highly personalised and specific service. There is something for everyone. What level of service you require will depend on your circumstances and how much time and effort you wish to expend.
With a little homework you will be able to find the right agent for you. There are few things you will need to be aware of before you start. As a local high street agent I am obviously going to be extolling the virtues of using us but I do understand that what we offer is not right for everyone.
Online agencies have their place and for those who are truly proficient online, have an eye for property photography and understand how the market works, these could be helpful. One of the main things to consider when using an online agent is that you pay your fee upfront so realistically where is the need for them to sell your property? Statistics out there state that only 40% of online stock is sold! That's 60% of their customers left with a very bitter taste! Why is this? Well my thinking is that there is far more to selling a property than just listing it on a property portal or two! You need to know your stock, know your area and more importantly know your buyer. What are they looking for? What drives them to buy in certain areas? What are their time frames? The list is endless but you get what I mean? By talking with your buyers and really getting to know them you can match them to property before it is even listed. By being a proactive agent like this you can ear mark potential buyers whilst valuing properties. You know their budget, you know their likes and dislikes. You can make it look easy to your vendor but it is about being that person who gets to know both their applicants and stock. Easy? Most agents do not do this especially online agents. How can they? They do not register the applicants or take the time to get to know them. The agent in charge of the properties usually has a vast area to cover so has no knowledge of specific roads that perform better because of the local school, roads where the houses are of a particular type and command more money than others etc.
By using a local agent you should get someone with excellent local knowledge, a good database of applicants and a drive to get a job well done. Using an independent agent you will get a personalised service where you are important to them as a client. You are not a number or a target to be achieved you are a person who has needs and wants with their property and this is understood and practised in an independent agency.
As a vendor you will be given an expert market appraisal where the valuer will attend having carried out an extensive report on properties currently marketed and sold in your area. You will be updated as to the current market conditions in the area and generally. Armed with this knowledge you will be able to see why the agent comes to the price they market at. Some vendors do already know what they want to achieve but this is not always a reasonable or realistic expectation. A good agent will have the data and reports to help establish what the achievable price is.
As previously stated, knowing your buyers’ criteria is key to making a sale. By listening to people and making detailed notes when registering them helps greatly in finding them the right property and not wasting time in showing property that really does not fit the bill. Nothing bothers applicants more than being sent property details that are nothing like what they want.
Consistency is also important when selling property. By this I mean not having a high turnover of staff so people have confidence when calling or visiting an office that they will be able to speak with the same person and actually be remembered and welcomed. Nothing is more frustrating than finding you have spent hours relating your needs and wants to a person to find they leave and you have to start all over again!
Another thing to consider is a lot of agents are target driven. By this I mean management give staff targets to reach for the amount of applicants registered, viewings and valuations booked, sales achieved etc. When this is the case you will find that as a vendor you will get viewings booked that really do not want your property, they have been tagged on to make up the numbers and will probably not even show up! This is most frustrating or both vendors and applicants alike. Also applicants are often strong armed to make offers on unsuitable properties. This leads to them pulling out of a sale once the pushy agent leaves them alone to really think about what they are doing!
One last thing to consider is the tie in period your agent is asking for. Why do they need it? Are they not going to do their best for you? Really if an agent is confident in their service they do not need to tie you in for weeks on end and then add insult to injury by asking for another four weeks notice. An agreement is needed to cover both parties but a tie in period…really?
When doing your homework to find the best agent for you there are several things you can do to find the right agent for you:
Check online reviews – the majority should be positive. See if they are consistent. Do they mention staff by name? Are negative reviews responded to by the agent? If they are this shows the agent cares and wants to portray this to the wider public.
Are they members of Propertymark and qualified agents? This can be checked on the Propertymark website.
How big is the team? How long have they all worked in the company? Look on their website, check the names on the reviews published to see if they are current staff.
What stock do they have? How long is it on the market before it sells? What percentage of the asking price is achieved? This can be checked on Getagent, an independent website where agents can be compared.
Do they have a high street presence? Check their offices. Are they staffed? Are the staff attentive when you go into the office or call the office? Mystery shop a few agents to see if they know their stock and more importantly what the ethos of the company is. If they are helpful and friendly it is a good starting point.you will be surprised to learn that some do not even answer the phone or call you back at all. Don't give them a second chance as this usually sets the tone!
I hope this has been a helpful tool in choosing the right agent for you. There are plenty to choose from but just remember they are not all equal. If you do your homework right you will find the best agent for you and save yourself wasted time and energy. Remember to negotiate that tie in period as this could save you from weeks of frustration.
I have not mentioned fees as I am a great believer in you get what you pay for. The right agent will help you achieve the best price for your property often covering the fee and then some. Choose wisely and you will be pleasantly surprised at what can be achieved in the minimum time frame when selling your property.
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