5 things you should ask an estate agent before you decide which one to use

A lot of people think there is much difference from one agent to another, they all advertise on rightmove after all. I believe there are huge differences and it is important you know how the agent you chose differs from the others in your town. I have created a checksheet with 15 key questions that will help you chose your agent, if you would like a copy just email me at daniel@thepropertyshop.co.uk and I will gladly send you a free copy. But I’d like to give you an idea of some of the most important things you should be asking right now, so I have listed 5 of the most important things you should ask your estate agent before you decide which one to use below.
1) Will I be tied into a contract?
Many agents have a period of exclusivity written in to their contract. Which in theory doesn’t cause a big problem. However it becomes a problem when you discover that it is often 12 to 16 weeks and in some cases I have known it be for 26 weeks – that’s right HALF A YEAR!  Over the last 15 years I have worked in all sorts of market conditions but I can honestly say if the marketing and the price is right it has never taken anywhere near that long to sell a home. So why do they tie you in for so long? I can only assume it is so they don’t need to worry about providing any kind of ongoing level of customer service, or it is because they know they have over valued your property initially to gain your business and need that long to persuade you to reduce your price low enough to allow them to finally agree a sale. There is certainly no benefit to you and in my opinion a good agent should not need to hide behind a clause like this.
2) On average, what percentage of original asking price do you achieve for your clients?
This is a really important question on two levels. First of all it should give you an idea of whether the agent has a habit of over inflating their valuations in order to gain peoples business. In other words are they over promising on what they can achieve and then having to reduce the price and accept offers below. It should also give you an indication if their strategies get results, on average in the UK agents achieve 96% of asking price, which based on the average home value in the UK means a reduction of over £9,000. But many good agents will be able to achieve much closer to asking price, and even just 2% more (in other words on average 98% of asking price) is going to mean potentially an extra £4,500 on your sale price.
3) Will you actually be my agent throughout the entire process?
Many agencies, new and old, have one person who’s job is to list properties on the market. They spend all their time chatting with people like you convincing them to use their services. However these people are very rarely actually involved in anything after you have gone on the market. In my opinion it is far better if the agent you meet is with you at every step of the way. Not only is there more accountability but there is also greater continuity for you. Don’t get me wrong I don’t expect them to book every viewing and take every call but they should be in regular contact and taking overall control and overall responsibility for your home move.
4) If I don’t sell, will I have to pay anything?
A bit like question one, this is a way to find out how you might be tied to the agent. Many traditional high street agents charge a fee if you decide to cancel their services. Which means if you aren’t happy with their services and want to switch agents you are going to have to pay them a fee to do that. This is often something that is left to the small print of the contract and sellers don’t realise until they are already committed to the terms of the contract. The more modern online or DIY agencies will often charge you a full fee regardless of whether they sell the property, which means you could be expected to pay around £850-£1,000 without having agreed a sale
5) Who will carry out my viewings?
You may be surprised to discover that many estate agents, both traditional high street agents and the modern online/DIY agents expect their clients to carry out their own viewings. This might not sound like a big deal, but you are paying your agent to get you a sale and you can reasonably expect that this will be at the best price possible. Therefore in my opinion it is your agent who should carry out all of your viewings. You might be perfectly comfortable showing people around your home, but will your buyer feel comfortable nosing around while being watched by you? Possibly not. Will your buyers talk openly with each other about their thoughts during the viewing if you are showing them around? Possibly not. You have made the decision to move, maybe your home is too small now, or maybe the neighbours are a little annoying, are you going to be as positive about your home as a professionally trained experienced sales person who is there purely to focus on the positives and who is comfortable subtly pointing out the features and benefits? Possibly not.
Of course having the agent do your viewings means you are restricted on the time, so check what options they offer potential buyers.
As I said at the start my check sheet has 15 questions that will help you make the right choice, I have only listed five of those questions here and hopefully you have already started to see how actually the service offered by one estate agent to another can be very different. If you’d like to receive a copy of my checksheet just email me – daniel@thepropertyshop.co.uk and I will send you one by return. If you’d like some specific information or a valuation of your home you can request a meeting here http://www.thepropertyshop.co.uk/book-a-valuation
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