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How to choose an estate agent

You've made the decision to sell and now you're ready to take the next step and instruct an estate agent. Generally, the process starts with an estate agent coming to your home and conducting a 'market appraisal'. A market appraisal is where the estate agent will look round your home. They will discuss market conditions with you, offer you advice on how to get your sale off to a good start and they will give you a valuation for your home. They will also talk about their service and their fees. It is at this meeting that home sellers usually decided what estate agent to go with.

It is common practice to invite three estate agents out to conduct a market appraisal. When you think of estate agents in your area, I imagine three will easily come to mind. Sellers might be compelled to invite the estate agents that have the most for sale boards up and dominate the market. However, carefully consider this. Big is not always best. There are a lot of smaller independent agencies out there that may have a high-quality service. You just may not have noticed them.

To ensure that the three agents you do invite out are the cream of the crop, follow these steps so you have the best agents in the area to choose from:

Word of mouth:

There is no better way to start than asking your family, friends, work colleagues, if they have heard of a good estate agent. You may know someone who has sold recently or has bought. Chances are they did it through an agent, so ask them if they would recommend them. Ask them what the good points were and the bad points. If they did not have a good experience, enquire if they have since heard of a good estate agent.

Put it out there on social media. Facebook has a special post option dedicated to this, where you can put a 'looking for a recommendation' post up. People love giving advice so you'll probably get good feedback on this. Facebook and google reviews are also useful for checking ratings for estate agents. Have a look at the estate agents Facebook page and read through the reviews.

Shortlist and do your homework:

When you have three or four agents shortlisted, do some research on the agencies. Have a look at their websites, get a feel for them. Look at how they market the properties they have. Are the property images clear and good quality? How is the description? Hopefully not boring? Compare them with other agents and score them out of ten.

Undercover research

Ever fancied being a mystery shopper? Well now is your chance! Call your shortlisted agents and tell them that you are interested in a property they have for sale (pretend if you need to). Ask them to send out a brochure. Pay attention to how the agent comes across and what questions they ask you. They should be trying to build a relationship with you from this point and should be interested in your situation and what you are looking for. The agent should always ask for a phone number to follow up with you. Remember - this could be the kind of reception that a buyer who is interested in your property would receive. Imagine if a potential buyer asked for your property details and then your agent never followed up with them. This is the golden opportunity for the agent to get them hooked onto your property and is a chance for them to sell the viewing to the buyer.

When the printed brochure arrives, make a note of how long it took to be delivered and what the quality of the brochure is like. These are all indications of how proactive the agent is and how much care they take in their work. Did they ever follow up with you? All these little glimpses help build up a picture of the estate agent and will help you decide on who to go with.

One to one:

Now that you have shortlisted and tested out the agents, you should have a good idea of the better ones and you may even know who you want to go with, but reserve your final judgement for your face to face meeting. It is time to call the agents in to complete a market appraisal. This is your perfect opportunity to see how they present themselves and their agency to you face to face.

It is at this point you will find out what your home is worth. Be careful not to get too carried away with the agent that states the highest price. Some agents have been known to do this to win your instruction, however, weeks or months down the line you will have to reduce the price as it was overvalued to start with.

Make a list of all the key features of each of the agent's service. Note down their fees and any extra costs such as floor plans or EPCs. Your home is likely to be your biggest asset, so moving home will be one of the most expensive transactions you will ever make. It makes sense to put this in the hands of a professional. Ensure that when you are weighing up the pros and the cons, quality of service is one of the most important considerations. When comparing the agent's fees, bear in mind that like most things in life - you get what you pay for. One agent may be particularly cheap compared to the others, but how does the service compare? What is their property marketing like? Avoid trying to save a few hundred or thousands of pounds here - its' not worth it. In the long run, this could cost you tens of thousands of pounds if your property sale is not dealt with correctly.

Now that you have put your local estate agents through their paces, it is time to kick back, have a cup of tea and mull over your observations. You should now have a good idea of which agent you want to instruct. Review all your findings and go with your instinct and gut feeling on who you think will be a good fit to sell your home. To give yourself the best chance of a successful sale, you will need to build up a good relationship with this agent. Ask yourself - who do you want to speak to most?

Green Key Sales and Lettings understand the importance of building strong relationships with our buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants. If you are thinking of selling, it makes sense to put your sale in the hands of an agent who is knowledgeable and cares about you and your house sale.

We would love to talk to you about how we can help you with your sale. Give me a ring on 01522 904 904 or drop me an email on paul@greenkeysalesandlets.co.uk. I look forward to hearing from you.

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