The Independent London Newspaper

Letters

Feature: How to choose an estate agent to sell your property

Published: 5 November, 2012
ADVERTISING FEATURE

SO, you’ve decided to put your property on the market. How do you choose which estate agent to appoint?

Typically, people rely on two criteria when deciding to instruct an estate agent – they choose the agent which either charges the lowest commission rate or offers the highest valuation. However, this is not necessarily the best approach.

If you don’t want your property to be on the market indefinitely, and you want to achieve a good price from a reliable buyer, you’ll need to do your homework before choosing an agent.

Local market knowledge

Markets change. One year demand for property in a certain area is over-subscribed, while the following year, even beautiful properties are difficult to sell. You need to find an agent who is in tune with the current mood of the local market. The best solution is to choose an agent who is already selling property similar to yours in the area.

Before they visit, think about what type of services you want from an agent and any extras, such as virtual tours of properties on their website or an online sale tracking system, it might offer.

Advertising

How and where will the agency promote your property? Which property websites will the property be advertised on? This is one of the most important considerations. Make sure you choose an agent who advertises properties similar to yours in the local press. Chances are that they will already have a large pool of buyers who have enquired about similar homes to yours.

Ask the agency what form the advertising will take. How much of their advertising is online? An estimated 80% of buyers use the internet when looking for a property so it's important to be marketed on the agency’s own website as well as on a property portal. You need to ensure your property is found and promoted. Ask the agent which property portals they work through. Three of the UK’s market-leading sites are Rightmove.co.uk, Propertyfinder.com and Fish4homes.

Interview the Agent

When an agent arrives at your property to discuss taking on your sale, make sure you interview the individual who will be responsible for handling the sale. Ask him or her how many similar properties have they sold in the neighbourhood? At what price did these properties sell? How long did it take to sell the properties?

Are the agency buyers looking for properties like yours? Will the agent you meet be responsible for the property visits and viewings? Also, try to get a sense from the agent of which aspects make your property attractive and which might hinder or slow a sale. Advance knowledge can give you time to accentuate any positives and improve negatives.

Estate agent fees

Charges range from 1% to 2% for ‘sole agency’ – i.e. you give one agent responsibility for selling your home, or from 1.5% to 2.5% to sell on a multiple agency basis (more than one agent is appointed to sell your home).

Some agents offer a scaled-down service that is charged at a ‘fixed price’, which is payable upfront whether your property sells or not. This service usually includes producing property details, promoting your property online and sometimes – but not always – in the local newspaper.

Price differentials in fees charges can often reflect quality, reliability and performance of the agency so don’t make a decision based entirely on a low commission charge.

For an informal discussion about selling your property, speak to Hamptons Estate Agents London.

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