Estate agents now come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes it can be hard to work out what might work best for you. From our perspective, we now work alongside both the traditional `full-service’ estate agencies and the online agencies but we know from talking to our clients that it is sometimes hard to choose.
Traditional or online?
A traditional ‘full-service’ agency will have a physical presence, an office that you can visit. It is easy to get to know the agents and you will usually have one ‘lead’ agent that is your point of contact during the sale process, this person will usually be in touch throughout the wholesale process. Their costs are usually paid when a sale goes through to completion – so on a ‘no sale no fee’ basis.
Online agents do not usually have a physical office and usually charge a fee at the beginning of the sale process to add your property to their online sale platforms. The fees for online agents are generally lower than for traditional agents. However, they will not usually assist in the same way during the sales process and you do sometimes need to do some of the things yourself, viewings perhaps, that a traditional agent would otherwise do for you.
Where do I start?
A good place is to ask family or friends who they have used and would recommend. It is also helpful to have a really good look of the sale-boards in your area – are particular company boards up for long periods of time or do properties seem to sell quickly? Why not wander down the High Street, look in some windows – which offices look bright and appealing, are they selling properties like yours locally, does the agency belong to an Ombudsman scheme or a professional body, perhaps the NAEA Propertymark or RICS? If you are thinking about an online agency, have a look at the quality of their photos and descriptions already marketed – do the houses look inviting, would you want to see them? Is their platform easy to use and accessible?
You can also ask us too – we have an in-depth knowledge across our offices of local agents that are easy for clients to work with, are clear and straightforward, that sell well and that really know the local market or particular types of property.
When to make contact?
It is so easy just to send an email saying that you are interested in their service but the agency you choose will need to be people that you can trust and work alongside, that will be honest and realistic with you. It is much easier to get a sense of people if you ring them or, better still, if you drop in to see them if you can. If they make you welcome, are approachable and professional, that will go a long way in creating trust between you. If it feels wrong or you are apprehensive, then walk away and cross that agency off the list.
What to say? What to ask?
It is really important that you are honest with the agents and that you tell them about your circumstances and what you need so that they can make sure that they keep any key dates in mind and, if you have particular issues, that they tailor their service to you.
Don’t be afraid to ask your agent questions and you should make sure you have a clear agreement with your agent on what they will do for you. I would always ask if they will do viewings; how will they value the property; do they have possible buyers ‘on their books’; how will they market the property; how will they keep in touch with you and with us, and how often; how do they calculate their fees; what do you pay extra for; what happens if you want to move agents or you change your mind about selling? I would also make sure that the small print in the agency agreement does cover what you have agreed – if you are nervous about the terms or they are unclear, you can ask for clarification or just ask us to have a look before you sign.
Just remember… Your agent works for you, so it is key that you have confidence in them and that you feel they will be doing the very best that they can for you.