How to choose an Estate Agent – Top Tips

So you are about to sell your property and are looking to choose an estate agent. It is imperative that you make use of the services of an informed, professional estate agent to get the best out of your deal and ensure the process is smooth and without problems.

We are all aware of the challenging financial situation most are currently encountering and the negative impact this has had on the property market. It has never been as important to carefully select your estate agent as it has at present.

A good estate agent really is a specialist professional in their field and will often be able to read more from a given situation than you as a layperson due to the years of sale and purchase related experience. However, all these benefits can only be enjoyed if you choose the right estate agent. How do you go about that? What are things that you must keep in mind while doing so?

Here are the some important tips to keep in mind when selecting your estate agent:

1. Zero in on a few potential estate agents based on feedback from friends and relatives, colleagues, websites etc. It helps to have a few names instead of just one so you’ll be able to pick the best after you’ve spoken with them. While short-listing, one of the most important criterion to focus on is experience. Find out some information on their background, getting information about deals they’ve recently closed and how they would deal with your property sale if it was not selling as hoped. It is often said you are only as good as your last sale.

2. Interview all the short-listed estate agents and gather information about their experience and credentials. The latter is important because the  of a estate agent profession is not as highly regulated as some may prefer and there are not many barriers to entry. Someone who has taken the time to qualify with related qualifications and has membership of professional organisations/bodies may help you negotiate a better deal and provide a better service.

3. Check to see how you react to these agents at a gut level and whether or not you’re compatible. You’ll be doing a lot of communicating with your agent and the staff, this compatibility will make the process a lot easier. Fee levels are important however, professonalism, understanding and ease of communication are not to be forgotten.

4. Choose an agent you can trust as they will be advising you at every step, if you’re not convinced that they are working in your interests, you might have to fight the urge to confirm everything they say, unnecessarily complicating and dragging out the process. Look for enthusiasm, dedication, creativity and market savvy. All of these will translate into extra efforts and you’ll definitely stand to benefit from that.

5. Consider not just the figure head of the business, estate agents will have employees who will be equally representing yourself and the property sale. They should also be skilled and able to converse and communicate intelligently about all the details involved in your property transaction.

An agent that respects your time and doesn’t make you feel like a number will most likely be better able to extend such professionalism to the real job at hand, selling your property.

6. Make sure your estate agent understands exactly what you’re looking to gain from the deal and that he/she is capable of achieving that. Ensure your perception of your current property value aligns with your chosen estate agent. However, an estate agent who offers a figure lower than you had envisaged maybe giving an honest appraisal and not offering a figure you would like to hear to gain your property onto his or her ‘books’.

7. Choose a estate agent that has outstanding negotiation skills, personality and charisma. This could translate into a higher sale price. A good estate agent will first look to satisfy your target price not that of the buyer.

8. Consider estate agents that are able to offer multiple advertising opportunities (including advertising on the internet which is now seen as essential) and inhouse arrangement of property inspections. Marketing of your property is their business, explore how they plan to do this and make sure your happy with their plans. If you have more unusal expectations discuss this with your agent and ensure they are able to accomodate.

9. Fee levels are obviously important and higher fees do not always represent that you will receive a better service. There are estate agents who charge as low as 0.5% who can provide a better service than those 400% more expensive ie 2%. National chains will often be harder to negotiate with on fee levels.

10. In these challenging financial times look for an agent who is continuing to perform well and expanding due to success. Most agents will give you a feeling that they will ultimately sell your property to gain you as a client. Selling properties is an agents end goal and expansion can indicate not only confidence but real results.

11. Examine the contract closely and fully understand what you are committing to. Overly restrictive contracts are not to be enetered into lightly. Flexible contracts can indicate that the estate agent is confident about providing satisfaction to the client.

Is the contract a ‘sole agency’ or ‘multiple agency’ contract? Multiple agency contracts are where you get several agents to sell your property, the one who sells the property gets the commission. Multiple agency contracts will most likely involve higher fees.

12. Make sure you are completely happy with the contract and discuss possible scenarios you would like clarification on before you sign. The contract is legally binding so make sure you read the small print.

Choosing an estate agent is not the easiest task, however if done well will certainly help the process run smoothly and be less stressful for the home seller. There are outstanding estate agents who live and breathe property and with a little work you will find one.

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