Despite their bad reputation and many peoples aversion to using their services, estate agents remain the most common channel for buying or selling property in the UK. The exception is Scotland, where solicitors are more commonly used.
When you are looking to sell a property there is the option of a private sale, however, the fact remains that it is far easier to use an estate agent and so the aim of this guide is to offer some suggestions that will make the experience as pleasant, efficient, and successful as possible.
A realistic asking price
Because the estate agents pay is generally calculated as a percentage of the selling price in commission for the successful sale, they are, like you, wanting to get as much money as possible for the house. However, unlike you, they are generally in no hurry to sell. That is because it is not their home or their lives that are being disrupted and they will not be affected if your house sits there with no offers for 4 months and eventually has to be lowered in price.
As a seller though, you want to ensure that your asking price is set at a realistic level if you are to generate interest, offers and a sale. A falsely elevated asking price will not only waste your time but may even lead buyers into thinking that there is something wrong with your home. This will put them off completely or result in them trying to knock your price down even further.
The best way to ensure you are setting a good asking price is to ask two or three agents for their opinion as to how much your property could fetch, and then go with the average. Check your asking price against the prices of similar properties in the area are attracting for further confirmation that you are in the correct price bracket.
Shop around, the choice is yours
As is the case with choosing which tradesmen or professional to go with, personal recommendation can be the best way to chose your estate agent. However, if you do not have a personal recommendation to assist your decision then it is down to you to do the searching.
The best way to make an informed decision is to do the research, find out who are the biggest agents in your area, find out which agents sell properties similar to yours, check the local papers for adverts that attract you and even pay their shops a visit; do they look busy, do they seem attentive, do they act like they care?
Once the research is done and you are content that you are in a position to make an informed decision, narrow your list down to three agents and proceed to invite them to your house for an evaluation. You should carefully consider everything that all three agents have to say about your property and the prospective sale, however the final choice as to who to go with should come down to the one you feel most comfortable with, and feel that you could work best with.
Be patient – give your agent a chance
Becoming impatient if your home is receiving a lack of interest is natural, particularly if you are in a hurry to make an offer on another property. However, before you go blaming your estate agent for an unsatisfactory service, keep in mind that they may not be at fault.
You should generally give your agent 6-8 weeks to sell your property; until then you should try and be patient, and try to understand the reasons why your home is not getting the attention you feel it deserves.
Look to the housing market in general for clues; is there a slowdown in activity for some reason? Look at your property from an outside perspective; is it an acquired taste or unusual? Is your home in a poor state of repair?
There are a number of reasons why your home may be taking longer than anticipated to sell. By all means ask your agent to explain and help you understand why your property is fairing like it is, but do not act hastily as every agent deserves a chance.
If your agent becomes distant, unhelpful or unreliable, and you begin to feel they are not doing all that they can without answers or explanations, it is time to move on. Do not stick with a useless agent!
Take your agent’s advice on board
You may be the expert when it comes to your home, but when it comes to selling your home it is worth remembering that your estate agent is the expert and that is precisely why you are paying for their service.
Whether you choose to act upon your agent’s advice is a separate issue, but listen to what they have to say; they are, after all experienced in selling property. If you chose to simply ignore their attempts to help and do not give their words at least some consideration then you are essentially wasting your time and money.
Give the agent a key
The majority of sellers prefer the agent to take care of viewings; if you are among this majority then it makes a lot of sense to provide your agent with a key. This will allow your agent to undertake their job with the sort of flexibility that you may not be able to contend with, and these factors can be of paramount importance to the advent of a potential sale.
Leaving your agent to look after the viewings will not only benefit the chances of a sale but it will mean minimum disruption to your life as well.
Trust is obviously important when leaving, what is essentially, a key to your life with a relative stranger and so the importance of your choice of estate agent is again highlighted when considering how you are going to handle your viewings.
If you are using a reputable firm that you chose carefully, you should feel relatively confident that your belongings will be safe. After all your agent stands to lose out on a lot of money if you begin to get suspicious of their conduct.