If you have followed the steps so far, your home is clean, decluttered and staged, ready for you to invite estate agents around for evaluations.
But how do you choose an estate agent? What do you need to consider? Do you choose high street, online or one of the growing numbers of hybrid agents? And what are these anyway?
What is the difference between High Street, Online and Hybrid?
As the name suggests, high street estate agents have a presence on the high street. A shop with a display window, ensuring that passing customer view properties that are for sale in the local area. I’m pretty sure that most people have stopped outside a high street estate agent and looked at house prices in the area.
High street estate agents do get passing customer looking for homes in the area, however they also have fees to pay for the premises. In general, they charge 1% to 1.25% plus VAT of the property sale value, outside of London. Payment is made on completion and there is often a contractual period for exclusivity.
Online estate agents as the name suggests, do not have a high street presence and therefore their costs are minimised, charging a one-off fee that will be considerably less than 1% + VAT of the sales value. Be aware of on-line estate agents who charge up front, or ensure you sign a credit agreement for their fees as there is simply no incentive to sell your home. If you want to keep fees to a minimum and the property ‘sells itself’ then this is a good option. Otherwise it probably isn’t.
See my previous article for more details Will Using an Online Estate Agent Save You Money?
Hybrid Estate Agents may or may not have a high street presence but influenced by the new pricing structures of the online agents, offer a different fee structure. They often don’t have a contract and change only once the property sale has completed. They often charge a lower rate 0.75% to 1% + VAT of the property sale or even a fixed fee for marketing the property and then another fixed fee on completion. These are worth considering but do ensure you understand any contract and fees before proceeding.
8 Top Tips of How to Choose a Good Estate Agent
There are several things to consider when choosing a good estate agent:
1) Fees. As detailed above, make sure you understand the fees, when they are due and what you are getting. Don’t be afraid to negotiate on the fees. Every 0.1% helps!
2) Contract. Make sure you understand the duration and terms of any contract you are entering. Estate Agents usually ask you to sign a contract as they will be putting money into marketing spend. However, not all do, so check with them right up front.
3) Make sure you understand where your property will be advertised both on and off line. Online portals such as Zoopla, Rightmove and On the Market are the most popular. But off-line marketing such as local papers, magazines and door drops are also used. Ask what their marketing strategies are.
4) Look on-line at other houses for sale by the estate agent. Do they ‘sell’ the property.
- Are the properties they are selling in a similar price bracket to yours?
- Are the photographs clear and well lit?
- Is their website easy to navigate?
- If you call the number as a potential buyer, does someone answer quickly? One estate agent I tried got back to me 4 days later! If you were a buyer, you may well have lost interest / bought another property in that time.
5) Check that they know the area. Check that the agent knows your local area, this will help prospective buyers if they ask about local schools, shops etc.
6) Ask who undertakes the viewings. If it is one of the knowledgeable local and permanent team, then great. If it is someone who simply opens the door and can’t answer any questions from buyers, this will not sell your home.
7) Ask if they have a property questionaire. This is the sign of a through estate agent. If they keep a record of potential questions and answers that buyers may ask, then they can ensure regular questions, such as ‘How old is the boiler?’ and ‘Is the loft boarded?’ can be answered.
8) Check if they have professional qualifications or belong to either The National Association of Estate Agents or The Ombudsman for Estate Agents
I hope these tips help you choose the right estate agent for you. Next week, I’ll provide a summary check list for the full ‘Preparing Your House’ process, so that you can ensure you are on track.