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A guide to choosing the right estate agent

Published: 6th September 2018

A guide to choosing the right estate agent

Property transactions typically involve sums of money which are significant to both buyers and sellers. Getting the best possible price, for the lowest possible cost can therefore make a significant difference to your finances, which is why it’s so important to choose the right estate agent.

This wasn’t necessarily easy, even in the pre-internet days and now the rise and rise of the online estate agents means that there is a lot more choice and while this is good, it can also be confusing. With this in mind, here are three tips to choosing the right estate agent.

Start by checking who works in your area

You’ll have your local estate agents of course and then there are the online ones. When it comes to the online ones, however, we’d suggest splitting them into two groups - those which have local experts and those which are totally centralised.

Do some mystery shopping

Remember that these days, regardless of whether you’re using a high-street estate or an online estate agent, a fair percentage of buyers are going to start their property search online anyway, so mystery-shop your choice of estate agents online to see how well they perform in this vital first stage. Given that you’re essentially acting as a buyer, it’s fine just to go with your gut feeling about a company’s online presence, but if you’d like an audit checklist, here are three points to check.

Pictures and video - Pictures matter a lot and the thumbnail is particularly important as it is the first picture the browser will see. We include the floorplan under pictures and there should be one. If it’s downloadable and/or hosted externally, check the link. If it’s slow to load, you might want to give the estate agent a second chance since all companies can have temporary website issues, but if there’s no improvement, think carefully about whether or not you want to go with that agent as modern internet users are not known for their patience with slow-loading websites, quite the opposite.

Description - An effective sales description contains a mixture of facts and emotional appeal, sometimes the two combine, for example, being near a good school is a fact, but it also has emotional appeal. In short, a good property description tells buyers the facts they need to know and the facts which want to hear.

Contactability - Once you’ve got a buyer’s attention, how easy is it for them to take action? The easier it is, the more likely it is that they will do so - and vice versa. This is basic sales knowledge and any good estate agent should have it covered.

Draw up a shortlist of candidates and ask for a valuation

By this point, you’ll have a basic idea of who can do a decent job of marketing your home, so your final decision is likely to come down to a combination of knowledge, customer service and cost, probably in that order. You get your chance to find out about all of the above when you ask for a valuation (although some estate agents, especially online ones, will advertise their fees so you will know in advance).

Discerning (local) knowledge

Valuing a home is not an exact science and so it’s perfectly reasonable for different people to come to different conclusions about the right asking price for your property, although generally they’ll be within a fairly narrow range.

What is important is that an estate agent is prepared to explain to you, in plain English, how they arrived at their valuation and, where possible, give supporting evidence. In this day and age, it’s usually best to be very suspicious of anyone whose valuation is based on intangible concepts such as “experience”.

For the sake of completeness, experience can be an asset to an estate agent in the same way as it can be an asset to anyone else, however, a valuation should be based on hard facts if at all possible and unless your property is really unusual then it should be possible to find comparable sales in your area to use for guidance.

Customer service

Try asking your estate agent how they will go about marketing your property and also if they can give you some tips on preparing your home to be put on the market. If an estate agent is knowledgeable and values customer service, then they will be happy to do so. If they are not willing to give you at least some basic tips without you committing to a contract, then you might want to think long and hard about whether or not they’re someone you want to have on your side if you need help during a property sale.

If you found this article useful and you are considering selling your Manchester property then please contact our local area experts at Indlu who are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Alternatively, why not use our free online valuation tool to see how much your property is worth!

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