A guide to choosing the right estate agent

When the time comes to sell your home, how do you choose which estate agent to appoint? You have a tremendous choice of agencies and, on the surface, most appear to do more or less the same thing. But there is far more to moving than simply finding a buyer, and it is critical that when the time comes, you choose the right agent for you, your property and your situation.

A good starting point is to find an agent who clearly understands the stresses involved in moving and who accepts that you are likely to want to sell your home with minimal stress and for the most attractive figure the current market will pay within a convenient timescale.

Local Expertise

Buyers overwhelmingly prefer to work with local experts, whom they regard as "in the know". Location Location have operated in the area for almost 10 years, our directors have over 30 years combined experience in the local market. So choose a well-established local agent, and preferably one that has the backing of a national support network.

Valuation

Beware! It is well-known that some agents deliberately over-value in order to impress you to secure your instruction, so don’t fall into the trap of simply choosing the agent with the highest valuation. An inflated price attracts the wrong buyers to your property, and the right buyers never see it, resulting in the property going stale on the market This often leads to the properly falling below its true market value.

The issue of correct valuation is paramount It is critical that you appoint an agent who not only has a track record of successful sales in the area (not just properties on the market) but also has a thorough working knowledge of current buyer activity, and who can interpret prevailing market trends to your advantage.

Commission

Many sellers are unaware of the considerable differences between agencies and have no alternative than to decide whom to appoint on the level of commission charged. This is often a huge mistake and is a bit like buying a car purely on price considerations. All cars go from A to B, but the vast price differential is related to issues of quality, reliability, security, performance and the whole driving experience.

The same is true of estate agents. Some agents simply cannot afford to provide a level of service that is either effective, or makes the selling experience hassle-free. For example, they are often the last firms to provide adequate staff training or post-offer support resulting in missed offers, slower sales and lower prices. Cut- price estate agents usually require a higher turnover of stock in order to survive and they are therefore likely to be less concerned about securing the best price for their clients, The net amount in your pocket is surely more important than the percentage fee charged!

Communication

Too many agencies only communicate good news! That’s easyl Good agents are in frequent contact with their clients and have the guts to advise you if anything needs to be done to improve your chances of an impressive sale.

Enthusiasm

If an agent is not enthusiastic about your property - don’t instruct them. A positive approach to selling your home is essential if buyers are to be inspired into buying your home.

The Directors

Choose an agent that is owned and run by property professionals who are interested in your sale, rather than by people who are simply employed to build an empire. Could you get hold of a Director if you needed to? Location Location is personally run by its Directors. The Sales Director is Vicky Bibiris, whose telephone number is 0207 923 9222.

Viewings

Does the agent accompany all viewings? What about evenings and weekends? It is incredible that so few estate agents provide accompanied viewings. Apart from the obvious security issues, only when agents accompany buyers around a property can they probe, listen and understand what the buyer really wants. Agents who develop a picture of the buyers’ preferences, in addition to those few key ones that were registered, tend to have a much higher viewing/sale ratio and do not frustrate their clients with unsuitable viewers. (Our policy is to accompany all buyers around a property, and provide prompt and constructive feedback).

Professional Photography

High quality presentation is vital to sell your home. Most agents employ untrained staff to take their own photos. Location Location has found that using a professional photographer can increase the traffic to our website property details three-fold! More traffic means more potential buyers.

Floorplans

Good estate agents provide floorplans on their particulars. They are far more helpful and accurate than the flowery descriptions some agents still use, and buyers find them invaluable. Floorplans improve the quality of viewings because they weed out clearly unsuitable purchasers and can motivate those who might otherwise not have viewed your property.

Multimedia Window Displays

Most estate agents still use traditional window cards in their window displays, which seems archaic when the vibrancy of an eye-catching LCD display attracts attention and creates interest. If your home is to be exposed effectively, then you should insist that it appears frequently on a !arge format multimedia window display.

Sole Agency

Beware of agents who lock you in to long sole agency agreements. You may get stuck with an agent who has lost interest in your sale - and what does it say about their confidence in their abilities? (We believe that if you are unhappy with our service, you should have the right to fire us at any time - just give us a 24 hours notice!)

Lettings

When you are choosing a selling agent do make sure you choose one who also does lettings. Letting agents have long-term buy-to-let property investors permanently on their books who buy regularly. They know the agent and they make quick decisions and reliable offers. They prefer to buy through an agency that does lettings because it is easy for them to let out their new investment . Also, many tenants also register to buy. Good letting agents build strong relationships with their tenants and are in a good position to help them buy one of their own selling clients’ properties. It also means that should you decide to rent your properly out instead of selling it the same agent can handle both - whichever comes along first!

After-Sales Liaison

Some agents think the sale is done when a buyer is found, and some sales negotiators are incentivised to arrange sales, but not necessarily to see them through to completion. Many a sale has been lost due to poor follow-up or inadequate liaison with surveyors or solicitors. About 35% of sales arranged in England and Wales fall through (although far fewer than this in our case), So choose an agent that provides a dedicated sales progression service that employs people who are trained to spot potential difficulties long before they arise, and who spend 100% of their time working towards a successful outcome.

Internet

The Internet is a valuable tool in estate agency. But don’t be impressed by any “hit” claims. All web- enabled agents are exposed to many buyers, but how well do they qualify those buyers when it comes to discussing your home. It is very easy for a “buyer” to register a passing interest, it takes a well-trained agent to identify those buyers who have a serious and pressing need to move. Find out how easy it is for buyers to use the agent’s property search facility by visiting their website yourself. Is it impressive, state-of-the- art and does it provide useful buying and selling advice?

Property Portals

Over 80% of buyers use the internet when looking for a property. So you need to be sure that your property is found and promoted - quickly and easily. An agent might have a great website, and that’s fine, but do they subscribe to the most effective property portals, because this is how buyers are directed to your property when they search using the search engines such as Google, Ask Jeeves, Excite or Yahoo. Three of the UK’s market-leading sites are Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation. Good agents list their clients’ property on one of these, but very few list on all. But if you want maximum coverage leading to more buyers and therefore the chance to achieve the very highest price for your home, then you really should use an agent who subscribes to these major portals.

Choosing your Agent

Ultimately, you are best served by choosing a locally based agent who holds values similar to your own.

One who has time to listen; one who understands your needs and concerns; one who can offer real, straight-talking advice; one who takes pride in his/her integrity, combined with a passion for results.

Needless to say, Location Location not only fulfils, but also goes beyond many of the recommendations outlined here.

You owe it to yourself to make the right choice. So when the time comes to sell, choose wisely.

Choose: Location Location