Just as you wouldn’t buy the first home you step foot in, neither should you necessarily instruct the first estate agent who contacts you. It’s important to compare estate agents before buying or selling a property in order to ensure you’re choosing the right agency for the job. Here are some tips on what to look out for when comparing estate agents.
Commission and Fees
Most estate agents charge a percentage fee, usually between 0.75% and 3%, depending on the price of the property. If possible, you should try and negotiate the agent’s commission to no more than 1% plus VAT, especially if the property you wish to buy is valued for over £500,000. Estate agents are often prepared to accept lower commission fees in such cases.
By obtaining all the facts and figures from a shortlist of estate agents, you will feel more secure when it comes to choosing the right agent. Those with a record of high sales figures are more likely to succeed in selling your property for a good price; however, figures on paper alone aren’t enough to decide which agent to choose. In addition to assessing the sales data, you should also ask the agents how many sales they’ve had in the past 6 months, the average listing time of their properties, and the difference in the asking price with the final purchase price. This will give you a good idea about the agents’ negotiation skills.
Tip: ask the agents you’re comparing for a free, no-obligation valuation of your property. Beware if they provide you with inflated figures as could be a sign that they are simply trying to land you as a customer.
How an estate agent plans to market your property should certainly influence your choice of agency. Get to know the approaches they use to market your home by asking them which portals they will be advertising on. Some of the best-known property portals include Zoopla, Primelocation, and Rightmove.
You should also find out whether the agents will be listing your property in local newspapers or magazines, and for how long they will be featuring your property in their agency’s window.
The agents’ availability is another important deciding factor. You wouldn’t choose an estate agent who doesn’t have any property listings or one without experience, but agents who are overloaded with lots of clients won’t be able to devote their time to you either. It’s therefore important to ask them whether they work full or part-time, how many properties they currently have for sale, and whether you’ll be dealing directly with them or their team members.
Narrow down your list
By shortlisting the best estate agents, you can evaluate a handful of them by taking your comparison task to the next level. Refer to the following list of dos and don’ts to help you decide better.
- Ask for recommendations from colleagues, friends, and family.
- Compare agents based on hard facts, such as how quickly they sell properties and how successful they are in negotiating the final price.
- Check the listed properties that are for sale by the agents are similar to yours and assess how presentable and descriptive they are on online portals.
- Feel pressured to sign a contract with the same agent you purchased your home from. You might find a more competent agent a little further away from your area.
- Be fooled into thinking the highest valuation price from an agent is going to be the final price you obtain as over-inflated asking prices can often deter potential buyers.
What About online estate agents?
Online estate agents tend to be less expensive than high street agents, however, it’s worth bearing in mind that the cheaper fixed fee must be paid upfront and the range of packages offered will differ from one online agent to another. These upfront flat fees can start from £300 and some online agents will also ask for a completion fee. If you want your estate agent to conduct viewings while you’re not home, you’ll need to pay extra for this service.
Online estate agents tend to use the same marketing strategies as high street agents, which is to market your home online on reputable websites. Some will also list your home in national newspapers. But before you choose the right estate agent, it’s best to ask them to value your home first in order to get a good idea of their marketing techniques.
The above tips should minimise the time and energy you spend on appointing the right agent to actively market your home and negotiate the best price with buyers.