How To Choose An Estate Agent That Wont Drive You Crazy!

Date Published 23 January 2015

How to choose an estate agent who won't drive you crazy according to a recent article in the Daily Telegraph on the 18 January 2015.

Picking the right estate agent to market your home can make a difference, not only to the price, but to the experience. Most Brits have little faith in their agent, but good ones can be found.

Estate agents can seem about as popular with the British public as traffic wardens. Yet, a good agent who understands the market is worth their weight in gold when selling a property.

Many of us approach selling our homes with the same trepidation we'd feel if we had to organise three back-to-back weddings and a company takeover. The list of what can go wrong is daunting – offers are withdrawn; valuations fail; leaseholds become a minefield; contracts get delayed; surveys scupper a deal; and emotions fray.

There are plenty of good agents out there. It's just a case of knowing what you should be looking for.
It's also worth viewing agents' websites from a buyer's point of view, says Simon Gerrard, President of the National Association of Estate Agents.

'How easy is the website to use for buyers? Consider how they present property to attract buyers, such as the quality of pictures and floor plans and if they make use of videos.'

Another important aspect is how many potential buyers they can put your property in front of. 'You should look at what web portals the agent is on,' says Gerrard. 'The better agents will apply search engine optimisation of their own website and the properties advertised on it.'

Experts agree it is crucial to get a marketing appraisal for your home from at least three estate agents before picking one. The big mistake, however, is to be seduced by a high valuation. Homeowners Alliance recommends picking an agent you are impressed by and who has given a low valuation, reasoning that you can always nudge it up. It warns that a bad agent will start with a high price and then try to talk you down once you have appointed them.

Gerrard agrees: 'It is essential that the right asking price is set. Pitch it too high and you will lose the all-important initial impact, which could lead to your property sitting on the market months and eventually selling for less.'

The question is, though, how do you know whether your agent is setting a fair price?
One way is to do your own research by trawling internet sites such as Rightmove and onthemarket for comparable properties in your area.

The other way is to find an agent with local market knowledge, a recognisable quality brand, prominent high-street office and good local reputation. And beware agents who simply employ people on commission to get listings because they are more likely to overvalue, forcing you to reduce the price later.

Open house or individual appointments?

Opinions on whether an open house is worthwhile are divided. Vendors with families find them more convenient and like to generate a 'fight' for their property. Agents are more circumspect, believing that they can have an adverse effect in a depressed market, particularly if they don't sell and have to be re-advertised.

'The downside of an open house is that it can be intimidating for house-hunters to view with 20 other people. 'If it goes to best offer, people can have second thoughts. The fevered buying climate created by open houses can be counterproductive. If you view as individuals, buyers have more time to think about things and make a more informed offer that is likely to go through to fruition.'
Similarly, if the process takes too long, your agent needs to be on the case. 'A decent agent should know that a high-street lender would book a survey within a couple of weeks and the solicitors should have been instructed,'

'If not, we become suspicious. A good agent uses their instinct, knowledge and experience and would be checking.'

The Checklist:

- Look for a company with experience and a high profile in your area
- Look to see whether the staff live locally and how long the company has been trading
- Check how they present and market other properties
- Consider posing as a buyer to find out how they treat you and whether they have the Client's interests at heart
- Ask whether they accompany viewers
- Check the fee covers all marketing costs
- Use a qualified agent, regulated by a body such as the NAEA; Guild of Professional Estate Agents or Property Ombudsman