All Estate Agents Are The Same, Right?

All estate agents are the same, right?

Throughout my 17 years experience in this industry I find that the majority of sellers believe that statement. Mainly due to the fault of the estate agents themselves not getting across correctly why they are different (or in some cases because they aren’t different) from one another. But when they all boast they are on Rightmove, Zoopla etc etc they aren’t actually saying anything different either. So how are you meant to decide which agent to use?

Let me help..

It’s not about choosing the “best” estate agent, the cheapest or the most expensive or even the agent with the most properties in the window. It’s much more to do with choosing the right agent for you to work with. And there are many different ways this can happen.

One of the first things i’m going to point out is your agent is representing you and your property so really they are going to be an extension of you and how your property will be perceived.

If the estate agent is renowned for being a cheap estate agent would a buyer think that the house has also been maintained in a cheap way. Have cost saving corners also been cut in the property as well as the agent. I’m not saying don’t use a cheap agent but just think of how this impacts on a buyers view of you and your property. I would think it would put you on the back foot when it comes to negotiating an offer too. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and find the most expensive agent either. But you do need to find an agent that represents you and your home in the same light as you do.

This doesn’t stop at the agents fees either. How about their branding? Branding plays a huge part for an estate agent and the sad thing is that most of them don’t realise it. Which agent do you like the look of? Which would you like to be associated with? Which “for sale” board or ideally “Sold” board do you want to look at every morning when you open your curtains? Which company do you want your neighbours to know you are dealing with? We’d all love to have a Marks & Spencers van deliver our shopping wouldn’t we. It sounds silly but it matters. If you haven’t sold for a while you are more likely to contact an agent you like the look of – and so you should. An agent will spend much time and money in their branding to attract a specific client to them. So it’s more important than you think.

Ask friends and family if they have used an estate agent recently and ask what their experience was like. Referrals are usually a very reliable source of information. Especially if the property was similar to your own.

Go online and see which agents are selling properties similar to yours. There is no point using the services of an agent that specialises in million pound houses if you have a one bed flat to sell. You’ll find that each agent will focus on certain types of property that suit them and their branding.

Ask your favourite agent/s to value your home but here is the important part – go and see them. Although it is tempting to email or call these agents, you’ll get a much better sense of who they are and what they are like if you visit their offices to make the appointment. You are about to ask them to deal with what is probably your most valuable asset, so you want to know they are people you are likely to trust and get on with. When you go in, how do they respond to you? Do you feel welcome? Are they helpful? Is it a professional and friendly environment? If you feel comfortable, make the appointment. If not, it’s best to walk away.

Lets say you make your appointment and you have an agent coming out to see you. When they arrive you have to remeber one very important factor – They will probably already have an idea of how much your property is going to be worth before they get there (Unless your property is quite unique). The “Free Valuation” is simply to allow them to sell their services to you. Depending on how you view that it will either be a good thing or a bad thing but either way you can take advantage of their free service by asking your own questions. Ask them to explain how they intend to market your property to get the best possible price. It’s a common misconception that you should simply choose the agent that comes up with the highest price for the property. Although it’s flattering to be told your home is worth more than you imagined, there’s a lot more to selling a place than slapping a high price tag on it. And as I’ve written about already, this could end up costing you an average of £20,000.

Do you need three valuations? Well just type in to google that very quesion and they will all say yes. So i know i’m going against the grain here when I say this but I dont believe you do. And here’s why. You will probably have a good idea of how much your property is worth anyway, and so will the agent. If you put an agent under pressure or ask them to compete with other agents the focus will be taken away from you and become a competion to win your business over other agents. This is when inflated prices and empty promises start to happen. More on this later.

The two most common factors sellers go on when selecting an agents is “How much are they giving me for the property?” and “what is the selling fee?”. Firstly the agent isn’t giving you anything for your property, the buyer is. The second, have you asked what you are getting for the fee charged? £895 may sound like a bargain but if that is purley to list your property on the major property portals then it’s quite expensive. If they are charging you £2000 but include accompanied viewings, sales progression, professional photos, floor plans, eye catching property write up, epc, No-Sale No-Fee etc etc then that would seem quite cheap to me. more on that here

Let’s face it, most estate agents will list your property on Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket. This is where your buyers will come from. But finding a buyer isn’t the only job of the estate agent. Successfully getting it through to completion/moving day is the real hard work that most people don’t see and truthfully this is where the agents cost’s come in to play. It’s the hours of sitting in the office on the phones to all the parties involved including solicitors to make sure there are no hickups along the way and you have a smooth moving experience. I suppose it’s a little like a swan swimming across a river. All people see is a beautiful swan floating but what they don’t see are it’s feet peddling away like mad to make it all happen.