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How to Choose the best Estate Agent to Sell your Home

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For most of us, our home is the most valuable asset we will ever own. It’s value is a large part of our personal wealth and it protection is normally high on our list of priorities. It makes sense then that when selling our home we should take time to carefully consider just who we trust to deal with the sale on our behalf. Because like so much else in life, not all estate agents are the same. This doesn’t necessarily mean that some estate agents are good and some are bad (although this is undoubtedly the case). Sometimes it’s just about getting the right people for your particular property. Other times it’s more personal than that. After all, when we buy and sell anything, it’s largely about the people we are dealing with, whether we know it or not – and when we are talking about trusting the sale of the most valuable asset we own, this is even more the case – or at least, it should be. It should go without saying that integrity and professionalism from all is expected and for the most part it is, especially if you choose to use an established agent that is regulated by the profession’s Ombudsman and is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. It’s always good to consider whose boards you see up in a local area and how many of them have ‘SOLD’ emblazoned upon them. Always a good sign! Ask around your friends. See who they have used and who they recommend. But always make sure you are not comparing oranges with apples. Do they own property of a similar type and value in your neighbourhood? If yes, it’s worth considering their views. If no, consider that the agent they used might have been great for them – but not so good for you. Local knowledge is critical. If you are selling a home in Bracknell it makes no sense to employ an agent based outside the area. One road in an area can be very different from another. In fact, one side of a street might command much greater demand than the opposite. School districts, local authority catchments, south facing or north facing gardens.. A local agent has probably bought and sold your home before (or your neighbours) and he or she will already have a list of applicants keen to be contacted when your home comes to the market. Let’s assume you have mentally shortlisted two local estate agents that seem to meet your criteria. They are both very active in your neighbourhood, they are based locally and they both seem to be successful in both marketing – and selling – property of a similar type. You now need to decide who to use. But first, make sure you are employing them on the same basis.

Consider the following;

1: Are you employing them as sole agents, agents with sole selling rights or joint agents? The difference is important and the cost implications might be significant.

2: How long will your agency agreement be for? How can you terminate it? How much will it cost in expenses during the term of the agreement?

3: Do you have to pay the agent anything before your home is sold? If you do, what are these costs? Most reputable agents will only charge you a commission upon the sale of your home. After all, that is what you are instructing them to do! Beware those that charge what seems like a lower sum but charge it up front, effectively as a listing fee. Why would you pay for a meal whether it is served to your table or not? Beware what seem to be low cost options that involve you paying up front for a service yet to be rendered. Buy cheap – pay twice as my grandmother used to say.

4: What additional expenses (such as advertising costs, production of sales particulars, professional photography, etc). Some costs are worth incurring, but make sure the costs are detailed in your agency agreement.

How Much will it Cost to Sell My House?

5: Who will be dealing with your property on a day to day basis? It’s important that the agent you instruct has a breadth of knowledge within the office. This usually means that you will have access to a negotiator and, if necessary, a partner of the firm. And it’s important that you trust the person you are dealing with. After all, they should be working on your behalf to facilitate the sale of your home on the very best terms possible – for you.

6: What will they be doing for their money? Marketing your property and securing a sale is only part of the role of a professional estate agent. The average sale of a private home will take at least 8 weeks to progress from agreeing terms to completion. That’s two full months, during which time all sorts of problems can arise. An experienced local agent will be able to guide you through the process and best protect you from possible hiccups.

7: How is the agent’s fee calculated? Most agents charge a commission based on a percentage of the sale price agreed. Some charge a fixed fee and others a combination of the two. More recently, there has also been a growth in fixed fees payable in full or in part immediately upon instruction. It’s worth noting that whilst a commission ensures that the agent is financially incentivised to achieve not only the best possible sale price for your home, but on the best sustainable terms that will proceed to completion! After all, he or she only gets paid when your home sells – and the more it sells for, the more commission the agents receives (as does the vendor). This incentive does not exist where you pay a listing fee up front, before the work has been done.

8: Finally, and by no means of least importance, you want to be assured that your agent knows the market and puts the correct value on your home. He also needs to have the local knowledge to be able to ascertain when a property is a particular location or of a particular type is much sought after and thus might demand a higher sale price. Saving £3,000 in fees is of little comfort if your agent under sells your home by £20,000 because of limited market knowledge! But most of all, trust your instincts. Speak to a few agents and ask the questions you need to ask to put your mind at rest. After all, a good agent’s primary objective is to protect her client’s interests at facilitate a seamless sale on the best terms achievable in the timeframe set by the client. At Duncan Yeardley we specialise in home sales in and around Bracknell. We’ve been doing it for 30 years and we’re here to help. Call us for an initial chat.

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