Choosing the right agent in 2022 – Why it really matters.
Speak to any seasoned Estate Agent, property professional or market pundit and they will all tell you, there has rarely been a property market like this, just take a look at some of the reports here.
With property prices rising at lightning-fast past, stock levels at there lowest for several years and inflation, interest rates and the cost of living creeping upwards, it takes a great level of skill to navigate the selling process.
‘But surely in this market properties are selling easily!’ We hear you cry, and, yes, to some degree, we are firmly in a sellers’ market.
But finding someone willing to make you an offer to buy your home is only half the story (Actually, it’s more like a third of the story!)
Once a potential buyer is found, the hard work behind the scenes really begins. Funds have to be checked and verified, chains will need to be pieced together and carefully managed, solicitors will need to be chased, cajoled and hurried up where necessary, surveys will need to be checked, double checked and works may need to be arranged to fix any issues that might arise as a result. Offers might need renegotiating and, if the worse happens and someone in a chain of movers can’t find a property or loses a buyer, everyone’s move could be delayed or fall through, with out professional and expert management, it really can be a stressful process!
In a market with less stock available and more people wanting to move than ever before, incomplete and failing chains can become commonplace. But…and it is a big but, you can stack the deck in your favour…by choosing the right agent to work for you.
From online agents to those purporting to do the job for free, it might seem a daunting task to try and work out which agent is the best one for you. Fees can seem cheaper with one agent at the outset but end up costing you dearly in the long run and it’s important to remember that cheap isn’t necessarily best.
With this in mind, we have put together a brief rundown of 8 Questions to ask an agent before you put pen to paper…
How Long Will I Be Tied into A Contract For?
Some agents will “tie” you into long contracts meaning that you’re stuck with them for months, even if the service doesn’t live up to be everything they promised. Beware of long “tie-ins” and question the motive of the agent and the confidence they have in their own service if this is presented to you.
Will I Be Charged If I Take My Property Off the Market?
Make sure you fully understand any withdrawal fees from the estate agent. Some agents will charge you for taking your property off the market during the initial contract period. Others will charge you if you take the property off the market at any time, even after the agreement has expired.
Will I Be Charged Even If You Can’t Sell My Property?
Some agents charge their fees “up-front” or tie you in to finance agreements – which are non-refundable, or, in some cases, offer money back guarantees if you don’t sell, what they don’t tell you is with the small print, it might well be difficult to get any money back! All of this means that the agent gets paid regardless of whether they sell your property or not. Are you comfortable with paying for a result that’s not guaranteed? If the agent is paid at the beginning of the process, how motivated will they be to actually sell your property, and, if the worst should happen and a chain breaks down through no fault of your own, will you still get charged, even though you haven’t actually completed your move?
Do you Charge Additional Fees for Certain Services?
Agents can often suggest that they don’t charge you a fee to sell your home, but is this actually correct? If they don’t charge you a fee for selling, do they charge a fee, or several fees, for ‘additional services’ that another agent will include as standard? And, if they don’t make their fees from selling properties, where do they make it from? Sometimes, once you add up additional costs, a ‘free’ service can be more expensive than an all-inclusive one.
Do You Have Evidence to Support Your Valuation?
A good estate agent will provide you with plenty of well-researched comparable evidence to support the valuation of your property. Ultimately, it is the price of similar local properties that have recently sold which will dictate the price you can achieve for your own. If your agent presents you with a surprisingly high valuation and cannot provide evidence to support it, they may have an ulterior motive that is not in your best interest.
What Other Properties Have You Sold Locally?
Whilst not essential, an agent having already successfully sold properties in your area is a great indication that they’ll be able to do the same for you. It means that your agent most likely has excellent local knowledge, is in regular contact with people who are looking to buy locally and may have other similar properties available with which they can cross-sell your own property. There’s much more to getting a great price than just sticking your property online and waiting for someone to find it. Plus, in a market such as this, being with an agent who is very active in the area, might come in very useful if you are also looking to buy.
What Happens Once the Sale Is Instructed to Solicitors?
As the conveyancing process continues to get more complicated, it is imperative that you have someone looking after your sale once it has been instructed to Solicitors. This means choosing the right agent. Try to make sure you choose someone who you know liaises with buyers, agents, Solicitors and brokers on your behalf, pushing all the way to exchange and completion is an essential part of the service, and you may find yourself lost without it.
Will I Be Penalised for Using My Own Solicitors?
Before putting pen to paper on an agency agreement, always make sure you’ve read the small print. Some agents will charge you for not using their recommended Solicitors once your property is sold, which can be expensive and is not always made totally clear at the outset.
Ultimately, choosing the right agent for you can be a very personal thing and even though we have outlined a few things to consider, the biggest thing of all is trust. Do I trust these people to do their best for me? Whilst reviews can certainly help to show that the agent in question is seen as trustworthy by other customers, one other place to look is on social media. If you find an online advert for an agent on social media, or you are thinking of using one you haven’t seen much about before, just scroll down on the comments section of the adverts, it can be a gold mine of information!
If you need any help or advice about selling, buying, finding a tenant, or renting a property, just get in touch with your local Hannells branch, you can find us by clicking here.