Estate agents are an integral part of the property exchange process. While they do not receive the best press the majority of agents out there work hard to provide a great service for their clients. Choosing from the myriad of estate agents out there however can be difficult, it is hoped that the following article, detailing some of the key questions that should be put to an agent will help homeowners to find the best service.
The first and most important question to ask an agent is the price they are likely to charge. Rates between agencies vary greatly although generally the rate is normally around three percent of the eventual sale price. While prices will vary, in most cases it is usually worth paying that little extra for a better service. For instance, securing an extremely cheap price may result in the agent putting less effort into the sale of a property.
The next question to put to estate agents is whether they are a member of any of the industry's regulating bodies. These bodies in the UK are the NAEA or the National Association of Estate Agents and the OEA (Ombudsman for Estate Agents). It is important to realise however that membership of these bodies is not compulsory, meaning that anyone can start an agency. By ensuring the agency chosen is a member of either of these gives some form of guarantee that they will comply with the codes of practise for the industry.
The third question is concerned with the viewings of a property. Some homeowners will want to show potential buyers around their home as they will feel they are able to show off its best features most effectively. While this may be preferable, finding the time to do this can be difficult, research has also shown that agents are better equipped to sell properties, after all they are the experts. Finding a balance between the two should bring the best results.
Another question that can be put to an estate agent is to give an idea of the prices of similar properties in the area. A good agent will be able to answer this question succinctly, giving an answer that is knowledgeable. While this question may seem relatively straight forward it is a way of assessing the effectiveness and experience of an agent.
A vital question to ask agents is how they will plan to market a property. The majority will utilise online property portals as these get the highest levels of interest from buyers although methods such as the shop window advert and listings in the local press cannot be underestimated. At this stage it is also worth asking how the marketing literature will be structured. In the majority of cases it will include photographs of the property's best features and well written, concise prose.
In the early stages it is also important to assess the levels of sales that the agent experiences. This question should also include an element of the success rate of sales, research has shown that as much as eighteen percent of sales fail, if the rate is higher for the particular agent, another service may be preferable.
Finally it is important to understand completely how often the agent will contact the homeowner. Additionally the methods of communication should be detailed; if the agent plans to contact the homeowner by email and they have no internet access, there is little point in using this method of communication. Communication is a key element in the property selling process and should always be a major consideration.
Hopefully this information has given homeowners sound advice on how to choose a service from the large number of estate agents out there. Selling property is stressful enough so understandably having a great service can make this process easier and more efficient.
Property expert Thomas Pretty looks the services provided by estate agents and advises consumers on how to find the best deal.