5 tips for finding the best estate or letting agent
Posted on Mon, 09 Nov 2015 by Mal McCallion | 0 comments
How do you find the best estate or letting agent for you? Knowing the answer could make you thousands extra on the sale or let of your home.
Choose your agent wisely
It always amazes me how many sellers and landlords assume that the key differential between agents is something like their fee rates. Or how smart someone looks when they meet to discuss representing them in the sale or let of their home. These things make a difference, of course, but this transaction – selling or letting your home – is so important that something more than a rudimentary assessment of an agent’s willingness to hack into their charges, or the quality of their hair product, is absolutely necessary.
Here are 5 simple tips to help you make sure you choose the right agent for you;
1. Previous success
There are plenty of great sources of information regarding agents’ performance, from the number of properties they advertise on Rightmove, Zoopla or OnTheMarket to reviews right here on raterAgent. Make sure that you research well, click those links through to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and see for yourself what they’re really like as an agency. And, armed with these insights, when the agent comes round, ask them for specific examples of their sale or let of properties just like yours. Be curious and check that what they say is true too – a quick visit to the property that they’ve mentioned, to confirm what the agent’s like from that recent buyer or tenant, can give you an invaluable insight into the real service you and your future buyer/tenant is going to get.
2. Local knowledge
An easy way to understand how good your prospective agent will be in selling or letting your home is to ask the questions that your buyers or tenants will. You may know that the local school is outstanding but does your agent? Do they know the best restaurant locally or how long it takes to walk to the station? These are things that people wanting to live in your home will ask and, if the agent isn’t across this information, they’re unlikely to attract the most buyers or tenants. And that means that you’re not going to get the best price, because competition for your home will be reduced. So don’t avoid the hard questions and put your agent on the spot – your keenest buyers and tenants will.
3. Value for money
Note that this isn’t the same as being the cheapest. Ask yourself this – if I pay £1,500 less in charges but get £10,000 less for my property, is that where I want this one-off transaction to end up? There are many examples of how cheap can sometimes be great – but many more where ‘you get what you pay for’. This is not a transaction to be purely focused on the amount of money that you can save. Beware the false economy of paying a low fee upfront – that cost is there whether the property sells or not – and be mindful that what you pay can affect how much the agent can spend marketing your property. Negotiate on the fee, absolutely – but is an agent that rolls over and gives you a very, very low rate going to be the best in negotiating on your behalf when the buyer starts to haggle hard too?
4. Speed of transaction
Once the deal is agreed and the admin starts in earnest, how can you make sure that the agent is going to drive it through to completion in the timescales that suit you? Again, that upfront fee might be a problem here – you need an ‘on completion’ fee to ensure that your agent’s interests (getting paid) are aligned with yours (completing the transaction). Again, reviews are crucial in understanding any problems that agents have in doing this. But be wary – only use a site that is visibly committed to weeding out fakes, like raterAgent. Unscrupulous agents are wise to the value in generating false reviews and, frankly, the rubbish ones tend to have the most time on their hands to try and work out how to ‘game’ sites. raterAgent has a ‘triple-lock’ series of checks on every review that is submitted to the site, which has caught 1 in 6 submissions as being a fake. And if that many are coming in to raterAgent – a site that is proactive in checking and writes back to fakers to warn them they’ve been busted – you can only imagine how many fakes are going in to sites that do not do the same.
5. Quality of staff
This isn’t a solo effort. The agent has a team behind him or her that will help to make sure that your messages get through, the buyer or tenant is kept in the loop regarding where the transaction has gotten to and to do the admin to get the deal complete. Ask the agent directly how long their team has been together, check reviews of the staff members and phone them up and leave a couple of messages, rather than emailing in. Sample the agent’s quality of service for yourself and you’ll know whether this is the right estate agent for you.
Finding the right letting or estate agent to sell or let your home is one of the most important decisions that you'll ever make. Do your research, challenge the agent to prove their claims and make sure that you maximise the return on that crucial transaction.