The two reasons for choosing an estate agent you must avoid

Our Director, Jan von Draczek, explains what you need to think about when choosing an estate agent, to include two factors you must avoid.

We understand that everybody is tightening their belts a bit more with soaring energy bills and mortgage rates – of course, we are too. However, in some instances, for example when choosing an estate agent, it’s really important to consider other aspects other than financial ones, because it could end up costing you more in the long run. 

All too often I hear of the same two reasons some sellers choose an estate agent… ‘they have the lowest fees’ or‘they valued my home the highest.’ However the reality is, choosing an estate agent based on just these factors is almost a disaster waiting to happen, ie most homes being advertised via these estate agents struggle to sell, or do so below what they are actually worth. Why?

In today’s market especially, sellers really must focus on how good an estate agent is at their job. How likely are they going to secure you a fast sale for the best possible price? I can honestly say after over 35 years of working in the property industry, that most low fee agents are cheap for a reason, and the reason why you’re probably being offered too high a price is because that agent has a ‘new instruction’ target to meet, so needs your business. Often these agents are not even selling in your price bracket and therefore they don’t have proved trach record and / or experience selling homes like yours. Sadly, it’s only once a property has launched that the cracks begin to show and by that point, the damage has already been done. Questions and concerns start to arise from sellers, such as: Where are the enquiries? Why are people making really low offers?

There are two main reasons why this happening… either the price is too high, the marketing isn’t suitable – or it’s both. Now of course, this often depends on the type of property you are trying to sell. For example, if you’re selling a little buy to let where there is no emotional attachment from the buyer ie a landlord, then you don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles. They just want to know the rental figures. However, if you own a really lovely looking house with oodles of land for example, you want sophisticated presentation. If you are selling a grand country house which looks a bit of a wreck inside because it offers a huge renovation opportunity, you will still need professional presentation to present all the possibilities and opportunities. No matter what a house looks like, every home is unique, and the more attractive and rare it is, the more likely it will need a superior bespoke marketing strategy to stand out from the crowd and attract as much interest as possible. This includes things like having exquisite brochures made, vendor interviews, professional photography, lifestyle videos and property styling to name a few.

Professional photographs ensure this stunning Georgian house in Moulton Eaugate looks amazing

You’ll also need somebody placing your home in front of the eyes of applicable buyers. I don’t mean just launching on the property portals and hoping somebody picks up the phone… this is about having somebody on board who has a good book of registered buyers they can call up, and somebody who has access to local buying agents who have proceedable cash buyers raring to go. Other avenues include mail outs, social media and national PR. You need every suitable channel explored to tell the lucrative London, national and international markets that your home is for sale.

You also need an honest agent who knows the local market like the back of their hand, as that is the only way you are going to get the price right from the offset. Buyers are more cautious than they were just a few months ago, so you need to make sure you do not overprice. If you do, you seriously risk going stale on the portals where you may not be able to sell at all or if you do, it could be at a lower price than if it was right from the start. 

Staying on the market for too long can also mean missing out on potential houses to buy because you haven’t sold yet, or your mortgage rate may increase during that time. Whilst for those looking to downsize to reduce their cost of living expenditure such as energy bills or travel costs by being closer to work or schools, these are expenses you will still have to endure whilst you try and sell. All too often I have seen properties still for sale 12-18 months later, having gone to market at too high a price. 

My advice is trust what a good estate agent advises, even if the valuation is lower than what you were hoping for, and get at least three different valuations to give you an idea of what your home is actually worth. There is a very short window from when you launch to when things can go stale… 

And the icing on the cake? You want somebody who is excellent at negotiation, and can also help get the sale through as quickly and as efficiently as possible. These two elements are where the value really lies for the higher fee agents.

This gorgeous home in Longthorpe Green looks beautiful with twilight photography

The best estate agents are the one’s doing all of the above. They tend not to be the ones who are charging you the lowest fee or giving you the highest valuation… So when choosing your next estate agent, these questions should be on your list:

  1. How will you be proactively finding me a buyer? 
  2. What do your brochures look like? 
  3. Do you work with local buying agents?
  4. Do you use a professional photographer?
  5. What marketing tools do you use to promote your homes? National PR is without a doubt one of the best ways to secure widespread exposure of your home. 
  6. How much experience do you have selling my type of home? Please can you show me examples? 
  7. How long have you specialised in the local property market?
  8. What do your fees include? 
  9. Ask your agent about their fee structure. For example, we offer a structured fee or a performance related fee

In summary

It can be very tempting to choose your estate agent based on who is charging the lowest fee or offering you the highest price, but you really do ‘get what you pay for’ in the property industry. Any agent can sell a house, but a skilled one will be able to attractive plenty of interest quickly, negotiate and sell for a high price due to a combination of in-depth local market knowledge and a good marketing strategy which ensures sophisticated presentation.

Find out more 

To find out more about how Fine & Country can market your home, contact our Rutland, Stamford & South Lincolnshire office on 01780 750 200 or the Oundle and North Northamptonshire office on 01832 808 008.

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