Choice is often seen as a good thing but if you have ever sat and flicked through the Netflix catalogue or any catch-up TV service, with endless pages of shows to choose from, you can attest to the fact that sometimes it can be overwhelming.
Go back just a few years and the number of estate agents in the marketplace was far smaller than it is now – coupled with that, there are now a new breed of ‘online’ or ‘hybrid’ agents, offering cheaper pay-up front models and utilising the internet to reduce overheads. With this choice comes a need to compare and contrast agents to help find the right one for your circumstances.
A number of sites exist that provide data on time to sell a property, how much of the asking price an agent sells a property for and how many properties they have sold in your area. But, how do you read this data? Do you want an agent that sells a property quickly or one that takes a little longer – does longer mean that an agent is finding the right buyer to ensure the sale doesn’t fall through, or does it mean they are slow to find a buyer? Equally, does a speedy sale mean an agent has taken the first offer they can or they have a book of buyers ready and waiting? Does an agent securing 105% of an asking price undervalue their property or does it mean they are skilled negotiators?
Relying on data leads to interpretation and doesn’t really help you to know which agent is going to help you secure a smooth and well-managed sale.
So, what can you do to compare agents? We believe the following points are the vital elements to help you compare estate agents.
You can use fees to ensure the agent you choose is within your preferred budget – but don’t discount those with a higher than average fee, they may just be able to secure you a higher offer. We would never advise choosing an agent on fees alone.
Online Property Portals
The large majority of buyers start their search online, with Rightmove being the first destination for most, followed by Zoopla. To ensure your property reaches the widest audience, your property should be listed on at least one of these portals. Almost every agent will list on Rightmove, but some will not list on Zoopla, instead listing on a third smaller portal ‘OnTheMarket’. If an agent lists on OnTheMarket, and not Zoopla, you may receive less online traffic.
Most local agents will include viewings as standard, giving their sales staff the chance to use their sales training to get you a good price and to gain honest feedback and interest. Online agents generally ask you to show buyers around, which means you can run viewings 24/7 if it suits you – you can often pay extra for this service. Whilst running viewings yourself can be convenient for some, if you’re at work it can be handy to have someone from an agent to show people around to ensure a buyer can view when it suits them, removing obstacles to help improve the chance of a sale.
When an agent sells your property they aren’t just selling the area within your boundary – they are selling the area, the amenities and the lifestyle the location can offer. No data can show you the understanding your agent has of the area – the only way to understand an agent’s level of knowledge about your area is to talk to them. Ask them to show you how many similar properties they have dealt with in the surrounding area, the sort of questions buyers have asked and the objections that have been raised in similar properties. Make sure they demonstrate their knowledge of amenities, travel links and the general perception of the area as well.
As technology develops, estate agents, especially those in bigger cities, are able to offer new ways to make your property stand out from the crowd. Whilst a lot of these are useful (3D walkthroughs and video tours), weigh up the extra cost and see if other properties in your area have sold without them.
Lastly and most importantly…
The agent you choose will work with you from the moment you meet for a valuation to the point at which they hand over the keys to your new property. Chemistry is critical – you need to trust the agent dealing with your sale, you need to be able to have open and honest conversations about the sale and you need to feel comfortable that the advice they give you (which can sometimes be contrary to your opinion) is correct. If this means paying a little more or a little less than you had planned to work with the right agent, it should improve the process for you.
Request a valuation visit from at least one local agent and one online agent – they will come to your property, give you their opinion of what they believe they can sell the property for and give you an opportunity to discuss all of the above and help you make an informed choice. Use netanagent.com to bring up a list of agents in your area, see their fees and what they can offer you and get in touch to start the process. If you need any advice, just send us an email.