10 Things You Need to Know Before You Hire an Estate Agent
“”It’s critical that you make the right decision about who will handle what is probably the single largest financial investment you will ever make.””
Not all Estate Agents are the same. When you decide to seek the help of an Agent when selling or buying your home, you need some good information before you make any moves.
An Estate Agent can cost or make you thousands of pounds
Picking an Estate Agent is one of those critical issues that can cost or make you thousands of pounds. There are very specific questions you should be asking to ensure that you get the best representation for your needs. Some Agents may prefer that you don’t ask these questions, since the knowledge you’ll gain from their honest answers will give you a very good idea about what outcome you can expect from using them as an Estate Agent. And let’s face it – in estate agency, as in life – not all things are created equal.
Hiring an estate agent is just like any hiring process – with you on the boss’s side of the desk. It’s critical that you make the right decision about who will handle what since this is probably the single largest financial investment you will ever make.
1. “What makes you different? Why should I list my home with you?”
It’s a much tougher property market than it was a decade ago. What unique marketing plans and services does this Agent have in place to make sure that your home stands out favourably versus other competing homes? What things does this Estate Agent offer you that others don’t to help you sell your home in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle and for the most amount of money?
2. “What is your company’s track record and reputation in the market place?”
It may seem like everywhere you look, Estate Agents are boasting about being No. 1 for this or that, or quoting you the number of homes they’ve sold. If you’re like many homeowners, you’ve probably become immune to much of this information. After all, you ask, “”Why should I care about how many homes one Agent sold over another. The only thing I care about is whether they can sell my home quickly for the most amount of money.””
Well, because you want your home sold fast and for the best possible price, you should be asking the Agents you interview how many homes they have sold. I’m sure you will agree that success in Estate Agency is selling homes. If one agent is selling a lot of homes where another is selling only a handful, ask yourself why this might be? What things are these two Estate Agents doing differently?
3. “What are your marketing plans for my home?”
How much money does this Estate Agent spend in marketing and advertising the homes he/she lists versus the other Agents you are interviewing? In what media (online, newspaper, magazine, Radio, TV etc.) does this Agent advertise? What does she/he know about the effectiveness of one medium over the other?
4. “What has your company sold in my area?”
Agents should bring you a complete listing of both their own, and other comparable sales in your area.
Prospective agents will give you a sale price they think they can get for your property. The most important follow-up question to ask is, “What are you basing that on?” They should be able to support their conclusion with recent sales in your area of similar properties – both from their Estate Agency and others.
Make sure they can support the suggested sale price with evidence – you don’t want to fall for the trap of securing the agent who simply says they can get the best price for you.
5. “How long have you been an Estate Agent for?”
In this industry, experience counts. But that doesn’t mean the Estate Agent with the most experience is the best choice by default. You’re looking for someone who’s experienced enough to handle all aspects of the sale, but who’s also enthusiastic and motivated enough to secure a buyer for you.
6. “On average, when your listings sell, how close is the selling price to the asking price?”
This information is available from the many property portals and the Land Registry. Is this Agent’s performance higher or lower than the average? Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how high a price you will get for the sale of your home.
7. “On average, how long does it take for your listings to sell?”
This information is also available from the many property portals and the Land Registry. Does this Agent tend to sell faster or slower than the local average? Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how long your home will be on the market before it sells.
8. “How many Buyers are you currently working with?”
Obviously, the more buyers your Agent is working with, the better your chances are of selling your home quickly. It will also impact price because an Estate Agent with many buyers can set up an auction-like atmosphere where many buyers bid on your home at the same time. Ask them to describe the proactive system they have for attracting buyers.
9. “Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact and are your fees negotiable?”
Ask to see this list, and then proceed to spot check some of the names.
Some examples of questions to ask previous references are:
- What did you like about this Estate Agent?
- How long did the property take to sell?
- Was there anything you thought they could have done better?
- Did the Agent secure the sale price you wanted to achieve?
And you are not looking for the cheapest Estate Agent. You are interested in what their fees include. You’re also looking for a good negotiator (a good Estate Agent will be able to confidently justify their price).
10. “What happens if I’m not happy with the job you are doing to get my home sold?”
Can I cancel my listing contract? Be wary of Estate Agents that lock you into a lengthy listing contract where they can get out of (by ceasing to effectively market your home) but you can’t. There are usually penalties and contractual protection periods which safeguard the Agent’s interests, but not yours. How confident is your Estate Agent in the service she/he will provide you? Will they allow you to cancel your contract without penalty if you’re not satisfied with the service provided?
Evaluate each Estate Agent’s responses to these 10 questions carefully and objectively. Who will do the best job for you? These questions will help you decide.