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How to Choose an Agent in a Tougher Market

April 2019

Having a footing in both the Yorkshire and London markets, the current consensus I feel, is that the vast majority of buyers and sellers just want to get on with it. Yes there is continued hot-air being churned out on various fronts, however there are a strong number of transactions still taking place. Sure the market is mixed, but if you get some key agency cornerstones mastered, your sale will go with a bang!

Experience – as with any sector, there are always the rogues out there. Ensure your agent has earnt their time working at the agency coalface for a good number of years. Selling property is not the same as selling insurance. Check out your agent on Linkedin to get a true feel for their expertise.

Front of House Team – these key individuals should be your focus when choosing an agent, not the valuer pitching for your business. This team will be the first to speak with interested parties, so they need to be able to talk fluently, enthusiastically and knowledgeably about your home. It will mean you will be more likely to secure viewings and gives viewers confidence in the agent. Be sure to ask those at the front end to see your home themselves, before it goes on the market. If they’ve seen it, they can talk about it from a position of strength.

Viewings – beware of agents who ask you to conduct the majority of viewings. Not only is it lazy-agency, but it is not in your best interests. Showing potential buyers around a house is an art and the most experienced agents will know exactly what the viewers are looking for and will get the best out of them.

You the seller, should either make sure you’re not in, or at least are not hovering in the background. If you’re within earshot, then you will not get genuine feedback, which is extremely valuable.

Marketing – before you choose an agent, mystery shop them and always investigate their ‘marketing collateral’. Look through several brochures and check that they are well designed and presented, with outstanding photography, brief descriptions and floorplans. Are there many typos? Or are the descriptions all strikingly similar? If they show attention to detail, then it is likely the agent will too. Take a look at their presence on the web portals like Rightmove and On The Market. What about their social media activity?

Guide Price – a common tactic shown by less scrupulous agents in order to secure business is to suggest a guide price that has you planning your next holiday in the Bahamas. Well, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Buyers are very well researched nowadays. If the price is realistic, then you will get the interest. If not, you will be one of the many who languish in the market for too long, having to regularly reduce their price and your sale becomes stagnant. This creates a far greater problem, by unnecessarily adding to your digital footprint. Numerous websites record your market activity, which you can never delete, so do be aware. Critically, trust the agent who gives you a realistic asking price and never instruct an agent who just quotes the highest price.

Fees – another false economy is to strong-arm the agent into a low fee or go with a cheap agent. You might give yourself a high-five for securing a ‘better’ fee than anyone else, but ask yourself – if they are on a low fee, how incentivised will they be to put the effort in to selling your home?

The small percentage more that you might pay a better agent, is a drop in the ocean compared to the extra thousands they can secure you at the negotiation stage.

In today’s market, it is attention to detail, experience and length of service that pay dividends.