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How to compare estate agents?

Helpful advice   |   Thinking of Selling   |   November 25, 2021   |   Liz

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So you have decided to move home.  This is an exciting new chapter of your life and you want to get on with it.  But first you need to sell your home, to do that you need to select an estate agent. With so many agents out there, all eager for your business, you may well be wondering, how to compare estate agents?

There are many ways to compare agents, but they are all based on the idea that you are comparing like for like.  The truth is that agents can vary wildly, in terms of  marketing your home, results, customer service and of course, fees.  The best way to research and compare agents is to use a selection of the options listed below, make a shortlist and invite two or three agents out to value your home and select the one that you believe is best placed to sell your home.  We will come back to the valuation process later on.

How to find an estate agent near me?

Just because you live in any given area it doesn’t mean you’ll have heard of the best estate agents locally. Gone are the days of the typical estate agent with a shop front on your local high street.  Many now work from home, out of offices, or are 100% online.  So before you compare agents, you need to find out who is performing well in your local market.  There are a couple of ways in which you can do this:

Ask around

Without a shadow of a doubt, asking friends and neighbours in your local community is the best place to start when looking for an estate agent.  Chances are, most people you talk to will have either used an agent or will know someone that has.  Ask them for a recommendation and for tips as to what they would have done differently when they sold. It’s also worth asking on social media.  This will certainly give you a sense of which agents are respected locally (and probably which ones are not)

Do a board count

The majority of homes that come up for sale will have a board outside saying they are on the market.  Visit local streets with properties that are comparable to yours.  Count up the sold board (don’t include the for sale ones, you are looking for an agent that can sell your home, not win your listing).  Which estate agents have the most sold boards?

Online comparison tools

Type into Google “How to compare estate agents?” and you will find ad after ad for online agent comparisons tools.  These are great to use and give you an idea of how agents in your area are performing. However, this shouldn’t be taken literally. These comparisons services need to pay for themselves.  Their main service is to direct business to an estate agent in order to get a share of the agents fee.  In addition, some comparison sites charge estate agent to be on them, so you may not get a true picture of how agents perform locally.

How to compare estate agents on my shortlist?

Now you have a shortlist of agents, it’s time to invite them out to value your home and listen to their pitch for your business.  Before you do, it’s probably a good idea to understand some of the key points that agents will raise during their visit.

How an agent will sell your home

This is a tricky one, and probably the one that you will find the most trickiest to navigate through.  As any agent that turns up to value your house will want to tell you how they sell faster, higher, better and cheaper (!) Than any other competitor and will probably come armed with a wealth of documented proof to show you.  Unless you have a masters degree in statistics, these probably are not where you should be focusing your attention.

Portals

Up until the last few years, it was generally accepted by both the public and by agents that portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla, On The Market, etc.  Mattered in the property market.  The wealth of new portals that have been added to the list would at first glance appear to confirm this.  So agents valuing your property will tell you that they are listed on all the major portals. And they should be.

However, this is not the whole story, especially in a market that is as hot and fast paced as it is in Kent right now.  And the market is showing no sign of slowing anytime soon.

So rather than asking the question, “which portals are you listed on?”  you need to ask the question “How do you market my home before it is listed online?”

Pre-qualifying buyers

This is very important.  You don’t want to waste time and energy getting your house ready for multiple viewing only to discover they aren’t able to make an offer. It may be they have a house to sell, they don’t have a mortgage in place or worst still, they just like having a look round houses at the weekend.  Ensure that any agent you are considering using is able to explain how the pre-qualify potential buyers.  This is especially relevant now, as we adapt to living with Covid-19.

High Valuations

You may find that one agent values your home much higher than the others.  This can be very flattering. It could mean that you may be able to buy something better than you had hoped.  But beware, ask the agent how they have arrived at that figure.  Ask also for examples of comparable houses that have sold for this kind of money.  Sadly, some agents will value your property at the top end just to get your business, as they are targeted for bonuses based on the amount of homes they list, not sell.

Low Fees

We all want a bargain, but a lower fee doesn’t mean that you are necessarily getting a bargain.  An estate agents job, is to negotiate with both the buyers and the sellers to get the best possible price for you home, in the current market conditions.  If an agent is prepared to drop their fees (and reduce their income) to win you business. Can you be sure that they are doing to work hard to negotiate the best price on your property sale?

Who will progress my sale?

Currently in the UK, one in three (33%) of house sales fall through.  There are a number of reasons for this. One of the best ways to keep your sale on track is by having an experience sales progressor in house. Very often this important part of the sales process is either passed to a central call centre outside of the local agent’s branch. Or outsourced to a separate company, where the agent has little control.

We’ve also put together a list of questions to ask your estate agent, which you may find useful here

Securing Sales

Once you have agreed an offer on your home, we recommend having a reservation agreement in place, that allows buyers and sellers to commit to each other and make sure the sale is safe and less likely to fall through.

Contact terms

Don’t forget to as how long the contract period is. This is a very important part of how to compare estate agents.  Agents that are confident they can sell your home with not tie you into, long contract periods.  With properties selling so quickly. Contract lengths of 4-6 weeks should be more than enough time for you to find a buyer and agree an offer.

Why you should consider Harrisons Homes

Harrisons Homes have recently been awarded Gold and the title of Best Estate Agent (Sales) in Kent. By the prestigious ESTAS awards, due to our outstanding customer feedback. If you would like to know more about us, or why we believe we are the best placed agent locally to sell your home. Please call our team on 01795 474848

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