There are a lot of misconceptions about what an estate agent should actually do for you, I am here to (hopefully) clear a few things up for you.
When you hire an estate agent, you are employing an expert to market your home to find a successful buyer. You are paying for the marketing, the information, the negotiation, and the after-care assistance.
There are a lot of differences between the online estate agents model vs the high street estate agency model.
Now albeit some agents differ from others, I am going to outline what you ‘should’ in theory be getting for your money.
Please note that unless you receive any upfront services that you must pay for as an addition to the commission of an agency, then you are basically paying for nothing upfront, many people think what an agency charge is quite expensive, however, there are plenty of different models out there where you pay upfront and you part ways with your money regardless of whether your property sells or not then you risk losing the money, both models work for different people in different situations.
Again, this is a personal choice, and I don’t have an opinion, as to what model you choose to use. Please do your own research and read your own reviews on these subject matters to make the right choice.
Pricing the property
In my opinion, an agents job is to give the owner an ‘honest’ price. Notice, the word honest does not necessarily mean the marketing price of the property. Most (not all) owners want as much as they can get for their property and will try for a much higher price than what the agents have valued the property for....
This is not wrong but if the property is overpriced, it is not necessarily the agents who have overpriced the property. Now, the reason why you initially bought your property is probably that you fell in love with it and you believe it is a great house, it becomes a part of who you are and your family, and you wouldn’t devalue that. Of course, as an owner, there is no crime in trying to achieve what you believe it’s worth, even if it is on the high side. After all, someone might bite at it, and it could be just what someone else is looking for. This is the ideal situation for both the agent and owner!
However, a good, skilled, and trained agent should be ‘tactfully’ telling the owner a truthful price but also agreeing with the owner as to how they want to go about marketing the property too, even if it is a tad on the higher side.
Although an agent’s role is to be truthful with the owner, they also need to gain instructions so sometimes will agree with the owners way of thinking to not ‘lose’ the instruction, remember that they are also in the line of business and need to align with the seller to achieve their business.
However, if they have tried and tested the market for 2-4 weeks and the property is not selling at the price agreed, then there should be a discussion about the pricing strategy.
Before this though, the agent should be looking at the number of enquiries received, current viewing levels, the photos of the property and where they are advertising to make sure they are doing a good job prior to price. However, usually, it is the price.
If you’re looking for a guideline price for your property, why not check out our instant online property valuation tool.
Feedback and discussions with the seller
Bad communication is the biggest reason why the business relationship between an agent and seller breaks down.
A good agency should be feeding back (via telephone) as well as other written means of communication to the seller as to how their viewings have fared and what an owner could be doing to make their property more attractive to potential buyers.
This is where so many agents go wrong in this day and age, there is no communication over the telephone. Again, the telephone is important because as human beings there is nothing better than thrashing it out over the phone. We thrive on communication as human beings, hence why the worst punishment in a prison is solitary confinement because nothing troubles the soul more than being alone without being in a relationship with one another.
Agents should be feeding back post viewing within 24 hours regardless of if they can get hold of their viewers. They should be receiving good feedback too regarding critical information for the owners, we try to obtain the ‘good, the bad and the price.’ This way owners know what is attracting buyers, what is turning them off and what they believe a fair price for the property is, this puts things into perspective.
There should also be weekly check-ins to discuss how the property is fairing in the current market, against the competition and against the other properties that the agency has. There is no such thing as constant communication, and this is what most owners crave and why most owners dis-instruct the agent they are using.
Communication is key.
Achieving the highest price possible with the best buyer
Notice how the title doesn’t just say to ‘achieve the highest price possible.’ Just achieving the best price is dangerous because you could achieve the best price to the wrong buyer and your sale falls through.
Unfortunately, the house buying and selling process in the UK is exactly that, a process. You cannot just give someone the money and the next day on their asset. Some laws need abiding to, and you don’t want a situation where you have bought a three-bedroom house in Romford where the owner has completed a single and double-storey extension without planning permission, that would be a disaster, so it does take an average time of three months if it is a simple freehold sale.
So, a good, experienced agent should be handling the offer and should be trained in negotiation in order to do so.
A good agent should be ascertaining how much the buyer can go and try to use means to achieve the highest offer possible from the buyer. However, as mentioned above, I did not say to go with the highest bidder because there is a qualification process with the housing market too.
If you have two buyers at the same offered price on your house to sell in Collier Row at £400,000 and one buyer has a 10% deposit, whereas the other buyer has a 30% deposit, then the buyer at the 30% deposit is in the stronger position because he is more favourable to the banks in terms of obtaining a mortgage.
A good agent should be speaking with mortgage brokers, trying to get an idea of the ‘character’ of the buyer too in terms of their demeanour and also as an agent you want to see proof in the form of financial paperwork too.
A good agent should also know the position of the buyer, whether they have nothing to sell or are in a chain. A good agent should then be presenting the buyers to the sellers with advice on what they would do if the property was their own to sell. It would then be down to the sellers to make the informed decision.
However, as mentioned in previous blogs, this does not guarantee a sale, and anything can happen.
Sometimes as well, going with the higher price provides more risk to a seller, a bank surveyor needs to value the property up, and the buyer might be attracted to other lower priced properties that come onto the market, so there is always risk involved in a time delayed transaction of buying a property in the UK.
A good agency should be referring you to their chosen solicitor whom they work closely with to make the sale easier for themselves as well as the seller. Again, communication is key, and relationships are important.
Most (but not all) agencies do receive a commission fee from a chosen solicitor (so be aware of this) but most agencies use a chosen solicitor because they work well with them and want good communication. Just because the agent earns another bonus, don’t let that discourage you from using them, however, gather three quotes as always.
If you think about it logically a good, busy agent doesn’t want to worry too much about a sale that is going through. They want to worry about what new instructions and sales they can put into their pipeline, essentially looking forward and not backward. They have targets and a business to run.
Therefore, an agent would be ‘shooting themselves in the foot’ by finding you a bad buyer and a bad solicitor, it doesn’t make sense.
So, my advice is always to listen to the agent regarding their recommended solicitor (even if they might be getting a commission), it could still be worth it for your stress levels with a sale going through. By all means, if you are not receiving communication from the chosen solicitor, then you can also pin this back on the agent as it is their recommendation.
I hope this blog has given you some insight into what an agent should be doing, even at the bare minimum. I didn’t cover absolutely everything otherwise the blog would have been too long to write, but if you are not receiving the above from your agency then it could be an idea to change your estate agency, so get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to help.
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