Do I pick the agent with the highest price and lowest fee?

Don't be tempted to simply go with the agent who offers you the cheapest deal

Don't be tempted to simply go with the agent who offers you the cheapest deal - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s always a good idea to shop around when searching for an estate agent to sell your home. But don’t be swayed by the cheapest rates when it could cost you more in the long run, cautions Simon Gerrard

Selecting an agent just on the fee they charge can ultimately cost you much more than the apparent saving you make in the fee you pay. A saving of a fraction of a percentage point can result in a sale thousands of pounds lower than may have been possible – or even achieving a sale at all. Look at the bigger picture – what is the agent able to offer in experience and marketing reach.

A local estate agent will know their market intimately and will know the price your property should be put at to sell at the best price within the time scale you need. To help achieve this their marketing will need to attract as many buyers as possible. As with most things in life cutting what you pay will affect the level of service and the amount and quality of resources you receive.

Online is an important aspect of any agents marketing. Before Microsoft the only windows home buyers saw were those of the estate agents they looked in to see properties for sale. Now over 93 per cent of buyers begin their search by looking through agent’s websites and the major property portals – Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location - to carry out research and narrow down areas they can afford or want to live in.

So before instructing an agent check how they are promoting themselves and the property they are selling. Is their website clear and easy to search? Do they have featured promotions on the portals? Do they provide good quality photographs and a property video tour?

Video has become increasingly significant - You Tube is the second most popular search engine – so having a good quality property video will help attract more buyers. But be careful here, quality is paramount. Some agents offer videos that are in fact just a string of still photos. The video needs to be engaging and highlight the best features of a property.

Don’t believe the hype and think all an agent does is put some pictures on the internet and sit back waiting for the buyers to roll in. There really is much more to successfully finding a serious buyer and achieving the best price.

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While you want as many potential buyers to know your property is for sale - you will need an agent who will filter interest so they don’t waste your time with viewings for people that are patently not interested or haven’t got the budget.

The next stage of any buyers search is to contact the agent directly. This is where an agents experience and knowledge will come to the fore. An established High Street estate agent is able to bring experience and most importantly local knowledge. It is a fact the vast majority of us didn’t end up buying the exact sort of home we set out for. There are always compromises to be made. A good estate agent will recognise what is important in a property and point out similar homes, possibly in an area, you may not have first considered and would have disregarded in an online search.

Before instructing you should question your agent and find out their experience and process of progressing your sale. Finding a buyer is just part of the job. One of the most important aspects of selling is ensuring the sale goes through. A good and experienced agent is best placed to help steer progress by liaising with both sides, their solicitors, surveyors and lender. They can also keep on top of any chain. They will be able to spot potential problems and deal with any issues that do arise.

Choosing which agent to sell your property will often come down to basic human emotions –who has the most empathy with you and who do you trust the most to do a good job for you. This will usually be based on who has given the best presentation, but be sure their promises are backed up with substance and facts.

Simon Gerrard is the managing director of north London estate agents, Martyn Gerrard. Send your questions for Simon to ham& or tweet us @hamhighproperty.