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Column: How to choose the best estate agent when selling your home

PUBLISHED: 11:00 29 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:26 08 October 2014

The National Association of Estate Agents president, Simon Gerrard, shares his tips for picking the right estate agent to get the most out of your sale

Generally I would suggest that you invite three estate agents to value your home, here are some pointers to how you should choose those three:

Digital marketing

When considering which agent(s) to instruct to sell your home, I would visit their website, have a good look around to find out a little about the agency, for example how easy is the website to use for buyers searching for a home?

This will also allow you the opportunity to consider their digital offering, such as pictures, floor plans, videos and their use of social media as most buyers start their search online.

Knowledge and professionalism

It is really very important that you use a qualified professional; many agents are not qualified or regulated so look for as a NAEA Licensed agent with good local knowledge to sell your home.

The real reason for this is that although it is possible that any agent could find a buyer, the knowledge, advice and help in shepherding an agreed sale to a successful exchange of contracts is the real value that you gain from using a licensed agent with knowledge of the legal process, construction and the importance of regularly checking the progress of the whole chain.

Market reach

Also consider how many potential buyers the agent can put your property before. After all the more people that see it, the better your chance of achieving the best possible price for your home.

It is important to consider what portals the agents list on and how their properties are presented. Buyers generally look more at the larger adverts with more pictures and those with videos.

However, remember that the cheaper agents may rely solely on this advertising. Better agents can attract over 50 per cent of their enquiry via search engine optimisation of their own website, external brand awareness and advertising, a high street office presence and reputation.

When considering whether to instruct a larger agent with a network of offices, investigate whether they share applicants and properties; if they do this can double or treble the number of buyers your property is introduced to.

Valuation

Once you have chosen the three agents to value your home, this is your opportunity to interrogate each of them about their offering, be sure to try and find out the differences between them.

For example an agent that shows the number of applicants they have registered that may be interested in your home is probably better than one that purely says we have lots of people that would be interested.

When the agent offers their view of the value look in detail at the comparables offered to justify the price. Are they in similar roads to yours? Are they really comparable? What other info has the agent offered to justify the price? Do not be flattered/swayed by a high valuation! Some agents will try and entice you to instruct them on a long exclusivity agreement.

Exclusivity agreements

These are generally used to tie in a seller for a period in excess of four weeks, and are used to get the instruction with the view to persuading you to reduce the price to a more realistic level (which is likely to be less than you would have got if you priced it correctly in the first instance) when you are not at liberty to dis-instruct them and find a new agent. Any agent worth their salt will be happy to allow you to dis-instruct them on short notice if you are not happy with the service.

It is essential that the right asking price is set. Pitch it too high and you will lose the all important initial impact, which could lead to your property sitting on the market and eventually selling for less.

Fees

Looking for the cheapest fee is also a false economy. Your agent should be able to provide a high level of marketing exposure and coverage together with knowledge and experience to ensure you accomplish the best sale price. Saving a few hundred pounds on the fee should be compared to the potential of selling for thousands of pounds less than you could have achieved.

Next fortnight Simon Gerrard will be answering your property queries. Email your questions to livelocal@archant.co.uk.

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