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17 September 2014
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Choosing an estate agent

With so many estate agents around it can be difficult deciding who to choose. Here are some tips to help you.


Vendors tend to scour the areas where they want to buy, and visit agents based nearby. Don't feel obliged to sell through the same agent you're buying from.

Check for a local presence:

  • look out for boards, preferably reading 'sold' and not 'for sale'
  • look in local papers
  • personal recommendations are invaluable

Valuations

Anyone can give a high valuation figure, but actually obtaining it is another matter. Ascertain if the figure is a result of experience and knowledge of the area, or whether you're being told what you want to hear. If you're unsure, ask to see comparisons of previous sales in the area that have been passed by a mortgage surveyor.

Fees

Negotiating a low fee with an agent may prove to be a false economy, because it won't necessarily generate the high levels of enthusiasm needed to get the best result. Remember, estate agents work for money, so why not create an incentive to benefit both parties? A full asking price deserves a full fee but you might want to agree a downward sliding scale if offers fall below it.

Contracts

Be careful when authorising an agent. Read the contract small print carefully, as you may find yourself signed up and legally bound for a long period of time. If this is the case, in the event of poor service, you will not be able to go elsewhere, unless of course you're prepared to fork out two fees. If you're not, insist on a time period of your choice. Month to month or even week to week if you can get away with it!

Multiple agents?

You want to get as many people as possible to know that your property is on the market. This could mean using internet estate agents or at least more than one agent. If you decide to use multiple agents, check the small print on their contracts. They may insist on 'sole agency', which means that even if you sell your home privately or through another agent, you'll still be charged a commission fee.


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