Choosing the Agency
Some Tips To Help You Find The Right Agent.
When the time comes to let your home, how do you choose which estate agent to appoint? You have a tremendous choice of agencies and, on the surface, most appear to do more or less the same thing. But there is far more to moving than simply finding a tenant, and it is critical that when the time comes, you choose the right agent for you, your property and your situation.
A good starting point is to find an agent who clearly understands the stresses involved in moving and who accepts that you are likely to want to let your home with minimal stress and for the most attractive figure the current market will pay within a convenient timescale. Many agents make unrealistic claims and rash promises, so here are some guidelines which we hope will help you choose the right agent to let your home.
Buyers overwhelmingly prefer to work with local experts, whom they regard as “in the know”, so choose a well-established local agent, and preferably one that has the backing of a national support network such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). Our director Paul Schofield has 42 years experience in Sales & Lettings. He has been a member of the NAEA since 1989.
Beware! It is well-known that some agents deliberately over-value your home in order to impress you to secure your instruction, so don’t fall into the trap of simply choosing the agent with the highest valuation. An inflated price attracts the wrong tenant to your property, and the right tenant never see it, resulting in the property going stale on the market. This often leads to the property falling below its true market value.
The issue of correct valuation is paramount. It is critical that you appoint an agent who not only has a track record of successful sales in the area (not just properties on the market) but also has a thorough working knowledge of current tenant activity, and who can interpret prevailing market trends to your advantage.
Many tenants are unaware of the considerable differences between agencies and have no alternative than to decide whom to appoint on the level of commission charged. This is often a huge mistake and is a bit like buying a car purely on price considerations. All cars go from A to B, but the vast price differential is related to issues of quality, reliability, security, performance and the whole driving experience.
The same is true of estate agents. Some agents simply cannot afford to provide a level of service that is either effective, or makes the letting experience hassle-free. For example, they are often the last firms to provide adequate staff training or post-offer support, resulting in missed offers, slower letting and lower prices.
Cut-price estate agents usually require a higher turnover of stock in order to survive and they are therefore likely to be less concerned about securing the best price for their clients. The net amount in your pocket is surely more important than the percentage fee charged!
Too many agencies only communicate good news! That’s easy! Good agents are in frequent contact with their clients and have the guts to advise you if anything needs to be done to improve your chances of an impressive sale.
If an agent is not enthusiastic about your property – don’t instruct them. A positive approach to letting your home is essential if tenant are to be inspired into letting your home.
Choose an agent that is owned and run by property professionals who are interested in your let, rather than by people who are simply employed to build an empire. Could you get hold of a Director if you needed to?
Does the agent accompany all viewings? What about evenings and weekends? It is incredible that so few estate agents provide accompanied viewings. Apart from the obvious security issues, only when agents accompany tenant around a property can they probe, listen and understand what the tenatnts really wants.
Agents who develop a picture of the tenants’ preferences, in addition to those few key ones that were registered, tend to have a much higher viewing ratio and do not frustrate their clients with unsuitable viewers. James Pye & Son’s policy is to accompany all tenants around a property wherever possible, and provide prompt and constructive feedback.
Good estate agents provide floorplans on their particulars. They are far more helpful and accurate than the flowery descriptions some agents still use, and tenant find them invaluable. Floorplans improve the quality of viewings because they weed out clearly unsuitable purchasers and can motivate those who might otherwise not have viewed your property.
Make sure you choose an agent who doesn't waste your money advertising properties in the local press. Chances are that they will already have a large pool of buyers who have enquired about similar homes to yours. However, be wary of the agent who promises to advertise your property every week with a postage stamp size ad! This is simply paying lip-service to you and has very little to do with marketing strategy as it can cheapen your property and lead to over-exposure.
Also be aware of the agent who claims to have the most advertising space in the local newspaper only to find that they devote a large part of their advertising space to promoting their ancillary products and services and properties from other branches in towns not local to where your property is being advertised.
When you are choosing a letting agent, do make sure you choose one who also does selling. Selling agents have long-term buy-to-let property investors permanently on their books who buy regularly. They know the agent, and they make quick decisions and reliable offers. They prefer to buy through an agency that does lettings because it is easy for them to let out their new investment. Also, many tenants also register to buy.
Good selling agents build strong relationships with their clients and are in a good position to help them buy one of their own selling clients’ properties. It also means that should you decide to rent your property out instead of selling it the same agent can handle both – whichever comes along first!
Some agents think the sale is done when a buyer is found, and some sales negotiators are incentivised to arrange sales, but not necessarily to see them through to completion.
Many a sale has been lost due to poor follow-up or inadequate liaison with surveyors or solicitors. About 35% of sales arranged in England and Wales fall through (although far fewer than this in our case). So choose an agent that provides a dedicated sales progression service that employs people who are trained to spot potential difficulties long before they arise, and who spend 100% of their time working towards a successful outcome.
Anyone can become an estate agent in this country without any qualifications or minimum service standards! Agents who wish to demonstrate their commitment to consumer protection will be members of the Ombudsman for Estate Agents scheme, which has a rigorous Code of Practice.
The Ombudsman is independent and impartial and can listen to any complaints and award binding financial compensation without the expense and hassle of having to go through the courts. The sale of your property is too important to entrust to just anyone. So we recommend you choose an agent who is a member of the Ombudsman scheme.
Naea (National Association Of Estate Agents) Membership
One of the most important aspects to consider is whether your agent is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents, which sets down a stringent code of conduct and provides extensive training for its members.
The Internet is a valuable tool in estate agency. But don’t be impressed by any “hit” claims. All web-enabled agents are exposed to many buyers, but how well do they qualify those buyers when it comes to discussing your home. It is very easy for a “buyer” to register a passing interest. It takes a well-trained agent to identify those buyers who have a serious and pressing need to move. Find out how easy it is for buyers to use the agent’s property search facility by visiting their website yourself. Is it impressive, state-of-the art, and does it provide useful buying and selling advice?
Over 85% of buyers use the internet when looking for a property. So you need to be sure that your property is found and promoted – quickly and easily. An agent might have a great website, and that’s fine, but do they subscribe to the most effective property portals, because this is how buyers are directed to your property when they search using the search engines such as Google, Ask Jeeves, Excite or Yahoo. Two of the UK’s market-leading sites are Rightmove & On The Market.
Good agents list their clients’ property on one of these, but very few list on both. But if you want maximum coverage leading to more buyers and therefore the chance to achieve the very highest price for your home, then you really should use an agent who subscribes to both of these major portals.
Location, Location, Location
When selecting an agency, establish which areas you would like to live in and ask if the agent covers all of these? It may also be important to consider where the agency's offices are located so you can get to them easily in the event of any difficulties.
Ask friends, relatives and colleagues to let you know which agent has offered them the best service. Recommendations are always an effective way of finding a good agent.
Ultimately, you are best served by choosing a locally based agent who holds values similar to your own. One who has time to listen; one who understands your needs and concerns; one who can offer real, straight-talking advice; one who takes pride in his/her integrity, combined with a passion for results.
Needless to say, James Pye & Son not only fulfils, but also goes beyond many of the recommendations outlined here. You owe it to yourself to make the right choice. So when the time comes to sell, choose wisely.