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Selling Your House - Choosing an Estate Agent

Updated on May 11, 2013

Lots for sale?


Do I Need an Estate Agents?

When it comes to selling your house, estate agents are supposedly the experts, and they rely on you thinking that to get their commission. But are they best placed to sell your house, do you really need them? In most cases, the answer will be yes, but it is worth stopping for a minute just to make sure it really is the right thing to do. If your house is likely to be highly sought after, or you know of potentially interested buyers, then you might want to consider them first. Saving several thousand pounds in commission could in theory save you money and mean a better deal for your buyer. One situation where this might be the case is if you have been renting out the property - it may be worth checking if the tenants are interested in purchasing. Or if an investor with other properties on the street is interested in buying another (this is house someone I knew sold their house).

If you do decide to not go down the estate agents route, be careful that you don't sell your house too cheaply. Get an independent valuation, or several, so that you have a good idea what your house is worth before you sell.

Traditional vs Online Estate Agents

Okay, so you've decided to go with an estate agents, but what type? Not so long ago, there was just the traditional type, with a shop in town, agents to show prospective buyers round the property, and the familiar signs that have been familiar to people for decades. They also charge a hefty fee, usually a percentage (typically 1-5% of the property sale price), but only if and when the property actually sells.

A few years ago, the internet spawned a new breed of estate agent. These come in different flavours but what they have in common is what they don't have: a shop in the local town, adverts in the local paper (usually) and viewers who show potential purchasers round your property. They may come with a sign, but it won't be one of the familiar signs everyone is used to. The advantages that they do have is that they're cheaper - that's about the only reason people choose them over traditional estate agents. They either charge a much cheaper percentage of the sale price, or they charge a monthly/annual/one off fee.

It might be tempting to go with online only estate agents to save money, but it is very likely that the traditional estate agents will more than make up for the extra fees by negotiating a higher sale price, and (particularly in a slow property market) selling your house faster. They will also take care of a lot of the hassle of selling your house - things like organising viewings and showing people round the property, making sure the house is well advertised, and negotiating with potential buyers. If you want to go with an online only agent, you must be prepared to do these things yourself (though some people, particularly if they have plenty of time, might enjoy doing these aspects themselves).

Picking an Estate Agent

When you approach an estate agent with a view to selling your house through them, usually a valuer will from the agents will come round, value your house and then give you the spiel about why you should choose them. They will also tell you what their fees are. It is advisable to get quotes/valuations from several estate agents so that you can compare them. You will immediately have two very tangible factors to compare when deciding who to go with: the suggested selling price, and the agents commission.

You may get very different suggested sale prices from different agents - this isn't necessarily because they all think your house will sell for different amounts, it is more likely that there is an element of strategy being employed by the agents. Some will quote a high price to make you go with them, hoping you will follow the natural instinct of 'they say they can get me more money so I'll go with them', others will be pricing low, hoping you will agree to go with them anyway, then they will get a quick and easy sale (and hence commission). Some of those suggesting a high price may put you under pressure to reduce the price a couple of months down the line, or to accept a low offer, so it isn't necessarily better.

The commission is obviously an important factor, but not as important as you might think. If an estate agency has a low commission but doesn't work hard to sell your house, then it isn't worth it, and in a slow property market you might not manage to sell it at all.

Here are a few factors to help you decide which estate agent to go with:

  1. How big are they in the local area? This can be judged by how many for sale signs you see out and about, or how many of their properties appear in a search online (on a website like Rightmove in the UK). The more they have, the more customers they are likely to have, hence greater exposure from your house.
  2. Which estate agents have a good reputation locally, or have the biggest adverts in the local paper?
  3. How many viewers do they have to show people round properties? The more employees they have that do viewings, the better. If people that ring up to look round a property have to wait several days to look round they might not bother, or find something better in the meantime.
  4. Are staff on a commission basis or just salaried? Staff on a commission basis are more likely to work harder to sell your house for the best price.
  5. Are they a local, regional or national firm? Regional or national firms have a bigger reach, and you may get interest in your property from people going into other branches.
  6. What websites do they list on? In the UK is essential to get the most people looking, but listing on many sites is an added bonus.

Consider all of these factors, and weigh them up against the fees charged and the price they are suggesting you should put your house up for. At the end of the day though, gut instinct has to play a part - if you get on with the staff, then potential purchasers will too, which can only help you.

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      6 years ago

      Here in the United States the system is different. Depending on the state the property is located the real estate market is heavily regulated by different state agencies that are charged with responsibilities of overseeing the functions of their realtors and advertising guidelines.

      By your traditional method of marketing and selling real estate products I was expecting an information that is completely different from modern approach.

      We all are living in modern societies that value professionalism. For example is there any need to hire a lawyer to prepare a brief and present the case to the court ? Or put it this way is there a need to go to the hospital to see a medical doctor ? Or another better way : Is there a need to go to the mechanic when your car is not functioning well ?

      The best way is that all schools should close down and we all go back to a traditional society. Everybody to themselves and God for all.

      My question is : Have you ever bought a stock ? You need a professional stock broker to guide you through the stock market otherwise you gonna make lots of mistakes.

      We earn money by helping people to solve their problems, this is the fundamentals infrastructure upon which the modern society is built. Professionalism utilizes the best methods by which your problems will be eliminated not compounded.

      Real estate market depending on the country and cities is a dynamic market and constantly changing environment. Given the break through by innovation in technology the market is simplified on our desktop.

      We seen statistic provided by realty trac showing the number of sales by owners compared to professional realtors and the record is very clear pointing to the direction that you need a professional to market your home, to achieve the greatest result.

      Depending on prevailing market conditions your home may stay in the market for a period of 90 to 120 days and much of the marketing break down by percentage are as follows:

      (1) sellers behavior 40 %

      (2) home location and value 40 %

      (3) Agents positioning of the home in the market 20%

      (4) Comparatives 20%

      Those are the figures of activities report for home marketing and sales statistics.


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