If you are thinking of moving home this year, it is very likely that you will seek the services of an estate agent. Whilst estate agents currently sit alongside bankers as one of the most vilified professions, the majority of sellers will still use them when trying to sell their home.
I thought, therefore, that it might be useful to have an understanding of the house-buying process through the eyes of an estate agent. With over 30 years experience working in the property sector, I know both sides of the business and can give a useful insight into the world of the estate agent.
New sales instructions are the key driver for an estate agent
The lifeblood of all estate agents are new sales instructions and they will be targeted heavily in this area. Without new instructions an estate agents business will not be successful, as potential new buyers will soon drift away to another agent if they see no new properties on the market. It is even more important since the arrival of property portals such as Rightmove for an estate agent to have new stock, without this their property will look dated very quickly as buyers search the web on a daily basis.
How to choose an estate agent
Estate agents will try anything to obtain your instruction, including overstating the price you may get for your property and cutting their fees to the minimum. Don't fall for either of these tricks.
- Always ask your estate agent to provide evidence of the sales they have made of similar properties to your own and the price obtained to make sure you a setting a realistic marketing price.
- Don't always go for the cheapest agent make sure you do your research and instruct the agent that has a good sales record and reputation in your area.
How to find the best and cheapest estate agent in your area
The quickest and easiest way to find the best estate agent based upon costs and their past sales record is to use the tool below. Having used it, I was very impressed as you can even book a valuation appointment using it with the best estate agent in your area.
Also read my article "Selling your home? How to choose the best estate agent".
More viewings means more sales
It is a simple truth that the more viewings an estate agent can arrange the more sales they will make. No matter how much searching of property portals a potential buyer does, it's not until they start viewing that they are seen as a serious purchaser by an estate agent. Once an estate agent obtains a new instruction they will pull out all the stops to get people viewing that property as they realise it can take, on average, as many as 15 viewings to sell a property.
How to get more house viewings
You should get your first viewings fairly soon after your property goes on the market. If you have gone around two weeks without a viewing, discuss this issue with your estate agent. It could be that the price is too high or that the property has not been presented well on property portals or on their own website. Also, you need to be aware that the estate agent could have moved their focus to the newer property instructions so they may need a bit of a push to refocus back on yours. Reducing the price by just a small amount and redoing the photographs can give the marketing of your property a huge boost as it will now appear the same as a new instruction on many property portals.
Most viewings are carried out on a weekend and most offers are made on a Monday
It may appear obvious, but the majority of viewings are carried out over the weekend, with most offers being made on a Monday. For this reason many estate agents will end their week on Monday to obtain the maximum sales for the week.
How to arrange house viewings
Why not join the crowd and arrange your viewings for the weekend. It is likely your viewers are visiting a number of properties within the space of two days and can therefore make an instant comparison. If you arrange viewings for earlier in the week it is unlikely that they will make an offer before they view more properties at the weekend, by which time your property will have faded in their memory.
Most estate agents don't give feedback after a viewing
For some reason most estate agents are very remiss when it comes to giving seller feedback after a viewing. I believe this is vital information that all sellers need to help when selling their property. Potential buyers are very critical - quite rightly so - and will be quick to let the estate agent know if a property is overpriced or in need of a makeover.
Getting feedback from your estate agent
After every viewing on your property make sure your estate agent obtains immediate feedback from the viewer. Tell your agent that you want this feedback 'warts and all' so that you can take action to address any issues and as a result sell your property.
For more advice, read my article "What to do if your house isn't selling".
Sellers can be 'pigeon holed' by an estate agent
It is only human nature that an estate agent will form an opinion of a seller through their interaction with them. It is advisable to be as flexible as possible in dealings with your agent, especially when it come to discussing offers on your property.
How to have a productive relationship with your estate agent
All offers are negotiable so don't be too quick to dismiss them, no matter how low. Potential buyers can come back time and again with improved offers and end up very committed buyers, but these could have been lost at the outset by an intransigent seller. So encourage offers and be polite if declining them to prevent your estate agent 'pigeon-holing' you as a stubborn seller.
Estate agents earn money from arranging your mortgage - but that's not a good reason to say 'no'
Any estate agent offering a mortgage service will earn money from this service and this puts many people off. Let's be clear here: any company arranging your mortgage will earn money from it and that's just business, so don't be too quick in declining the estate agent's service.
How to deal with the estate agent's mortgage adviser
Many agents offer an excellent professional service and may be able to source a really competitive deal but you need to be aware that they will probably not have access to all the deals in the market. As well as talking to the estate agent's mortgage adviser do your own research or contact an independent financial adviser to make sure you are getting the best deal for you.
Also read my article "Finding a good mortgage adviser - where to look, what to check & what to expect".
Estate agents are not conveyancers
Once you have agreed an offer on your property the conveyancing process begins. One thing I would like to make clear is that an estate agent is not the conveyancer but simply the messenger between all parties involved in your sale. So, if you are having issues, by all means speak to your agent, but be aware that they are only passing on information they have been told. Maybe a call to your solicitor, or even direct with your buyer, may produce better results.
Surviving the conveyancing process
Make contact with your conveyancing company as soon as your sale is agreed and understand the conveyancing process. Build a good relationship with them and get an estimated timeline from them for completion of your sale. You will be very lucky if everything goes according to plan so being prepared for problems at the outset may help your blood pressure in the long run.
For more tips, read my article "Conveyancing - guide to the legal process of buying a house".
Estate agents are as keen as you are for your sale to complete
Moving house is one of the most stressful events in anybody's life, but be aware that an estate agent will not earn a penny until your sale is completed, so they are as motivated as you are for your sale to complete.
How to communicate with your estate agent
Build a strong relationship with your estate agent and regularly discuss the marketing of your property and any changes that need to be made. Just instructing an estate agent and then sitting back and hoping to achieve a sale is leaving your future in the hands of somebody else, which is never good advice.
Also read my article "How to get the best out of your estate agent".