Thursday, 7 July 2011

How do I find a good estate agent?

There are good and there are bad Estate Agents.  There are Estate Agents that are helpful and there are other Agents who inadvertently cause delay. Finding a good Estate Agent is therefore not an easy task.  In this article I provide some tips which I hope will help you find an Agent who will provide you with a good service and one commensurate with the fee that they charge. 

The Estate Agent will charge a fee according to the value of the property to be sold and this varies from 1% up to 3%.  This is different from how Solicitors charge as most will quote a fixed fee for the work which more often than not is tied in with the value of the property.  The fee of the Solicitor often therefore represents a very small proportion of the fee that you will be required to pay the Agent for marketing your property.

The tips I have are as follows:

Shop around as there is quite a variance in the rates charged by Agents and there are a number of online Agents who now offer their services for a fixed fee.

Don’t be tempted to place your instructions with the Agent who is offering the lowest fee.  There may be a number of reasons why the Agent is not charging a fee in line with other Agents and one of which may be that the Agent will not advertise your property as much as one that is charging a greater fee. 

Indeed it is important to find out at the beginning how often the Agent guarantees that your property will appear in the local paper and also whether or not it will be listed on Right Move’s website or other similar portals. It is important to get some form of commitment from the Agent as to the extent and length of the exposure your property will receive.

Most Agents keep details of the properties they have sold each month and it may help if you ask for these details to be made available to you before you make your decision.

Does the Agent offer any online access to their service so that you can check on progress outside normal working hours?

The Agent may be open to agreeing a split commission arrangement with you which enables you to pay more if contracts are exchanged within the specified period and less if it takes longer to find a buyer. 

If the Agent refers you to a Solicitor it is important to ask whether there is any arrangement that exists between that Agent and the Solicitor whereby the Agent receives a referral fee.  The reason for this is that if a referral fee is paid then the solicitor to whom you are referred will need to disclose this and it is important to know because sometimes the Solicitor may look to add this referral fee onto the fee you are charged.

It is important that you always get an agreement from the Agent in writing and to check all the terms and conditions before the agreement is signed.  It may be advisable only to agree to a short period of time for marketing because if the Agent doesn’t perform then you will be safe to instruct another Agent.

If you do instruct another Agent it is important to read the small print because some agents even after you have left them still reserve the right to charge a fee if it can be subsequently shown that it was as a result of that Agents promotion that a buyer was found.  My advice therefore is that if you move Agents you get a letter from the other Agent to confirm that there is no longer a right to raise a fee.

On the whole Agents can be very helpful during the course of the conveyancing transaction.  However, they can create unnecessary delay because of constant requests for updates from the Solicitor you instruct.  At the end of the day you are instructing the Solicitor not the Agent and therefore it is important that you tell the Agent that they should not contact your Solicitor without first seeking your prior consent.

The Agent will be expected to be paid by the Solicitor once your house is sold. If for any reason you do not wish for the Agent to be paid or you would rather pay the Agent yourself it is important to tell both the Agent and your Solicitor in advance of completion. 

Once the sale particulars have been prepared and sent to you for approval it is important for you to read through these carefully as mistakes can often occur. The statements contained in those sales particulars are often relied on by the purchaser and if there is anything therefore that is not correct it is important for this to be pointed out straight away.

Feel free to consult with a Solicitor before you market your property because local Solicitors often know who the good Agents and may be able to help you find an Agent through recommendation.

At the end of the day you are paying quite a substantial sum for the service and it is for this reason that you should always do your homework and shop around and perhaps also seek recommendations from friends, family and work colleagues before making your decision. 

If you would like to find out how we recommend within the Norfolk area feel free to email me as I am more than happy to assist.

 David Pett.  Solicitor and Partner 

1 comment:

Whisper Agent said...

Good article! Nice to see this from a different highlighted different aspects that may often get overlooked when choosing an Agent. Good point you raised regarding asking if fees are received by an Agent for any service referrals made (e.g. conveyancer/removalist).