Having worked on residential conveyancing transactions for almost three decades, we have learned a great deal about the good, the bad and the ugly of estate agents.
Most people only buy or sell houses a few times in their lifetime and so do not deal with enough estate agents frequently enough to spot the ones they should be working with, and the ones they should be avoiding.
To help you out, here are some top tips for choosing the right estate agent to sell your property:
- Cheapest isn’t always best. When you are selling, you want the best price, but more importantly, you want the transaction to go through as quickly and efficiently as possible! If an estate agent offers a cheap deal, they may not necessarily be able to make sure it all goes through properly, or might not be affording your transaction sufficient importance or adequate resources.
- Don’t tell them how much you want for your property. They are the experts. Ask them to give you a suggested asking price and a likely selling price, and then to explain why they have arrived at those figures.
- If they offer to get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property ensure that this cost is reasonable. In most cases they should cost no more than about £60, but do your own research online and compare this with what they are quoting.
- What are they going to be like in checking the buyer’s ability to proceed? Once you have somebody making an offer, the person may not be able to get a mortgage, but this only comes to light several weeks later. What sort of checks do they make when advising you about the offer?
- What do they do to check the chain above and below you? Do they insist on up to date details from other people, or are they relying upon third-hand or out-of-date information?
- Are there several people in their office who can talk intelligently about your transaction? On a basic level, people are not always in the office, and even so, they may get sick, go on holiday or move to another job. You need to be sure that their wider team is capable and can support you and the transaction at all times regardless of how good your primary contact is.
- Do they pressure you into signing a sole agency agreement for a long period? There’s nothing wrong with a sole agency agreement as such, but one that gives sole-selling rights is generally to be avoided. However, if they are confident of selling your house quickly, why should they want to tie you up to an agreement for a long time? Be suspicious of anything longer than 6-8 weeks.
- Do they pressure you into having them arrange the mortgage on any related purchase, or to use “their” solicitor for your conveyancing? These arrangements will probably be earning them money so you need to find out . It may be the case that they simply know good firms and it is an honest recommendation. But this will not always be the case.
- Have you already instructed another agent? If you are thinking of changing estate agents you can fall into a trap where you end up being liable for two sets of commission when you sell, so it is important to take legal advice before instructing a new agent. If you do not have a solicitor already acting for you, you may wish to contact us for advice in this respect.
- Can they give references of people they have worked for recently? Of course you can check out online reviews and ratings, but these can be faked. It is often better to try and speak to real people they have worked for – especially in the same locality. If they can supply you with references then do call those people and get their honest opinion. If they cannot or will not supply them, then you should be asking why that is the case.
If you wish to discuss the above article or feel that you require any further advice on residential conveyancing or any other property-related matter, you are encouraged to contact Richard Webster & Co. for a free, no-obligation, initial consultation.
Richard Webster is the founder of Richard Webster & Co. which is a firm specialising in residential property and conveyancing and is accredited by The Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). Please do not hesitate to contact the firm on 023 8000 4321 for any queries that you may have in relation to any residential property matters.
This article does not present a detailed statement of the Law and does not constitute as legal advice. This is a summary only and legal advice should always be sought on an individual case basis.