Want to know what to look for when choosing the right estate agent to get your next move off to a flying start?
With thousands of agents all vying to help you sell or let your property, finding the right one for the job can feel overwhelming, but choosing wisely can make a huge difference to both your pocket and a successful sale or let.
Follow our simple guide to selecting your estate agent and get better value for money and increase your chances of a speedy and successful sale or let.
1. Check out their website
There are many pointers to the level of service you will get from an agent on their websites, so here are the main things to look out for:
a) Is their website safe and secure? If an agent isn't taking care of your online security, will they take care of your data and property? If you don't see the secure padlock in your browser when you visit their site, don't even consider registering or signing with the agent. Property fraud is on the increase so don't hand over the virtual keys to your most valuable possession.
b) Like attracts like, so if you want to get the best price or tenant, make sure your property is listed in the very best shop window! If a site is dated and properties aren't easy to view on mobile devices, your property is going to miss out on a lot of potential attention.
c) Take a look at the quality of their property photographs. Are they pixelated, out of focus or generally of a poor standard? Have they taken time to help vendors present their properties at their best? Are there out of date images? Still got a Chrismas tree up or telltale seasonal signs? A good agent will always go back and take fresh photographs and update listings when necessary.
d) Have they got floorplans, EPC's, school catchment areas and local information? The more information an agent provides, the more likely they are to attract the right buyer or tenant.
e) Do they provide extra marketing material such as video, 360/VR tours? This can make a huge difference to potential buyers and tenants and save you a whole lot of stress on time-wasting futile viewings and ensure that only the best matched viewers call.
f) Are there plenty of online tools to help buyers and tenants 24/7? Can they chat online? Book a viewing? Access their own login area for updates? We're living in a digital era and if agents aren't providing sufficient around the clock access, they could be losing you a potential buyer or tenant.
g) If you are a landlord, do they provide online repair reporting for tenants? You want to know that your property is in safe hands and that your agent is looking after it and your tenants, so check-out what system they have in place to ensure that maintenance and repairs are quickly and easily dealt with and emergency contact is available 24/7.
h) Try out their online forms. If you don't get a swift response, forget them. Any agent that isn't responsive to enquiries isn't worth hanging around for, as there is also a good chance that they aren't responding to your potential buyers and tenants either.
j) Is their registered company number displayed on their website, along with contact address and telephone number. If a site just has contact forms, move on.
2) Check out their social media pages
a) Today's successful estate agents understand the power of social media and will use it to help your property reach a wider audience. Many properties are snapped up via social media before they've even got to the open market, as savvy agents know that "EXCLUSIVE" an "COMING SOON" posts are exciting ways to attract attention for new listings.
b) Do they post their properties for sale or let via their website, or a portal like Rightmove? If they post portal links, they're also directly posting a link to properties just like yours and increasing your competition for a buyer or tenant! If your potential agent is doing this, they are seriously jeopardising your potential for attracting a buyer or tenant, so give them a wide berth and find an agent who prioritises YOUR success.
c) Are they engaging with their followers or friends? If they don't respond to social media messages or comments fairly promptly, or even at all, they could also be snubbing your potential buyer or tenant. Our most successful agents monitor their social media pages constantly and are ready to interact and respond to any messages or questions.
3) Read their reviews
a) Reviews can give you a good feel of what an agent is like, but they are also open to abuse by disgruntled and unrealistic customers and competitors. Equally, they can be a misused and be full of fake positive ones (astroturf) so learn to spot genuine reviews. If an agent has had a very bad review and then within a few days, a whole heap of glowing reviews, there's a good chance they are fake. Reviews come in sporadically so be wary or large blocks of 5* reviews with close dates.
b) A 4 or even the odd 3-star review is perfectly acceptable as sometimes things just don't work out and sometimes it can be out of the agent's control, but if there are lots of very poor reviews, move on.
c) Message a couple of the reviewers and verify their posts. Most will happily oblige.
4) Are they legal?
a) Don't take everything you see at face value. Just because an agent states they are members of a legally required redress scheme, it doesn't mean they are!
You can check to see if they are a member of either of the 2 government recognised redress schemes here:
b) If you are a landlord, are they members of a Tenant Deposit Scheme? Can they provide you with evidence that the deposit they take from your tenants is protected by a legally required TDS?
c) Are they transparent about fees? All fees charged to landlords should be clearly displayed at both their premises and on their website by law! An agent that knows they are giving value for money doesn't need to hide fees or be secretive about them, and will be more than happy to let you know exactly what you are getting for your money.
5) Additional information
Fees don't need to be displayed by agents when it comes to selling property and can vary significantly but don't assume the cheapest agent will cost you less.
Quite often, the agent that provides the better service at a slightly higher price can increase the value of your property and help you reach a successful completion faster!
Never choose an agent based on price alone, as cost doesn't always give value for money.
Take a look in our portfolio for some fantastic examples of agents who are providing outstanding services and value for money.