What Do Estate Agents Do?

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When someone decides to sell a property it is usual to appoint an estate agent to value and market your property, manage viewings, communicate with solicitors and manage the chain. The role of an estate agent is actually very complex. Understanding it better will enable you to get the best service from the professional you entrust with the sale of your home.

Unlike many professional industries i.e. banking, mortgage brokering and so on, the estate agent industry is not regulated. Anyone can start an estate agency business as an when they please without having any qualifications. There is no code of conduct to follow, however a number of estate agents are part of the property ombudsman which does issue codes of practice that its members must follow. These codes protect the vendors interests.

The Role Of An Estate Agent

Once an estate agent has visited your property they should suggest an appropriate price as which they suggest you go to market. They form valuations on a selection of criteria, whether that be the current and predicted market trends, recently sold prices in your area and the ‘for sale’ prices near you at the present time. Certain nationwide companies offer a valuation on the phone having never visited your home, never mind the area you live in. Do consider how these firms can make an accurate valuation without having seen the property. We advise that you use an estate agent who attends your property and has thoroughly prepared for the visit.

The Estate Agent will ask you many questions when they come to your home. One of the main questions will be how quickly you would like, or you need, to sell the property. The faster you need to sell the more enticing the price will have to be. If you are in no rush whatsoever then there is no harm in asking that little bit more. You can reduce the price if nothing seems to be happening. The danger is that if the price is too high you will not generate any interest.

When a price has been agreed and you are happy with your choice of estate agent, they will make an appointment to come and take some photographs. They will take measurements of all the rooms and outside spaces to go on the description that they will write about the house you are selling. They should make sure they make your house sound as fabulous as it is as the  more viewers you get through the door, the more chance you have of selling your house. They should offer you the option to have a ‘for sale’ board put outside your home. We advise you take them up on this. Most agents advertise properties on all the well known internet sites like Rightmove, Zoopla and so on.

Once your property has gone to market, you can sit back and wait for the viewings to roll in. Some conscientious estate agents might already have some potential viewers in mind for your house. They often have waiting lists of people waiting for homes like yours to come on the market. The estate agent is responsible for organising and managing all viewings. 

After the viewings have taken place, the estate agents should make contact within 24 hours and then contact you to let you know what the viewers thoughts about your property.

When someone decides that they would like to buy your house, they will make an offer via the estate agent. You are within your rights to accept or decline any offer. Your estate agent can offer you their opinion also but ultimately the decision is yours. Once an offer has been agreed the estate agent must liaise between both parties’ solicitors and address any issues that are throughout the sale. Good estate agents have high conversion rates. This shows they are proactive, time efficient and good communicators. When a sale/purchase is agreed the estate agent will produce a document called the Memorandum of Sale. This includes both seller’s and buyer’s details, the address of the property and the information about the solicitor each party has instructed to undertake their conveyancing.

Which Agent?

Choosing an estate agent is an important decision. Make sure you shop around and find out what each of them has to offer. Look up their statistics and conversion rates and make an informed decision. Also make sure that you know exactly what fees will be charged. Firstly, here is a list of questions that we suggest you ask your potential estate agents:

 Sole agency means you go with just one agent who has the exclusive right to sell your property. This kind of agreement usually lasts for a set period within which,  If your property is sold by another agent, you will still have to pay them their sole agent their fee as well as pay fees to the agent who sold it. You would be paying double. Usually, sole agency fees can range between 1% and 2.5% of the sale price. Tie in periods are usually about  eight weeks.

This means several agents have your property on their books, with the one who sells it being paid the fee. This will usually be around 2.5% and 3.5% of the sale price.

A well-established local agent that has experience selling properties in the immediate vicinity of your home is often a good choice. National, web based agents will not have the same knowledge of the local market and what sells where you are.

Will my property be in the local paper? Will it be on all the well known  property sites such as Rightmove/Zoopla? ​

Ask if they can they will be available during evenings and weekends. Let them know if you are happy to conduct viewings yourself.

Here is what we suggest you do when
choosing an estate agent

Seek recommendations

People will give you their recommendations whether you want them or not. Ask friends, family and colleagues who they have had good experiences with and who to steer clear of. Also, look locally at the “for sale” and “sold” signs. It’s a useful indicator of who is popular in your area.

Ask at least three agents to value your property

Get at least three to come and value your property. Do not necessarily be the most impressed by the agent that values your property the highest. There could be several reasons for this but the highest price is not always the most realistic. You need an agent who is going to be honest and fair and just as importantly, realistic. 

Check industry credentials

Estate agents should be members of The Property Ombudsman Scheme which means complaints can be brought against them that will be independently investigated.

Some estate agents will also be members of other trade organisations. This means that they have to comply with a code of conduct. This can indicate a level of professionalism and diligence. Look out for are:

  • Guild of Property Professionals
  • National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Always research any credentials you have been told. Most information of this kind is usually available on the internet.

Decide between sole and multi-agency

Sole agency is cheaper, but you’re limited to an agent in just one location. Multi-agency costs more, but means that your property will get more exposure, meaning more viewings meaning a potentially quicker sale. You can start out with a sole agency and change to multi-agency at the end of the tie-in period if you want to. 

Negotiate fees

Whichever agent you choose you are well within your rights to negotiate their fees. Some will charge a percentage and others have a flat fee. Either way, they are usually open to offers. 

Examine their terms and conditions of the agreement

Read over the small print before agreeing to anything. Question everything you don’t understand or is not clear. Do not sign anything you don’t agree with.

Review your agent's performance

After a period of time take account of how many viewings you have you had, how they went, whether the agent been marketing the property in the way you expected and whether they have been as proactive and communicative as you expected.

Ask for feedback from the agent, whether there is anything else you can be doing to attract viewers to your home. If you have had relatively few viewings, or you have had viewings but no offers, ask why this is, though the agent should really be giving you feedback after each one.