Estate Agents: Online or High Street?
These days there are basically two different ways of selling your house, and in both you end up using agents.
First, there are the traditional estate agents you see on the high street – they suggest a price, take the photos, put your property in their shop window andÂ on their website, list your home on Rightmove,Â Zoopla and other key websites, organise viewings, and then – you hope – helpÂ move the process toward a sale at a price that suits you. Usually the agent will charge an agreed percentage of the priceÂ they achieve.
And the other way is increasingly to use an online estate agent yourself for a substantially reduced fee – your property willÂ be listed on their site, Rightmove and Zoopla,Â and you organise the viewings and the rest of the process yourself. Fees tend to beÂ a standard upfront feeÂ instead ofÂ a percentage commission.
These days most sellers are somewhat unwilling to entrust the entire process to an online agent, preferring the ‘security’ ofÂ the traditional route.
The choiceÂ depends on the amount you want to delegate against the amount you are willing to hand over to an agent. The numbers are changing, though, with increasing numbers opting to save considerable sums of money on estate agents’ fees. You can read more about using an online agent here.
Picking the right high streetÂ estate agent
If, like most sellers, you decide to stick with a traditional agent, then make sure you research them well. Use this useful toolÂ to ascertain their share of the local market, the percentageÂ ofÂ properties Â sold, the average time it takes them to sell, their asking price vs sale price, the sites they advertise your property onÂ andÂ their feeÂ structure. Note: don’t be fooled by the ‘asking price vs sale price’ statistic – if you undervalue your home, it’sÂ easy to get more for it!
In anyÂ case, remember that you areÂ probably in a position to organise better photography than your agent,
Our clients in Hove chose to use a traditional agent using the calculator on EstateAgent4Me, andÂ were very pickyÂ throughout the selection process. Pat explains the routeÂ they followed:
“I had 4 estate agents visiting the flat to value it and tout for my business:
Number 1 was from a large chain, very friendly and businesslike. He valued the flat at Â£500,000, well above myÂ expectations. My girlfriend thought we should go with them because of their valuation, but we looked at the figures for the branch and they really hadn’t sold that much locally, and that the high valuation was probably just a marketing ploy.
Number 2 was a local agent who had sold several flats and acted as if it was his right to sell our flat. A quick look atÂ their record was enough to show that the reason they’d sold so many local properties was that they routinely undervaluedÂ their properties to achieveÂ a quick sale – their valuation was Â£425,000.
Then Number 3 came in, smelling strongly of cigarettes and a bit scruffy. Though they were a very well-established localÂ agent with good sales figures, they suggested an asking price of Â Â£400,000. In fact when we hadn’t heardÂ back from them for a while a quick phone call told us that they had written my email address down wrong even though theyÂ had my business card!
Number 4 was another local agent. They were very personable and suggested a price of Â£450,000 to Â£475,000. They gave off an air ofÂ friendly professionalism, and asked all the right questions – and listened to the answers. When I wasÂ considering theÂ agents the next day they rang back and asked if they could show a genuine buyer round that afternoon – before I’d even signed up with them.
“This was enough to convince meÂ to go with Number 4, and within a few weeks IÂ had an offer of Â£460,000. Coincidentally itÂ was exactly the same as the automated valuation displayed on Zoopla.
“I think the key to my success in selling the flat were making sure it looked good,Â using the right estate agents, taking great photos and making sure the valuation on Zoopla was as goodÂ as possible.”
The Importance of Online Shop Windows
The major online portals Rightmove and Zoopla are key to successfully selling your home – most initial viewings still happen through Rightmove and the suite of tools at Zoopla help with the specific numbers and market intelligence.
When your property is featured on these websites, you have to catch people’s eyes with great photos and a readable description. We’ve all seen descriptions in block capitals, but which of these would you prefer to visit?
Capital letters areÂ the equivalent ofÂ shouting, and won’t help attract visitors – but they might even scare them off.
Now The Legal Bit – Conveyancing
Early in the sales process you need to find a conveyancing solicitor to make sure the legal side goes smoothly. Quite apart from the large sums of money involved, you need to make sure that you are actually buying what you think you are buying. YourÂ solicitor will conduct searches to check that Â there are no nasty surprises like motorways planned through your garden or issues with disused mines.
They will also liaise with the lenderÂ to make sure theÂ money ends up in the right account, inform the Land Registry of the change in ownership, organise payment of your Stamp Duty, and answer any of your questions about the sale / purchase.
So how do you choose a Conveyancing Solicitor?
If you don’t already know a good conveyancing solicitor, your first step will be to ask for personal recommendations from friends and family who have recently had positive experience with buying and selling property.
If you don’t know anyone personally, you can ask anÂ estate agent, as agents and solicitors often work together.
And a few awardsÂ can help!
We hope you enjoyed reading this Guide To Selling Your House – Effectively. It will be available soon as a pdf download.
In this series we’ve covered:
> Â The Truth About Selling Your Home Effectively
>Â Â Step 1: Tidy up, Declutter and Clean
> Â Step 2: On Flowers … And Smells
> Â Step 3: Light and Bright
> Â Step 4: Photos Make First and Lasting Impressions
> Â Ready For The Market!
> Â Estate Agents And Solicitors