Gareth Davies, Managing Director
As part of Grosvenor Billinghurst’s on-going series of articles created to shine a spotlight on estate agents – and the process of estate agency – Gareth Davies, Managing Director at the Elmbridge property experts, offers his advice on what someone selling their property should establish before signing on the dotted line.
Whenever I’m faced with a warning light on my car, I’m overcome by a feeling of dread. There’s the inconvenience of having to take the car to a garage. But also, if like me you’re not mechanically minded, there’s a knowledge gap relating to what work has been done versus what’s being charged for.
I’ve come to realise that it’s largely misplaced paranoia on my part; after all, reputable car mechanics are just as honest as anyone else. It’s just not knowing - or understanding – what’s going on behind the scenes that leaves you feeling a little helpless.
Having thought about it I realised that this probably applies to estate agents, too. So, in order to arm those who are about to sell their property with the knowledge they need in order to navigate a successful instruction and gain the best value possible, here are the things that I believe a seller must ask an estate agent before choosing their property partner.
1. Evidence is everything
Always ask for evidence to back up a valuation you’ve been given. Request examples of similar properties sold within a recent timeframe so you can get a sense of what’s reasonable and what isn’t. We often see estate agents value a property way too high. Generally, this isn’t based on previous sale values; it’s merely a tool to secure an instruction. Everyone wants to sell his or her property for as high a value as possible. But remember, asking price doesn’t mean selling price.
2. Be realistic
The property market has a natural level. So, if your agent values your property at 10 per cent above market rate it will probably have to be reduced to sell. This wastes precious time. Not only that, but a property’s impact is at its highest within the first few weeks of going on the market. After that, interest can begin to subside. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. We’ve proven that realistic valuations not only sell properties quicker, but they often lead to a higher price. Why? Because a realistic price gains more interest, from the right audience, and the more interest in a property the more likely you are to attract competing offers.
3. Contracts are critical
There are generally three areas of negotiation: the fee, the length of agreement and the property’s asking price. Then you have to decide on whether to give estate agent exclusivity, joint agency or multiple agency agreement. If you’re happy to give exclusivity, then you qualify for the most competitive fees. Just make sure you ask for them. Joint agency, where two estate agents work on your behalf and split the fee, can be useful as you can draw on two sets of prospective buyers and both agencies work harmoniously together, giving streamlined guidance. However, beware of multiple agency agreements. In this case, the estate agent to sell the property collects the full fee. However, we often see agents spending more time blocking their competitors than actually marketing the property.
4. Consistency counts
Establish in advance who will be managing the sale of your property. The experienced business owner may come out to value your property – but who will be handling the viewings? Many estate agents often draw on part-time employees to show prospective buyers around, which can work really well. However, we’ve heard of cases where the person showing a buyer around was either woefully inexperienced, unfamiliar with the property or hadn’t ever been there before. This makes the viewer uncomfortable, compromises the viewing experience and may impact the buyer’s ability to visualise it as their next home.
5. Be bold (and expect boldness)
When instructing an agent, don’t be afraid to ask them why they deserve the business and what sets them apart. With several estate agents in any one high street, each one has come to offer their own set of skills and specialism. Make sure that whomever you choose to sell your property is someone you can work with and trust. Furthermore, select an agent that’s bold, too. Choosing an agent that answer’s ‘no’ when the answer should have been ‘yes’ - or vice versa - in order to avoid tackling important issues is all well and good until you realise that maybe your property should have had a lick of paint before going on the market. Instruct an agent that’s just as able to have the more direct – and sometimes uncomfortable – conversations with you as well as the easy ones.
Looking for a trustworthy and community-driven family-run estate agent in Cobham, Claygate or Hinchley Wood and the surrounding areas? If so, contact our team to arrange a valuation.