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Top 5 questions to ask when choosing an estate agent to sell your home

Picking the right estate agent can mean the difference between getting the right price in good time, or your property sitting on portals for months. Here's what to ask.

Top 5 questions to ask when choosing an estate agent to sell your home
We know that many things are on hold in the property market right now, but you can still take steps to prepare to sell your home. One of the easiest things to do right now is find the right estate agent for you, so that when the time comes, your property is ready to be listed.
 
 
We’ve invited estate agent comparison site Netanagent to let us know the top questions to ask when choosing an estate agent, and how to find one who is likely to sell your property for the best price, in the quickest time.
 
 
“We wouldn’t even have known where to begin. We just chose the firm with the nearest office.”
 
This is usually the answer when we ask people who have recently sold their home how they chose the estate agent. While it’s not surprising that first time sellers could be unaware of how things work, a surprising number of sellers who have been through it before also choose the closest agent.  
 
With so many different variables to consider, the choice of agent can have a big impact. It can be the difference between a smooth selling process and a complicated nightmare, and getting the right price promptly or waiting on the market for months.
 
Agent comparison site netanagent.com makes it easy for you to compare the fees, commissions and services being offered by a wide range of local, national and online agents. So making a call on the best-priced and featured deal available to you is easy.
 
However, there’s a lot more to finding a perfect agent.
We’ve collected the top 5 questions to ask potential agents, before you decide who to list with. Taking your time to choose the best agent for you will get you the best price in the best time.
 

1. What properties that are similar to mine have you got on the market, or have you sold recently?

Experience with your part of the market in your area is a huge plus when considering agent.
 
If they regularly handle properties similar to yours they should have a good, up to date feel for the specific features buyers are looking for. They should be able to assess realistic sale prices and they should also have an existing list of potential buyers looking for this kind of property that they can contact immediately about your listing.
 
Agents who regularly sell properties like yours should also likely have a reputation in the local area for doing this. This makes buyers more likely to begin their hunt with a visit to that agent.
 
If an agent confirms that they have sold a number of similar properties over the last year, ask how long they typically took to sell. Ask for an actual breakdown showing how many they sold and how many of these sold within 1 month, 3 months and a year.
 
Next, ask whether the price had to be reduced from its original level in order to find a sale. If so, find out by how much, and decide whether that feels like an acceptable adjustment, or suggests an inflated (and therefore poor or misleading) valuation by the agent to begin with.
 
Lastly, push them to tell you what level of interest they had in the properties. Did they show a property twice in the first week and then only once more over the next month? Or did they manage to keep buyers coming to look at a healthy weekly rate until someone put in an offer that was accepted?
 

2. Where would you be advertising my property, and what other marketing would you do?

 
This is a massive part of the value an agent should provide.
 
Almost every agent will tell you that they are going to list your property on Right Move, Zoopla and other popular property portals. This is now so ubiquitous as to be an entry level expectation for anyone selling a property. However, it’s still worth pushing them on precisely which of these sites they plan to use.
 
There are also lots of less well known, but still very useful, property sites. These include sites dedicated to local areas, and the more imagination the agent demonstrates in where they advertise your property, the more productive their approach is likely to be.
 
Next, check whether they have their own, up-to-date email list of people looking to buy in the area. If they do, ask to see what they email out. Do they send individual details sheets or weekly newsletters with new properties on? Does their entire list of buyers receive all the properties, or do they focus in more so that people are sent only the kind of properties they’re looking for?
 
Do they use social media? Check whether they have a strong and well maintained profile on Facebook and Instagram, and whether they post individual property details to their feeds.
 
Don’t forget the more traditional estate agent media, too. For decades, agents sold properties using nothing more than ‘For Sale’ boards in gardens, photos and details in their windows, and ads full of thumbnails in local papers and property magazines. Ask about all of these. They’re all still powerful ways of getting your property in front of potential buyers in your area.
 

3. If I appoint you, who will actually show my property?

To have your property shown by an inexperienced, ill-informed or possibly even ill-mannered member of an agent’s team can mean an otherwise interested prospect getting back in their car and driving away shaking their head.
 
Which agent or agents will show the property? Ask to meet them. Look for someone you feel is knowledgeable, trustworthy and likeable. If you wouldn’t really want to be shown a property by that person yourself, don’t let them be the person showing yours to potential buyers!
 
The company’s Sales Negotiator is also someone you should ask about. This is the person who picks up interested buyers after the viewing agent has shown them the property and tries skilfully to bring them round to the best possible offer. A good Sales Negotiator can be the difference between a swift sale at asking price and a long wait and painful price drop before a sale happens.
 
Lastly, don’t forget that some online platforms, and on occasions even some high street agents, may expect you to show your property to people they send over. Some people like to do this. However, even if you are a skilled sales person it can be tricky. A concern from a potential buyer that might be easily deflected or explained away by an experienced sales agent can become a stumbling block if you, as the seller, take offence or don’t think quickly enough.
 

4. What would you recommend I do to the property before I put it on the market?

Clearly, you can only ask this once an agent has been around to view, but it’s not just a fresh pair of eyes – you want their experienced opinion. The agent should have shown and sold hundreds of properties in your area, and so should have a good feel for what the kind of buyers you will be targeting will like or be scared away by. 
 
Set aside your ego and don’t be sensitive. You may absolutely adore your crimson entrance hall, but if an experienced agent tells you it will put people off, be ready to paint it over in off-white to help get a quicker offer.
If the agent can’t answer this question, or seems vague, decide whether you’re happy to instruct them anyway because they seem to make up for this shortcoming in other areas.
 

5. How much do you feel my property will sell for?

The valuation. Now you will, of course, ask this of every agent you are considering, but be ready to think hard about the response and to challenge it.
 
Some agents will dangle the prospect of a higher than expected price in front of you to try to secure the instruction, even when they know that there’s little or no chance of achieving this. Is that something you’re happy with, on the off-chance that a buyer might happen along who bites, or would you prefer to list at a lower price in order to get a sale sooner? If the latter seems more sensible, then you might be drawn to the agent who did not try to dazzle you in the first place.
 
Whatever price an agent suggests you market at, ask them to show you precedents - similar properties sold within the previous few months that have achieved this kind of price. Remember you want the sale price, not the asking price. Ask the agent whether they feel particular times of year achieve higher prices in your area – you may get more for your money if you wait.
 

Research. Compare. Consider. Decide.

Selling your home, however small or large, is a sizeable transaction. It’s best to go into it with an estate agent you feel comfortable with and whose experience will help you achieve the best possible balance between price and speed of sale.
 
Go into choosing your agent with an open mind. By enabling you to survey which agents work in your area, what fees they charge and what services they offer, Netanagent is a great place to start.
 
Do your research, draw up a shortlist and then ask your questions – choosing the right estate agent for you can make your experience more pleasant and more profitable.
 

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