10 Things to lookout for when choosing an Estate agent

So, you’ve taken the plunge and decided to sell your home. It’s time then to get your house on the market. The next step? Choose an Estate Agent. Here are a few things to look out for before you market your property with anyone.

No mention of VAT

Pick an agent that is clear, open and honest about their fees from the very beginning. Remember most estate agents charge VAT. As incredulous as it seems, estate agents are taught not to quote “plus VAT” until the final bill is presented. So, always think and ask yourself will there be 20 per cent on top of these fees?

Other fees

Any estate agent you appoint should be advising you that there are other costs involved. You will need to factor in things such as a mortgage valuation, this cost depends on your mortgage lender, conveyancing fees generally cost anywhere between £800-£1500. An energy performance certificate is generally around £40-£50 and property surveyors will charge £250-£600 for an evaluation, depending which service you take.

Push you to use their own financial/legal services

Beware of estate agents that try and push or sell other services such as mortgages, conveyancing amongst others. Some unscrupulous estate agents will make the implication, that if you don't use their preferred supplier, you will be in a worse position during the sales process. They will generally claim that these suppliers “know how they work” which in turn will make the whole process smoother. As a buyer, you should not feel pressured by the estate agent to use their in-house or preferred mortgage broker, rather than choosing your own.

The estate agent may also imply that they will persuade the seller to be more inclined to accept your offer if you use their in-house broker. Some estate agents have even been filmed telling prospective buyers that they cannot pass your offer to the seller if you do not use their mortgage broker.

Remember that the agent is legally obliged to pass on all offers to the seller, so do not give in to their pressure. You must also realise that using the estate agent’s mortgage broker could be a conflict of interest.

Fake Viewers

It has been known for some estate agents to arrange viewings for people who are not genuinely interested in buying the property. Even worse that that some of the people the agent sends out to your property could be estate agent’s friends, or even colleagues from another branch. Don’t be afraid of asking the viewers questions, you never know.

Commission payments

Don’t be afraid to raise the issue of fees or commission with the estate agent. Failure to do so will probably find them charging you their standard rate. This is quite often around 2 to 3%. You should be able to negotiate this down to around 1% with a little bit of gentle negotiation. Also, Referring back to our previous point ensure that they are always talking in VAT inclusive terms.

Flyboarding

Just because you see a lot of boards for a particular estate agent in your area doesn’t mean that they are particularly popular in your area. Some nefarious estate agents resort to what is known as Fly-boarding. Fly-boarding is the illegal practice of estate agents using display boards to advertise their business at properties where no sale or letting has taken place. It is particularly associated with blocks of flats and new businesses seeking to unfairly promote themselves. The practise is illegal and is punishable with big fines by local councils.

 

Huge Fees

It is estimated that based on the average house with an average fee, estate agents are getting paid the equivalent of over £850 an hour. As you can probably see the cost bears no resemblance to the amount of time the estate agent spends working on the sale of your home. By far the most cost effective way to sell your home in England and Wales is to use an online estate agent. Most online estate agents will sites offer a fixed fee package which means you know the total cost of using the service from the very beginning. The services offered by these sites differs, with some companies offering a comprehensive package giving you the opportunity to and some others simply enable you to upload a listing. Prices start from as little as £45 up to £1800. Here at Eazy Agent we offer three amazing packages, Pay as You Go, Pay Now and Pay Later.

Overvaluing property

A very common tactic used by estate agents is valuing a house at way over what the market value really is. This inflated rate is designed to convince you to choose them over another agent. Remember all the estate agent wants is to list your property with them. The next thing that happens once you have signed on with them is that they will deliberately fabricate very low offers in order to downwardly manage your expectations. The next step after about three or four weeks will be to convince you to lower your price to reflect the market. The price they should have had you marketing your property at in the first instance. The best defence against this is to obtain 3 or 4 valuations after which you should be able to spot the agents relying on this ruse.

Imaginary Buyers

Some estate agents will attempt to lure property owners to list with them by insisting they have the perfect buyer for their property already on their books. This is generally a bare faced lie. To counter this do not be afraid to ask for the name of the prospective buyer, this will put the agent on the spot and you will probably witness some stuttering and shuffling of feet. Keep your eye out for any hesitation or negative body language exhibited by the agent when answering this question.

Lack of Communication

Do not be surprised that if after your home has been on the market a while, the person who was so eager to take your calls to begin with has suddenly lost the ability to return a phone call. Be even less surprised if you try to get an estate agent out to value your property, and they don’t show or never even call you back. This is a common occurrence.

Do not give up hope though, for the most part, most estate agents are honest hard-working people who are doing their best to sell their clients' properties at a fair price, but it is still a good idea to watch out for these signs that an agent may be lying.