Your decision will determine the success of your sale and how much you achieve for your property.
Are they professional?
It may seem an obvious question, but it still deserves an answer: What do they look like? Are they smart, well presented, polite, bright and responsive? Do they seem to care about their own brand? Competence (or lack thereof) is often on display at the outset. We all remember the signs we ignored with hindsight; noticing them before is the y to making sure you have a successful move and achieve the best possible price for your home.
Do they tie you into a lock-out period?
(Because we don't...)
Lock in period, tie in period, exclusivity clause; there are many names for agents' contract clause, locking you into their service but we are yet to find a single way in which it benefits a vendor. The most common argument used is that the agent can spend more money on the sale with the business secured. This falls down in two principal ways: 1) A successful, quality agent will utilise the same tools of marketing as another, contracted term or not - and 2) the very existence of this term reduces the incentive to treat your sale with urgency. Another sale reaching the end of its contract will always take precedence. Our advice: avoid like the plague.
Do they come recommended?
Reputation is a fine thing: it demonstrates the collective feedback on a company and so recommends a great service or warns of a poor service. It can be distorted or exaggerated, but it does have at its core the experience of the majority. It is therefore unlikely that a great firm will have a terrible reputation and vice versa. While marketing is a useful indication of what a company aspires to be, reputation tells you how close they have come to achieving their aim. Ignore it at your peril.
Do they offer a bespoke service?
The word bespoke is used to conjure ideas of chauffeur driven cars and luxury service, but here we mean simply that everyone is different. Your needs are not he same as the needs of any other vendor. A criticism sometimes levelled at the larger agents is that they treat clients as numbers rather than individuals and as such the round peg of your needs are squeezed into the square hole of their services. The best way to make sure that an agent will serve your needs is to mystery shop them outside the context of being a potential client.
Do they have a history in the area?
How many properties have they sold in the area? Do they live in the area? Are they part of their local community? Do they contribute to the community? The more properties they have sold in the area, the more they will understand the vagaries of the local property market. The other questions may initially appear irrelevant but the more they are integrated into the local community, the better they will understand the area and its merits and the better they will be able to sell your property and the more links they have, the more avenues to source buyers they will have.
Do they have a good website?
A website that is clear and informative with a simple, intuitive navigation will help to sell your property as clients will spend more time browsing and extend a greater level of trust to the firm behind the site. The quality of information presented, and the way in which it is presented will determine the quality of interest in potential buyers booking viewings. The greater the number of genuinely interested applicants walking through your door when your property first comes to market will largely determine the price achieved.
How well do they present properties?
The better the presentation of your home in all forms of marketing, the more people will request a viewing. This is the key factor in getting you the most money in the shortest time, thereby putting you in the best position to be able to negotiate the best possible move. This will require some assistance from you as will be covered later in this guide, but it is essential you choose an agent that will best compliment your efforts. As a reference, all of our properties are photographed by our excellent professional photography department.
Do they offer print advertisements?
Magazines and newspapers have a valuable place in the overall marketing scheme. Whether to get applicants or to decorate your coffee table during viewings, these are a good tool to add a little glamour and interest. They do come at some cost to your agent but a quality agent with a good success rate will be able to afford to offer this superior exposure for your property.
Do they market on all aggregating sites?
Aggregating sites ate the starting point for most people's search for property so a well managed exposure on all these sites is essential when choosing an agent. A common bugbear with buyers is that properties are not 'current' on these sites or are incorrectly listed, meaning agents have left the properties online when they are no longer instructed, properties are already sold but listed as available or the site is clogged up with historical sold properties. To avoid this frustration, our properties are listed as 'for sale' until an offer is accepted, 'under offer' until exchange and 'sold' only until completed.
Do they have a communication policy?
Your agent communicates the availability of your property to the world, communicates the details to interested parties and communicates the negotiable elements to each party to secure the sale. It is crucial to the service you receive AND the success of your sale. A buyer's experience should be as important to you as a vendor's experience as the former will affect the latter. Test that they are up to speed. It is essential that they give you updates after each viewing and daily with general feedback to adapt strategies if applicable. In negotiations, timing is key - make sure it is not at this late stage that you find out that they come up short.
What is their conversion rate?
The conversion rate is the percentage of 'for sale's that become 'sold's. A sale can fall through for any number of reasons, most of which a competent firm should be able to avoid but vague pronouncements of 'all our sales go through fine' should be dismissed. As a reference, the market average was around 66% in 2012 but we achieved 96% success in 2012. The other relevant figure of 'percentage of total stock sold in any given month' can be as low as 10% with some agents. As a reference, we have surpassed 50% in every one of the last 12 months.