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If you’re in the early stages of selling your property, you’ll be all too keenly aware just how many risks there seem to be. Whether it’s wondering whether or not now is the right time to make the big move or whether you’ll regret switching to a new location or new type of house, it’s definitely true that risk is the name of the game.
However, perhaps one of the lesser-known risk areas when it comes to selling a property is the risk that you’ll choose the wrong estate agent. This might not sound like much of a danger, but your choice of an estate agent can make a difference both to how stressful the process is and also to how much of the sale proceeds you receive at the other end. This article will explore some of the main ways to avoid getting stung by a bad estate agent.
In the era of “fake news”, it can sometimes seem a little pointless to spend time sifting through reviews – and wondering whether what you’re reading is authentic or whether it has been planted there by the estate agency’s marketing team. The good news is that there are still plenty of ways in which you can make the most of the review options out there.
The first way you can do this is by going to a site which is as independent and unbiased as possible, and which at least does something to authenticate that reviews are legitimate. One such site is AllAgents – which requires Facebook or email verification in order to post a review. You can also get reviews the old-fashioned way – via word of mouth. If you know of anyone in your local area who has recently sold a property that is comparable to yours, it may be worth asking them which estate agent they used – and whether or not they’d recommend that agency.
That’s why it’s important to ensure that you get a fixed fee commitment as early as possible in the process. That way, you’ll be able to budget accurately from the start – and will not be left wondering whether you’re going to have a chunk of your hard-earned sale proceeds snatched away from you at the other end. Your estate agent may, quite reasonably, say that they need to leave some leeway just in case there are any unforeseen costs – but the scope of these costs, as well as concrete examples and a maximum potential fee for each, should be included. If your estate agent refuses to provide these, it may be worth considering going with another provider.
Another option is to simply remove the estate agent from the equation altogether and use a platform such as Purple Bricks for selling. Increasingly, more and more people are making the decision to use online services which are self-directed, meaning that the seller is the one who does most of the legwork. Before making a decision to either go it alone or use a site like this, it’s worth first thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of doing it this way.
The advantage is that the fees are often much less than those charged by traditional estate agents, but the disadvantage is that some of the more onerous tasks involved in selling a property, such as meeting prospective buyers for viewings or taking offers and negotiating on them, will in some cases fall to you. If you have the sort of lifestyle which can accommodate viewings, negotiating and more, this is a great way to save cash – but do think twice about whether or not it’s something you can accommodate time-wise.
If you do decide to go for a traditional estate agent and things don’t work out, it’s often worth a try to simply be bold and upfront with them. It’s important to emphasise that you won’t be a pushover – and if you feel that something is unfair, you should say so! By being clear about your requirements, you can increase the chances that your agent won’t risk trying to pull a fast one. As the client, you’re in the driving seat – so don’t be afraid to be bold.
There are a number of ways you can use your leverage to get your estate agent to do what you want. Firstly, if they hit you with hidden charges then you can threaten to leave negative reviews once the process is completed. You can also consider making a complaint to the National Association of Estate Agents, which is the regulatory body that oversees many estate agencies – but check first that your particular agent is registered with this one and not a different one. You could also investigate making a report to one of the two redress schemes which all agent must sign up to The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme is one, and the other is the Property Redress Scheme. Ultimately, you can also threaten to walk away: this is especially useful if you’ve hired an agent who works on a “pay on completion” basis, as walking away could lead to the agent failing to collect their commission altogether.
As a seller, it’s important to remember that you are in the driving seat when it comes to the relationship with the estate agent. It’s you who will ultimately be paying their fees out of your sale proceeds – and if you don’t want to fall victim to dodgy practices, it’s best to follow the tips outlined above for a hopefully smooth sale.
After we receive your details, one of our Property Advisors will call you within 24 hours to confirm details about your home and to explain our process if you choose to proceed. For more about selling your home to Spring see How it Works.