What to Look for in a Good Estate Agent

When we are selling, for most of us, the primary consideration is to find an estate agent who will get the best price for your property, as quickly as possible. As buyers, we are looking to find our ideal next home, so we want an agent who will show us properties which meet our criteria. estate agents woodbridge

Over the last twenty or so years, the way we look for new properties has changed. Property sales can be viewed as a form of retailing and the growth in online retail regularly hits the headlines. More and more of us are buying online and buying property is no exception. Having said this, very few people buy a property purely from an online description, without viewing it first [though, amazingly, it does happen occasionally!]. However, the online search and view is the starting point for virtually all property purchases. Virtually all property searches are conducted online. Gone are the days of pouring through the property descriptions in the local papers or trailing round the estate agent’s shops, looking for the ideal property. Nowadays, if it isn’t advertised online, then it will not be seen by the vast majority of people looking for property. Even the larger estate agents, with their own web sites, listing hundreds or even thousands of homes, use web portals in addition to their own web sites, to maximise exposure to the market. These web portals are where the majority of buyers look for properties.

Whilst the widespread use of web portals for marketing property for sale makes life easy for buyers, it can make it more difficult to differentiate between agents. This is especially important if you are looking for the best agency to sell your property. Virtually all estate agents will advertise on one or more of the major portals, including Rightmove, Zoopla and S1 Homes. If an estate agent does not use one or more of these portals, they will be missing out a significant segment of the market.

Assuming that you want to choose an estate agent who advertises on one or more of the major portals, what else should you be looking for? Or indeed, do you need an estate agent at all? After all, many people choose to sell their own cars, rather than trade in, in an attempt to save money on the dealer’s margins. Why not do the same with your home?

The majority of estate agents will tell you that this route is fraught with danger. Of course, why would they tell you otherwise? And, it certainly isn’t easy, but it can be done and, if successful, can save thousands in fees. The principle difficulties are complying with the legal requirements and risks of property description and advertising and marketing the property widely. As discussed, the vast majority of property searches are conducted through the major property portals. These portals operate on a subscription basis, rather than a transaction basis. So it is not generally possible to list an individual property directly and pay for that single property. However, there are agencies who will, for a fixed fee, allow you to list your property details with them and they will, in turn, enable those details to be listed on a web portal. However, these don’t generally include the market leading portals and so market penetration can be limited. There is also another minor issue, related to image and association. There are buyers out there, including buy to let investors. They trawl through the properties for sale by owners and look to make below market offers, as cash buyers. Just as, for example, we would expect to pay less for a second hand car bought from a private seller, advertising in Autotrader, than from a dealer, buyers often have similar views about property for sale. If it is advertised by the owner, then they generally expect to pay less.