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.

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.

However, there is a bit of potential good news for those who want to enter the DIY property selling market! This applies to all properties, whether sold through an estate agent or otherwise. And that is when there is competition for the property. Properly priced and marketed, multiple interested parties can push up the price in a bidding process. So, if you have a show house standard property in a highly desirable area, then even as a DIY agent, it is possible to instigate some competition for the property, through astute local marketing. So if this is your position, why not have a go? If your property doesn’t stand out from the crowd though, you may get more from selling through an agent, even allowing for fees.

Assuming, at this stage, you have decided not to go down the DIY route and have now identified a short list of estate agents who advertise in the major property portals, as well as their own web site or in addition to a local portal such as a solicitor’s property centre, you can be confident that a good and inviting property description will reach the full market. Each agent on the short list would be able to attract potential buyers who will get in touch to view the property.

At this stage, we move from the marketing phase to the sales phase. How will your chosen agent convert these interested prospects into competing bidders for your property? Sales professionals will recognise how vital the way viewers are handled is, to the success of the venture. Sadly, all too often, the hard work that has been put into a high quality property description and marketing on the major internet portals, is not followed through with good sales support. Often, with many estate agent’s packages, the home owner is left to show viewers around the property and develop a rapport and try and sell the virtues and features of the property to the viewers. All in a days work if you are a sales professional, but a bit more of a challenge if you aren’t. let’s be clear about the abilities of a good sales professional. Sadly, if a viewer doesn’t like your property, they will not buy it! Even from the best sales people. Tales of super salesmen who can sell snow to Eskimos, are just tall tales. The art of a good sale is to entice the viewer who is choosing between similar properties, to choose yours. The sales process can influence decisions and sway opinion, but will never force someone to buy something they don’t want.

From the estate agent’s perspective, showing people around your property is often more time consuming than preparing a schedule and marketing on the internet. So why not cut the expense and get the home owner to put in the time? This approach may mean that there may not be so many offers on the property and it may take longer to sell. But, from the agent’s perspective, it can be a numbers game. If an agent focuses attention on listing new properties rather than selling those already listed, then, even though they take longer to sell, there is no additional cost to holding stock, so they make more money for less effort. This is a good approach for the agent, but not necessarily so good for you, the seller.

If you are happy to conduct viewings on your own home, this can be another opportunity to save money. But be careful, check that the agent is actually charging you less for the lower level of service. On the other hand, if you want to be the first amongst equals and sell your property ahead of others in the street, then it can be worth listing with an agent who will conduct the viewings and maximise the probability of a sale, from each viewing. This is likely to cost more, in terms of the agent’s commission. Alternatively, the agent may charge per viewing. However, an agent who undertakes viewings as part of the inclusive package may prove better value, as they are more heavily incentivised to sell faster.

Finally, do you choose an agency with salaried employees, or sales people who work on a commission basis? Salaried agents have actually been heard to say that the competition ‘work off commission, so they are just desperate to sell your property!‘ And this is a bad thing??? Not so. If you can find an agent who employs sales people on commission, then RESULT! You share a common goal… The sale of your property, as quickly as possible and for as much as possible. These are the people who will provide advice and coaching on how to dress your property to impress, what gives best kerb appeal and who will show your property at times to suit the viewer. All with the aim of getting that sale. Those who can’t succeed, don’t stay in business!

So, armed with these thoughts, get a few quotes from agents. You now know the questions to ask. One final note of caution. Just like buying double glazing, the agent who comes to value your home may pressure you to sign up there and then. And, just like with double glazing, there is no offer that is only available at that point in time, which will not be repeated the next day, or the next week, if you call back to take up their offer. So, weigh up the alternatives, look at what other properties each agent has for sale, how well presented are they? How easy to find in the search engines? How well do you get along with the agent?

Why You Don’t Need an Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

Before you start, I am going to ask you the same question at the beginning of the article and at the end:

“Do you think it is possible to sell without an Estate Agent”. Answer honestly and read on as I reveal to you how wrong you are!!

The UK general public, including you and me, is currently in a mindset which could be unnecessarily costing you thousands of pounds a year. However, this is through no fault of your own and you are certainly not alone. All it takes to break out of this costly “culture” is a little bit of knowledge and I am going to give you this knowledge.

It seems to be the Western Way that if a job is worth doing, we should pay somebody else to do it for us. This could be put down to two factors:

Number 1) We are too lazy to get off our behinds and take matters into our own hands

Number 2) We have been “brainwashed”

Personally, I would go with number two. Now you may be wondering what on earth this has to do with selling your home but stick with me because this article could well help you to save £££’s and change your life, for good.

For many years, the public have sold their houses through Estate Agents. Since then the Estate Agent industry has gradually led our society to believe that this is the only way of selling your property and if you go at it alone, you are bound to fail. I am going to assure you that this is NOT the case!! If anybody says to you that you cannot sell your property privately, they are lying!!

Sure, this may have been the case 10-15 years ago when the industry methods and techniques were not as available to ordinary people like me and you but times have changed, a great deal. There are now thousands of UK home owners who manage to secure a buyer and sell their home through their own efforts. Not only does this mean that they are in control of the process from start to finish, it also means that they save thousands of pounds that they would have had to say goodbye to if they had used an Estate Agent.

Ask yourself, “What can an Estate Agent do that I cannot do myself”. I will tell you right now that the answer to this question is NOT A LOT. Sure you have to know what you are doing but this information is now freely available thanks to the world wide web. If you want some awesome pointers that are going to help you to sell your home, let me know, we have free copies of “The Ultimate Guide To Selling”. We have created this jaw dropping guide full of insider secrets to the site as a gift to YOU. Seriously, with absolutely no catches, we’ll send you the e-book that has Estate Agents shaking in their boots, why? Because they know they have been rumbled and in a big way!

So for a moment, lets actually take a look at how an Estate Agent will try and sell your home:

1) They have big fancy offices – When was the last time you visited an Estate Agents office and how many people were in there. I would presume that the answers to these question are “Ages ago” and “not a lot”. The huge success of the online world has meant that the internet is now by far the place to go when people are looking for their new home. Very rarely will anybody set out to visit an estate agent to view property when they can do the same job from the comfort of their own home. All a fancy office means to you is that you are going to have to help pay for it with the extortionate fees they will charge. How much your selling fee do you think actually goes into marketing your property? When you break it down, you will literally be gobsmacked about the actual cost of advertising your property and what an Estate Agent will charge you.

So there’s the fancy office out of the way, you simply don’t need one.

2) Property Portals – OK, this is where you may have to invest a little in order to generate a fantastic result. However, it is absolutely no where near what you would expect to an Estate Agent. There are currently around 3/4 big players in the property portal market which have a massive amount of homes for sale from across the UK. Your local Estate Agent will be the first one to tell you that these sites don’t accept listings from private sellers. In a way they are right but if you know where to look (revealed in the “Ultimate Guide To Selling” get it FREE!), there are ways that you can get your property onto these sites.

So, you don’t need an Estate Agent to get noticed on the internet.

3) A For Sale board – Anybody that has ever sold a property will tell you that a good “For Sale” board is worth it’s weight in gold. Even in this technical era, many houses will still be SOLD on the strength of their “For Sale” board alone. Now “For Sale” boards are not just a tool that is available to Estate Agents. We have made them available to everyone! It’s why we have created the most eye-catching and fantastic looking boards available on the market, and all for the same cost as it would take to make your own! They are guaranteed to attract attention to your property.

So, you don’t need an Estate Agent to get a “For Sale” board.

So, what exactly do you need an Estate Agent for? You just don’t! If a buyer is serious, your property will be available through one of the methods that you can take advantage of!! It is why I am so passionate about helping you to achieve your dream move without spending unnecessary £££’s.

Obviously, there are a lot more details to be discussed and they can be found in “The Ultimate Guide To Selling” which we are giving away for absolutely FREE. However, these are three of the main ways that an Estate Agent will use to attract buyers. This is simply an introduction into the world of taking matters into your own hands and selling your home without an Estate Agent.

Now, as I said at the beginning of the article, ask yourself the same question “Do you think that it is possible to sell without an Estate Agent”. I’m writing these last words with a huge smile on my face because I just know what your answer is going to be. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, pick up your personalised For Sale board, request our “Ultimate Guide To Selling”, join the thousands of other sellers across the UK and GET SOLD!!

It’s been great talking to you and I hope that you have a much more positive outlook on selling your home privately. It can be done, it just takes a little knowledge. I wish you luck and hope that you enjoy the success that many others in exactly the same position as you have.

Yours faithfully

Benji Brown
UK Property Author
[email protected]

Why Real Estate Agents Are Dinosaurs

It’s no secret that people don’t trust real estate agents…

And, I’d never trust an agent that I had not seen ‘in action’. But this morning I discovered this article about Sissy Lappin. She’s a real, real estate agent. Yesterday she fired the sharp arrow of truth in to the heart of America’s property industry.

June Fletcher describes the serendipitous moment she discovered Sissy Lappins’s marketing email material in her inbox. She was so chuffed by a real estate broker ‘heralding her own profession as obsolete’ that she decided to call Sissy.

Sissy talks tough…

Are Real Estate Agents Dinosaurs?

With that as her opening statement she was bound to get many of her colleagues off-side. But she makes some really good points. And agents in Australia should heed these lessons…

Home owners who want to sell their own home are discovering they can get all the information they need to list, market, stage, negotiate, and ‘close’ the sale of their own home – on the internet

Thousands of first time Aussie buyers who pocketed more than $20,000 from three separate schemes; – the first home owners grant – the first home bonus – and the first home buyers boost.

They are now struggling to repay loans on homes that have little or no equity.

What helped fuel this negative equity epidemic was the mechanism designed to protect our economy – mobs of first home buyers paying over the odds to claim their pot of gold being handed out by state and federal governments.

Home sellers look for ways to cut the cost of selling

Shrinking equity is now forcing these home owners to look for ways to cut the cost of selling a house. And the biggest cost in a property transaction is the real estate agent’s commission. The average fee paid to agents by home sellers in Australia is about $10,000.

If you live in the inner suburbs of any capital city agents will often charge $10,000 to $20,000 just to advertise your home to buyers (if your house fails to sell say goodbye to the lot, and if it sells you’ll have to pay the commission on top).

Why Real Estate Agents Are Dinosaurs;

Like bank tellers, travel agents, stockbrokers, and other middlemen, real estate agents are no longer critical for the transaction.

The internet has reduced the need for agents.

In the last 18 months, 15,000 agents in Australia have left the industry. And I believe the number of agents will continue to fall as more people turn to technology to help them sell their own home.

Younger home sellers are especially confident they have the ability to sell a house using the internet, and not with a traditional real estate agent. One agent recently lost a juicy commission because a seller sold his home to a Facebook friend before the agent could list it. Another home seller paid his receptionist $1,000 to learn how to sell his home on the web – and it sold.

The future of agents

But no matter how much technology redefines the property industry, I believe that only the best agents will survive. And slowly the public opinion of agents will rise as cowboy agents retreat and retire.

Regardless of the market forces or the latest technology, will real estate agents survive? I think only the best will. Those are the agents who place your needs ahead of their own.