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Ten Questions To Ask Your Estate Agent

Mar 21, 2008
When moving home it is imperative that you pick the right estate agent. You want an agent that is going to do your property justice and get you a good price. Before you sign anything and enter any deal with an estate agent there are number of questions you need to ask; here are ten of the best questions to ask to make sure you receive efficient service.

1. The first question to set to your estate agent is how much they charge. Although rates vary a general rule of thumb is around one to three percent of the eventual sale price. At this stage it is essential to negotiate if you feel the cost is too high, it is worth remembering though that price usually reflects the effort the estate agent will put into the sale of your home. A lower price may in fact harm the service you receive. Before entering an agreement ensure to get all details put down in writing so you can highlight any discrepancies you may have.

2. Another question you should ask your estate agent is whether they are a member of any ombudsman schemes. In the UK there are no compulsorily legislative regulation schemes and hence membership to a body such as the NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) or the OEA (Ombudsman of Estate Agents) is essential. These types of organisations ensure their members follow strict guidelines and have comprehensive complaints measures in place.

3. Thirdly you should find out how viewings will take place, obviously you know your property better than anyone and will want to show it off to its best potential. Research however has shown that houses that are viewed in the presence of an estate agent do sell quicker, this is definitely worth bearing in mind. Usually a balance of the two will maximise the viewings and increase your chances of a sale.

4. Find out from you estate agent the prices of similar houses in the area. Any agent worth their salt will be able to answer this question in a knowledgeable way, if they cannot, it may be time to find a new representative. Although the answer to this question may vary greatly due to market fluctuations, its purpose is not really to gain a figure but work out the level of knowledge possessed.

5. Ask how your property will be marketed; websites are increasingly being used in the industry and to maximise the chance of a sale, online marketing is essential. The older methods of local papers are still worthwhile but finding an estate agent who is up to date with technological developments is highly desirable.

6. Try to find out what the notice period is if you do want to change your agent. Some will require a two to four week period before you can make the change. Changing however is not always advisable; twelve weeks should be allowed for the sale of your house unless you are utterly unhappy with the service you are receiving.

7. Assess the level of sales that fall through with that particular estate agent. According to research it is estimated that eighteen percent of sales fail to reach completion. This is normally down to the buyers so a figure below this percentage will reveal how devoted an agent is to pursuing a sale.

8. A good question to ask is what kind of information they will be including in the marketing literature, this should ideally be asked after they have looked around so you can assess whether you estate agent has noticed your property's strongest selling points. It can also give a good indication of the agent's marketing skills.

9. It may seem a given but asking how to stay in touch with your agent is essential. Selling your house can be stressful and not being able to get hold of your representative can make the process more so. Test the water by making enquiries before the house has gone on the market, if they take their time getting back to you, you can presume they give buyers the same level of service.

10. Finally a vital question that needs to be answered is the time the average property takes to sell. If properties are on the books for no time at all it may be an indication that your agent is underselling. The opposite can be asserted if properties are on the books for extended periods of time.

By following these ten points the sale of your house should be speedy and efficient. Finding the right agent is a fundamental element of selling houses and if you want your move to go ahead swiftly, the services you and the buyer receive could be the deal breaker.
About the Author
Property expert Thomas Pretty makes sure any estate agent worth hiring can answer these ten questions knowledgeably and effectively.
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