Currently, the broadcast media are awash with new models that claim to sell your house for a fraction of the costs that you might pay using a more established route to market – such as an independent, bricks and mortar, high street estate agent. Calculations of the potential savings are being distributed with abandon – but the current statistics are that over 95% of current residential sales still use the tried and tested model. So are the new kids in town just starting to attract smarter consumers, or is the enticement of a potentially cheaper fee covering over ‘potholes in the road’ that carry potentially serious consequences for the vendor?
Putting aside that almost all estate agents are already online, and also that in many parts of the country the so-called modern, efficient models can actually cost more than the existing competition; Marcus Whewell, CEO of The Guild of Professional Estate Agents, explores some of the more important aspects of the debate – and ultimately who is more likely to deliver the best result for the client?
The first, crucial point is one of motivation. With a physical estate agent, you only pay a fee when they successfully sell your property; and the agent will usually earn more commission for achieving a higher price. Therefore, there is a key, mutual interest in securing the best possible commercial result according your preferences (such as your timescale for moving). With many of the new models, you pay a significant, up-front, non-refundable amount whatever happens – for example, even if you never receive a single offer on your home!
Secondly, selling a property is much more than just putting it on the internet. Markets are constantly changing, and a really good agent will be constantly evaluating the price and marketing it in the light of the latest conditions, such as what else is available to buy locally, and the mood of the market. He/she will also be utilising a wide variety of personalised tools, such as contacting their extensive database, distributing leaflets, communicating via social networking, and facilitating ‘open house’ events. These elements can be crucial in getting best offers, and yet very few, if any of the new models to date offer such services to their clients.
The next key stage in selling your home is qualifying the offer. Almost a third of agreed sales fail to complete, and one key reason is that the buyer may struggle to access the necessary finance. A local professional agent will have established the motivations and financial status of the applicant, thereby reducing the likelihood of disappointment and further delays and, therefore, also of losing other potential buyers who would have completed the purchase.
Negotiating for the sale of your own home can be a tricky business. This is a very important and emotive subject, and normally the intercession of a professional can turn an ‘insulting offer’ into an acceptable compromise. Again, you need the help of someone who can use local knowledge and experience, together with insights into the relative situations and of the parties involved, to craft a mutually acceptable position.
Currently, one of the biggest difficulties in moving is managing complicated chains, which require the involvement and sometimes coercion of many separate parties, such as other estate agents and their solicitors. Many leading agents now assign their most talented employees to progressing pending sales, even on behalf of the other agents in the chain who may not be so diligent. This can literally make or break a sale and again, it makes sense to seek out an estate agent who knows all the parties involved - and who is strongly financially motivated to complete the sale as quickly and efficiently as possible, not just move on to the next listing.
Selling and renting property has become increasingly regulated, and trust and confidence flows from dealing with an individual who can offer expert and appropriate advice. The best local agents will employ staff who have proven expertise and who have achieved recognised qualifications in their particular specialisms. They are, therefore, better able to manage the myriad of problems that normally accompany any potential sale or purchase – increasing the likelihood of success. Some of the newer models employ so-called local experts who are in truth, neither of the two, and so may fall short on offering the help when you most need it. Only a local expert could advise confidently on local schools and catchment areas, dentists and hospitals, commuting times, potential new developments in the area, or seasonal factors such as tourism and special events.
When it comes to the move itself, there are many other services that the purchaser or investor may require; the more obvious are a solicitor, a removals company, and maybe a mortgage provider, but you may also want specialist tax advice, the name of a trustworthy builder, plumber of electrician, gardener, or interior designer…or just a key holding service and a locksmith! The best agents will know just such local professionals who are proven and trustworthy. Their business is to a large part dependent on their local reputation, and so will have built up a network of similar experts who can work together to help their clients.
Many local agents will also be part of a national network such as the Guild of Professional Estate Agents, offering joint marketing for your property across up to a thousand other similar offices. Almost 10% of buyers come from out of area, and agents will have established this as part of their conversations and can, therefore, put together purchasers and sellers who otherwise may not have connected.
So the true points of difference are actually not technology or enticements of low fees, but a proven network of local professionals who are connected into their local communities, and are financially committed to successfully selling your property.
You won’t find this on the TV adverts, but the really smart money will look for strong personal commitment, experience and expertise, great levels of service, and consistent positive outcomes for clients.
‘He who serves best will profit most’.
You can achieve a far better result by choosing a member of The Guild of Professional Estate Agents.