It should be simple, right?
In the olden days you'd pick up the paper, or you might even have let your fingers do the walking (remember that - I wonder what JR Hartley's upto nowadays?), or maybe you'd have a wander into town and see who's the flavour of the month, and you'd then invite a few round and choose the nicest/cheapest/sharpest/most aggressive/whatever it was that hooked you in. It used to be a fairly easy thing to do, and all this new technology was supposed to make things easier..
Fast forward to 2015 and there is so much information out there that choosing an Estate Agent just got harder. They used to be in a nice row all together, in town on the high street, but today's picture is much different. There are still some on the high street, but some now work from home, some work out of offices on industrial estates, and some appear to operate from Timbuktu. It can be difficult to see the woods for the trees, and know which way to jump.
So, where do you start?
First of all, you need to think about how much you're happy doing yourself? Some people love it and are brilliant photographers and know how to write a good ad, they've also watched enough episodes of Phil & Kirsty to be able to show somebody round, no problem. Most people however, aren't, so you need to decide which camp you're in. For the sake of this piece, I'm going to assume that you aren't Phil or Kirstie, and you're looking for a traditional Estate Agent in Sherwood to do the do, so first things first..
You need to do some research
Who's selling property near you is an obvious one, and maybe it's worth popping to see a few agents on your high street to see how you're looked after as a potential purchaser. The newspaper is old hat, so I wouldn't look there, and the same can be said for Yellow Pages - that's why it's now so tiny - it takes up less space in the recycling bin, so instead you take to Google but that's a blur in itself so what do you do?
One of the great things about Google is the ability to look at a map and see businesses in the area - don't just look at the two or three map listings that are previewed when you search, but open the full map up and look. Try searching Estate Agents in Mapperley Park, click on Maps, and then narrow the areas down. You are then presented with all the local agents with a red dot and white square inside. If you hover over the dot, a preview window opens up displaying an image and also showing the number of reviews the agent has had, and giving an aggregate score out of 5 for them.
Whilst the Google review score isn't the be-all and end-all, it's a good barometer of how the agent takes their customer service, and you should treat the reviews as you would on Trip Advisor. You can then take a look at the different agents websites and weigh-up if you like the look of them. Do they come across as honest? Do they publish their fees? Do they take a nice photograph and have well written advertisements?
Draw up a shortlist
From your research, start to draw up a shortlist. People tend to see three agents, and invite them to come and see you.
Before they come, you should decide what you want to ask - you want to ascertain what price they think you'll achieve, what they'll do to achieve it, and what they will charge for doing it.
Be careful here - unscrupulous agents have been known to inflate their valuations to win your instruction, and you are then encouraged to reduce the asking price to something more reallistic after a few months with little activity.
Prepare your questions
Get yourself ready, prepare your questions, and make notes. As a guide, I'd suggest asking each agent how long they take to sell houses? - The figures are available on Rightmove, so they should be able to tell you. Boards breed boards, so it may be the case that they have hundreds listed but none of them are selling very quickly. Do you want to just be another unsold instruction?
You may also ask what percentage of their sales actually complete? Sometimes, selling the house is the easy bit - getting the sales through to completion can be an art-form.
Ask if they are members of RICS or the NAEA? It's no guarantee of service, but it should at least give you confidence in their ability. Would you holiday with a non ABTA travel agent?
Choose the agent you like - the one that you trust.
There are obviously many other questions, but primarily, decide what is important to you. Get the answers you want and have them backed-up and don't just be sold by the price!
Ultimately you should choose an agent that you trust. One that you can work with! Selling a property is fraught with complications, so you need somebody who is in your corner.
Google reviews, recommendations from friends & family, and testimonials from other clients are all useful. If you can couple that with a verified statistics, and great customer service, you should be on to a winning choice!
If you want more tips on choosing an agent and marketing your property successfully, you can download our Selling Tips book for free here.