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Estate Agents – Friend Or Foe For House Sellers

Posted by Lewis Murphy on June 15, 2022

Selling your home is never an easy proposition. Should you tidy up the property, giving it a lick of paint; maybe sort out those nagging problems that you have never quite got round to doing or is it just money down the drain? Then there is the question of which estate agent to use. If there is only one horse in town then there probably is not much of an alternative unless there is another in a nearby town. However, if you have more than one estate agent reasonably close then how do you choose which to hire? What are your options?

Firstly you should get each of them to come and give your property the once over. They will then give you a valuation on what they think the property is likely to sell for in the current market. Now comes the tricky bit. Do you believe them? Chances are if you get 3 different valuations done you will get 2 vaguely similar prices and one that is a lot higher. Why is this? Do they know something that the others don’t? Do they recognise quality housing when they see it and the others just have awful taste? Sorry, but neither of these is likely to be the case. What they are banking on is basic human nature, i.e. greed. After all, why would you not choose an estate agent that thinks they can sell your property for 5%-15% more than the other agents? You would have to be a simpleton to go with an agent quoting a lower valuation, wouldn’t you? The answer is usually “No”.

What estate agents do, and this does vary wildly from area to area, is provide an estimated value that your property will sell for. Note the word “estimated”. It is quite common practice for estate agents, particularly in areas where competition is fierce, to over value properties just to secure your signature. After 2-3 months of either no viewings or lots of viewings and no offers the estate agent will then gently take you to one side and suggest that you drop your price to try to generate more interest – usually because “The market is being a little sluggish at the moment” or “Houses in this area are not selling as quickly as they used to.” By this time sellers are starting to get rather edgy and more than willing to do as the “experts” recommend. No great loss for them, just a little longer until they get their cut of the house sale, but for you it is months of anxiety and trying to keep the house spotless for potential viewings – not an easy task if you have children.

Choosing the right estate agent in the first place should ensure your house sells reasonably quickly and for a good price. So, when the estate agents are valuing your property, how do you choose which one to sign with?

  • Is there anything you can do to make the property more attractive to potential buyers (inside and out)?
  • The British are incredibly coy talking about money but it has to be done. Ask what properties in the area have been selling for (similar size and condition).
  • Find out how much commission they will receive.
  • What will they do to promote your house to potential buyers, i.e. newspapers, Internet?
  • What is included in the price and what are extras
  • How long will it take to get the details prepared?
  • Are they prepared to show buyers around the house if you don’t think you will do your property justice?
  • How long do they think it will take to get sold at the price they are recommending?

Choosing an estate agent is not just about how much they say you can sell the property for and how little you will have to pay them for the service. Your estate agent must advise you if your property exterior needs to be cleaned or tidied up. Similarly if your house needs to be de-cluttered they need to gently point you in the right direction. Kerb appeal is very important to potential buyers and a house stuffed to the brim with all your personal bits and pieces will divert attention from the room proportions and any architectural features; quite probably sending a subliminal message that the house won’t be big enough for them and all their clutter.

Even with all these things done it can still take between 3-12 months to sell your home. For many this is an interminable wait, especially in cases of divorce, financial difficulty or similar situations where it is imperative to sell your property quickly. In these instances there is an alternative. There are companies geared up to buy your property in around 4 weeks!! Yes, that is weeks, not months. Choosing this option will not get you the best possible price but when you consider all the factors it is not usually very far off what you would eventually get if your property were sold on the open market once you have deducted the valuation fee, estate agent fees, Home Information Pack, legal fees and probably having to drop your initial asking price by between 5%-15% (and maybe a little extra if the market is dropping or to encourage a quick sale). Then there is all the stress and worry over when you will get a buyer and if they are going to pull out (delaying the process still further and adding to your costs). These cash buyers will pay your legal and valuation fees, there is no need for a HIP and the sale is guaranteed with completion on a date convenient for you. What more could you ask for?


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