Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2019
In the past year, complaints against estate agents have risen by 16%*. How can this be? Are standards slipping? No - it’s simply that, thanks to the work of The Property Ombudsman (TPO), the public is increasingly aware of what to expect and how to complain. For both the public and for the more reputable estate agencies, this can only be good news. Any steps that expose and weed out inefficiency, incompetence or dishonesty in the world of property have to be a good thing.
Poor communication, ineffective record-keeping, sloppy complaint-handling, inadequate marketing and misleading terms of business. According to the TPO, these top the list of complaints made against estate agents in the past 12 months - 30,000 in total. Let’s look now at eight services you might reasonably demand as you choose an estate agent to sell your property -
1. How will you price my property?
Currently, many estate agents are crying out for properties to list. The danger is that desperate estate agents will try to tempt you with unrealistic price expectations. Some will simply ask you what you think your property is worth and go along with your estimate. What you need is an ‘informed’ estimate - one based on evidence. Invite your prospective agent to show you details of properties similar to yours that have sold recently. Insist they explain and justify their estmate
2. How well do you vet prospective buyers?
The last thing you want traipsing around your house is time-wasters. Your estate agent should know the background of every potential purchaser - the upper limit of their budget, whether their own property is ready for sale or even sold already.
3. Do you produce floor plans?
Oddly enough, there are still a handful of estate agents who don’t bother with floor plans. They believe that a written description will suffice. Well, it won’t. Neglecting to provide a scale drawing of each floor of your property and of the garden will dramatically diminish the chances of a viewing.
4. Do you take professional standard photographs?
Common sense suggests that premium standard photography would be a top priority. Yet many instances still occur of low-quality photographs taken with a mobile phone of untidy, poorly-prepared rooms. Ideally, the photos should be taken by a team - a specialist professional photographer in tandem with the estate agent, giving guidance.
5. What’s your approach to marketing?
To give your property the greatest chance of a quick sale, you should be looking for a broad-brush marketing campaign. Of course, Rightmove and Zoopla are a must. There’s also Prime Location and the relative newcomer, On The Market to consider. Then, of course, there’s the estate agent’s own website. This should be clean, contemporary and easy to search and navigate. Your estate agent should be really social-media savvy. Do they know their way around Twitter, Instagram and Facebook? Do they know about targeted posts, rather than simply using the scatter-gun approach?
6. How do you handle viewings?
Having a trained consultant to accompany potential viewers around your house is an absolute must. To leave it to you to ‘sell’ your property is tantamount to negligence. A well-trained negotiator will be skilled at highlighting all the plusses of your property.
7. How do you process offers?
Some estate agents are not as scrupulous as they should be in informing you of all offers that are made. You should insist that they, not only inform you of every single offer but also that they carry out some initial negotiation on your behalf.
8. What about once we’ve accepted an offer? What then?
Some estate agents are complacent, believing that they can wash their hands of you, once you’ve accepted an offer. A big mistake. Insist on their support right through to completion. They should be politely, but firmly, following up with the buyer making sure that they don’t drag their feet with processes such as booking a mortgage valuation and a survey. Your estate agent should also be checking up on the buyer’s solicitor.
Don’t be tempted by the siren voices of unscrupulous estate agents. Insist on quality of service every time and you’ll give yourself the best chance of selling your property in good time … and for the right price. Naturally, I’d welcome the chance to help you sell your property. One thing I can guarantee is that with Privilege, world-class service is 100% guaranteed.
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*Source - The Property Ombudsman