Online vs High Street, the true value of your Estate Agent

Anthony Lomas of Boxall Brown & Jones urges home sellers to carefully consider the well-reasoned points made within this article.

Firstly, it is worth considering all agents as “online”.  With Rightmove, Onthemarket.com and Zoopla being the main sources of research for house buyers we all have an online presence.  Buyers now have unprecedented access to the entire market placing all agents on a level playing field, whether they be a large corporate, a local independent or a budget online agent.

The phrase “Local Property Expert” is often quoted, but what constitutes an expert and are they qualified by recognised body?  Are they a Member of the National Association of Estate Agents (MNAEA/FNAEA), or a qualified member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (AssocRICS/MRICS/FRICS) or an RICS Registered Valuer?  More often than not property owners are selling their most valuable commodity, surely it would be wise to ensure the agent advising you and representing your best interests is an experienced, qualified, professional property expert.  You also want to make sure they are on hand to see the process through.

I recently advised a vendor that their property was being advertised at a price significantly below it’s true value by an online agent.  Obviously it was likely to sell quickly but in doing so, and by “saving thousands” by using a well known budget online agent, they were in fact set to lose many tens of thousands of pounds by not considering the consequences of seeking a bargain.  I am certainly not suggesting that this is typical of the conduct of budget online agents and sometimes they are successful however I am suggesting that it is vital to seek good advice from a qualified property professional.

A good agent will be able to provide advice regarding all aspects of your property in order to ensure it is prepared for sale and presented at its best, advertise your property with quality marketing materials, undertake viewings if appropriate, negotiate the highest price, work alongside your solicitor to progress the sale through to completion tackling any hurdles that arise as & when they do, negotiate exchange and completion dates and ensure a smooth handover on completion day.  Beware the hidden costs too, does your agent provide a free viewing service?  Do you have to pay more for services that might catch you out?

Agreeing a sale is only the beginning of the journey. The conveyancing process is an incredibly stressful and complex process filled with potholes and difficulties which can easily derail a sale.  Your agent should be experienced, capable and competent enough to work with your solicitor and to tackle these problems as they arise, guiding you and the sale of your property through to completion in a jargon free and understandable manner.

It is important to ask your “online agent” if they offer these services and to receive a guarantee from them that once you have paid the upfront fee that they do not take their eye off the ball.  Will they proactively work to sell your property and act in your best interests by keeping in touch with you on a regular basis, updating you on how the sale of your house is progressing, if so, how?

Consider carefully whether you are confident that being charged up front will ensure that you are receiving the best service and advice?  The RICS recently released an article which likened the situation to “Fast Food vs. a Restaurant”; one thing that is certainly is that you will get what you pay for.

Working as I do for a high street agent such as Nock Deighton I obviously have a biased opinion, and yes, we do charge more than £500.  Personally I would take comfort from that because as Red Adair famously once said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

What feels like a saving on the surface could cost you money in the long run.

This article was written by Ross D’Aniello, BSc (Hons) AssocRICS, RICS Reg. Valuer, MNAEA, MARLA.

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