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14 Important Questions to Ask Estate Agents Before Signing a Contract

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All too often, property owners make the important decision of which estate agent to instruct, after having simply spent a couple of hours inviting them round to give their opinions, and then basing their decision on what they hear during that time.

In my experience, property owners ask very few questions and if they do, they are usually the wrong ones.

This is likely why 60% of property owners end up having to change estate agents before eventually selling their property and why properties sell, on average, 21% below the original asking price.

This guide will arm you with 14 powerful questions to ask potential estate agents meaning you will make more informed decisions.

Published in: Real Estate, Business
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14 Important Questions to Ask Estate Agents Before Signing a Contract

  1. 1. 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract
  2. 2. pERRY POWER 14 important questions to ask estate agents to make better decisions Estate agents on the whole, tend not to have the best reputation. All too often, property owners make the important decision of which estate agent to instruct, after having simply spent a couple of hours inviting them round to give their opinions, and then basing their decision on what they hear during that time. In my experience, property owners ask very few questions and if they do, they are usually the wrong ones. This is likely why 60% of property owners end up having to change estate agents before eventually selling their property and why properties sell, on average, 21% below the original asking price*. My aim is to ensure that you as a property seller do not fall into the trap of choosing the wrong estate agent in the first instance, therefore avoiding having to reduce your home’s original asking price. To begin with, I think that much more research and time should be invested when considering which estate agents to contact. Once you’ve made your shortlist, you can then begin to ask each one a number of very important questions. Many sellers restrict themselves to the usual: “How much is my property worth?” and “How much will you charge me?” My suggestions however, will give you a more detailed and in-depth insight into their respective services and approach – much more useful information which will help you to make the right decision from the outset. 02 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract
  3. 3. pERRY POWER On average, what percentage of the original asking price do you achieve? 1 Why: Unfortunately, many estate agents will purposely over-value a property, in order to win the client. If they are able to demonstrate impressive statistics regarding final sale prices compared to original asking prices, then they will want to shout about it. However, if they are unable to give you this figure, then I’d advise you to be concerned. On average, properties in the south east tend to sell at a figure 20% lower than the original asking price. What’s your average time to agree a sale? Why: If an estate agent replies with a vague answer, typically: “normally quite quickly”; then again, alarm bells should be ringing. The average time for a property to remain on the market in the South East is 45 days**. Any figure considerably longer than this should see you striking that agent off your list. 03 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract 2
  4. 4. pERRY POWER What percentage of agreed sales go through first time? 3 Why: This is probably one of the most important questions that you need to ask potential estate agents. They should want to demonstrate that they carefully consider how to agree each good quality sale and aren’t tempted to simply close the deal as quickly as possible. National statistics show that only 60% of agreed sales actually progress to completion. Therefore, you need to think carefully about the potential cost to you in terms of time, money and stress if your sale was to fall through two months’ down the line. Do you offer FREE professional photography? Why: With virtually all buyers turning to the internet to search for property, it is now more important than ever that your estate agent presents your property in the best way possible so that it stands out from the crowd. Estate agents agree that most enquiries are generated from online marketing, but very few agents actually invest in high quality photography which presents their clients’ properties in the best light possible. Some agents do offer professional photography but will charge you for this, this, I do not agree with. 04 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract 4
  5. 5. pERRY POWER Do you take advantage of the ‘premium’ promotion products available from 5 rightmove.co.uk and Zoopla? Why: Few homeowners are aware that all estate agents have access to a heightened level of property promotion on the major property portals such as rightmove.co.uk and Zoopla - promotion which makes an individual property more visible to potential buyers resulting in potentially 40% more interest in your property. Unfortunately, in my experience, few agents invest in the premium promotion products available on these portals. Why? Because it costs them more money and so narrows their profit margin. What is your average click through rate on the property portals? Why: The click through rate is the conversation rate between how many times your property appears in a property search and out of those searches, how many people click through to see the full details, pictures and floor plan. If the estate agent is investing in professional photography and premium promotion on the major property portals, then their click through rate will be impressive. 05 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract 6
  6. 6. pERRY POWER Do you accompany ALL viewings? Why: Many property owners are happy to or even prefer to carry out viewings themselves. This is never advisable for the following reasons: ● Firstly, you are paying your estate agent for their service. Buyers will be attracted to your property (if you follow my guidelines) so you shouldn’t even be expected to carry out a viewing. estate agent is the trained sales expert and should know precisely how to pitch a property to a viewer. estate agent will be the person who negotiates with the buyer on price, if they choose to put in an offer and the viewing acts as that crucial first stage in the negotiation. Your estate agent, as a trained professional, will automatically pick up on specific things mentioned during the viewing which they should then use when negotiating. For example, during the viewing, the buyers may have declared: “This is the biggest garden we have seen at this price” However, they might then offer £10,000 under the property’s asking price Immediately, your estate agent can agree to forward the offer but remind them that the property has a very large garden, compared to other properties valued at the same price. good estate agent will want to give owners tend to say too much. exceptional service. This naturally I have witnessed owners literally talking means that they will want to see all their way out of an offer. A first viewing is viewers personally. an experience which usually appeals to the buyer’s emotions, with logic ● Property playing a more significant role in subsequent viewings. Often, the only question a buyer will ask themselves during a first viewing is: “Can I see myself living here?” The last thing they want or need is the property owner regaling them with every detail about the house - right down to the dustbin collection day. ● Your ● Buyers will be honest with the estate agent who is an independent third party, but may feel obliged to be polite to you as the homeowner. They may say all the right things to you, so as to not be rude to you about your house - but then inform the agent that they didn’t like it. If you were expecting an offer to be made, this can be very deflating. ● Your estate agent will know what the viewer liked about the property in order to make that first enquiry, so will focus on that when showing them around. ● The 7 ● A 06 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract
  7. 7. pERRY POWER Do you accompany viewings outside of normal business hours and on Sundays? 8 Why: Put quite simply, the busiest time for estate agents is when other people aren’t at work, which naturally means evenings and weekends. If your agent isn’t able to accommodate late or weekend viewings, then you could be losing viewings, meaning your house will probably sell at a reduced price. Who will actually be my agent throughout the process and 9 are they a local person? Why: Many larger estate agencies have complex structures, with someone purely responsible for carrying out valuations or launching properties onto the market. Others may be responsible for selling them, whilst someone else progresses the sale through to completion. The issue here is that you may well have based your choice of estate agent on the personality of the person who came to visit you initially, a person who now knows all about you, your house and the reasons why you want to move – all important information for an estate agent. Instead, you could find yourself having to liaise with the office junior, who is given the task of carrying out the viewings and negotiating the sale. Perhaps you may not like or trust this person as much. It’s also equally important that your estate agent is a local person so they know the area well and have in-depth knowledge of local schools, restaurants and transport links. It’s vital that they can confidently answer viewers’ questions relating to the locality. 07 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract
  8. 8. pERRY POWER Does the agency answer telephone calls 24/7, 365 days per year? 10 Why: Let’s assume your estate agent’s office closes at 6.30pm. What then happens if someone calls to enquire about your property at 6.33pm? Usually, the estate agency will have an answering machine, although I know that few people are comfortable with leaving voice messages. Let’s face it, in today’s technologically-advanced age, we’ve become impatient and expect information instantly. It’s therefore unlikely that a potential buyer will leave a voicemail and you run the risk of them not calling back at all, or maybe enquiring about a competing property in the meantime. Your property, among the thousands of other properties on the market, may not get a second thought. The solution is simple. Just make sure you choose an agent who answer telephone calls 24/7, 365 days per year, so an opportunity is never missed. Will you also act as my ‘buying agent’, to help with my next purchase? Why: Your estate agent is the property expert, the professional, and has a whole host of ‘insider’ tools and knowledge which they used effectively, in order to successfully negotiate an excellent sale price for your house. In my opinion however, that’s only half of their job completed. The other half comes in helping you to get the keys to your next house. This includes supporting you with negotiations. 08 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract 11
  9. 9. pERRY POWER By placing your estate agent between you and the estate agent selling the property you want to buy, I can assure you there will be benefits, not least the potential of which can be significant cost savings. This task involves the agent drawing upon all their knowledge and skills to help you negotiate the best possible price and terms for your next house - those same skills they used to secure the best price for the property which you sold. I believe every estate agent should be offering this service to their clients but very few do. If my property isn’t under offer within the first 4 weeks, 12 what will you do? Why: This is a crucial question. Most estate agents will ask you to sign a contract which allows them to act as sole agent for your property, for at least three months. Statistics however, indicate that your property will receive only half as much interest after three or four weeks on the market, compared to weeks one and two. It’s imperative therefore, that your estate agent has a longer term sales plan and will actively keep your property ‘fresh’, rather than allowing it to stagnate. See my other ebook ‘6 simple but powerful tips to increase interest in your property’ 09 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract
  10. 10. pERRY POWER Are you on any 3rd party review websites, such a checkaprofessional.com or allagents.co.uk? 13 Why: An agent who openly joins a 3rd party review website is an agent who is assured about their service and ability. If they are willing to showcase their reputation in the public domain where anyone can leave either a positive or negative review, this shows they are confident and transparent about what they offer. Are you on Facebook or Twitter? Why: Social media is now a part of our everyday life. We use it to both rant and praise, so be sure to research an estate agent’s online presence on these sites. My advice is that if the agent isn’t on Facebook or Twitter, it’s maybe a sign that they haven’t caught up with the modern world and should be avoided at all costs. 10 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract 14
  11. 11. pERRY POWER what REALLY doesn’t matter anymore: ● Who has the biggest window display ● Who has the biggest advert in the local paper ● Who has the most experience. In fact, in today’s rapidly changing world, 30 years’ experience doesn’t mean as much as it once used to. The world has changed dramatically in so many ways over the last five years and unless an agent has adapted (just having Facebook and Twitter accounts doesn’t mean they have adapted), then steer clear. If the agency are stuck in the past, they couldn’t possibly adapt as quickly as needed in order to stay ahead of the pack and keep up with changing property buyer habits. Firstly, the value of your home isn’t determined by the estate agent’s opinion. It is determined by the market of buyers, so you should choose an agent who you trust the most and who you think is going to maximise the value of the property AND THEN discuss the marketing price with then, based on everything I’ve mentioned so far. Secondly, the fee is (or should be) irrelevant. As long as you choose the CORRECT estate agent, the fee actually becomes less important. Many clients have told me: “Even though I trusted agent 1 more and could see their marketing was of a higher quality, I went with agent 2 because they charged less and I thought it may save me money”. Ultimately, many of these same clients were forced to change agents, with some finally selling their property for less than the original asking price – costing them additional time and money. 11 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract SUPER TIP: This is a difficult one but I strongly agree you try and stick to it. DO NOT ask the estate agent how much your property is worth or how much they will charge.
  12. 12. pERRY POWER An estate agent who operates in the way in which I’ve recommended is worth their weight in gold. They are most likely to achieve the highest price possible for your property, and sell in the quickest time The morale of the story is: Choose your estate agent VERY wisely. Everything mentioned in this guide is how my estate agency operates so I know that this approach works. We achieve an average of 98% of the asking price within 19 days of marketing a property with 90% of sales agreed going through first time, regardless of market conditions. I have simply adapted my business to the changing world. p.s. If you found this ebook useful, you may also like ‘Which estate agents should you to call in to give you a marketing consultation’ *Statistics gathered from agent analytics and house price analytics **According to the December 2012 house price analytics market report 12 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract
  13. 13. and Finally... Did you know: On average, 60% of property owners end up having to change estate agents before eventually selling their property with the average property selling for 21% below the original asking price. I have helped hundreds of home owners successfully navigate the challenges of selling. With over 11 years experience in the industry, I am now using that experience to help you avoid the common pitfalls via eGuides, my website forum, Podcasts and Webinars. It’s all FREE! need more help? No problem, get in touch and I would be happy to help. Speak soon perrypower.co.uk @power_perry facebook.com/perrypowerspecialist soundcloud.com/perry-power youtube.com/user/propertyadvice uk.linkedin.com/in/perrypower perry@perrypower.co.uk 13 / Perry Power / 14 Important Questions To Ask Each Estate Agent Before Signing A Contract

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