What questions should you ask when employing an agent

Interviewing an estate agent? So, you’ve invited two or three agents to your home for a valuation – did you do your research first?

Doing your homework on the agent is absolutely crucial before you meet them as you can be certain they are doing the same about you. Start off on the right foot and prepare yourself for negotiation by “inspecting the merchandise”.

First, put yourself in a buyer’s shoes and examine the marketing from various agents.  Look at a spread of agents from independent to corporate and big to small. Ask yourself the following questions;

  • Do they have a website? Is it easy to use/logical/well presented/information rich?
  • Which property portals do they upload to?
  • Do they advertise in local press? What does their advert look like? How regularly does it appear?
  • Have you looked at their office/window display? Do they look busy/friendly/active?
  • What do their paper/email details look like? Do they include pictures/maps/floorplans?
  • What is the overall standard of presentation of properties? Do they look appealing/sunny?
  • What other forms of communication do they use? Do they have active Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Blog accounts?
  • Are there independent reviews available from other clients? What do they say about the service given?

From the answers to the questions above, you should be able to decide who to invite out to your home. Most clients ask between two and five agents to conduct a valuation.

Buyers want simplicity, speed and comprehensive information. They also appreciate knowledge, experience and honesty so why not line up the following questions for the agent at the valuation;

  • How long have you been working in the city/town/village?
  • Do you hold any professional qualifications?
  • What are, in your view, the best and worst points about my home?
  • Who will be conducting viewings? Will it be you, another member of staff or me?
  • Did you bring comparable evidence to show me? If so, is it specific/time sensitive/accurate?

Lastly, we’ll let you in on some questions many agents will hate to be asked. If the agent you meet can answer these straight away, you’re likely to be talking to an expert;

  • On average, how many viewings does it take to get an offer? (our opinion – approx 10 – 13 to 1)
  • On average, how long do properties stay on the market? (our opinion  – national average is 100 – 110days)
  • What is your branch average click thru rate on Rightmove? (our opinion  – dependent on agent but around 5%)
  • How long will conveyancing take? (our opinion  – around 8 – 10 weeks from offer accepted to completion)
  • If I have to reduce my price, how fast and by what minimum amount? (our opinion  – within 6 weeks, at least 4% to be effective and get the property reloaded as new on websites)
  • Who should do the viewings? (our opinion  – always the agent. 50% better conversion from viewing to offer if they do and better feedback too)
  • What proportion of sales stick together? (our opinion  – 65-70% unless the agent is particularly good or bad at dealing with issues)
  • What are the most important pieces of information the buyers want to see on details? (our opinion  – 52% say maps and 63% say floorplans)

Award points for agents that turn up on time, bring evidence to show you, bring examples of their details/advertising, confirm the valuation in writing or plan out marketing for the first 6 weeks. Watch out for agents that look like they’re sticking to a pre-planned structure on the appointment, call you afterwards to say they have a buyer “ready to view”, ask for a decision immediately or waffle on about their fees without giving you a straight answer. See all the agents you’ve booked then look through your notes to work out who’s best.

What are you getting for your money? Fees vary but inevitably so does the service. Take control – it’s you employing us after all!

Estate agent

Madison Oakley are an independent estate agent and letting agent in Bath. We are a small director led firm with over 50 years combined local experience.To find out more about us, do visit our website. We would always be delighted to receive comments via our blog or do feel free to call us on 01225 466525.