New Year / Old Tricks

So, the start of a fresh new year and an eagerly awaited first newspaper property supplement provokes groans of despair as several agents wheel out “new” variations on tired old fee deals to tempt 2011 clients. The real corker is a 50/50 offering where the agent says they’ll only charge 50% of their “standard fee” if the property doesn’t sell in 50 days (the more cynical or experienced among you might be wondering what prices they’ll be suggesting on valuations and how much higher their “standard fee” will be than normal) but there’s also the usual raft of special offer/limited time/had such a good 2010 obfuscation. Coupled with this, we’ve already encountered vendors this year who have inadvertently signed up to 21 week sole agency agreements or paid horrific markups on EPC fees.

Estate agency isn’t rocket science – we all know clients want value for money and there’s a huge amount of competition in the market place for each new instruction. However, there will always be several cardinal rules to follow with your agent;

1) Leave yourself flexibility – don’t get bound in to a long contract. Agents should be judged on results.

2) Hopefully, the agent’s contract doesn’t have too much small print. If there is, READ IT before you sign and understand all the costs/implications. 

3) Nail down the service package before you sign. Where will your home get marketed/how regularly, who does viewings, what would the details include? What are you going to get for your money? How much communication are you going to get? Get this confirmed in writing by the agent.

4) Work out fees in real money to accurately compare. Total up commission, VAT, EPC costs etc in pounds and pence for each agent.


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