Guide to Selling

Choosing the right estate agent
Choosing the right estate agent is crucially important in reducing the stress of selling to the absolute minimum, and ensuring that your sale progresses smoothly through to a successful conclusion. Ideally, you need a strong recommendation from someone you trust – a friend or relation, for instance – who has recently had direct personal experience of dealing with an agent. Failing that, you can do your own research, checking out the various agents in your local area and the services they offer.

So, what should you look for? Basically, you need to be confident that an agent will give you the very best advice on pricing and presenting your home for sale; you need to be sure they will market your home effectively to the widest possible group of potential buyers; and you need the peace of mind of knowing that your best interests will be protected.

With all that in mind, we believe your best bet is a well-established local independent agent: one where the owner’s livelihood depends on the quality of service on offer; one with a strong online presence, a prominent High Street location, and a good track record in selling properties similar to your own.

In other words – one exactly like Williams & Donovan!

Online vs Traditional
Of course, with the advent of so-called hybrid and online-only estate agents, some people – not least the national press - seem to think that the days of the traditional high street agent are numbered.

But they couldn’t be more wrong! Here at Williams & Donovan, we’re confident that the future for good traditional High Street estate agents is as rosy as ever – particularly at those times when market conditions are a little more challenging.

The main reason why some people are turning to online agents to try and sell their homes is because their fees are lower. But remember - unlike traditional agents like us, who charge on a no sale, no fee basis, online firms generally charge their fees upfront - irrespective of whether they sell your home or not.

And don’t forget that around a third of all property sales fall through in any case. So, while an upfront fee measured in hundreds of pounds might seem like a bargain, there’s basically a one in three chance that it’ll be hundreds of pounds straight down the drain!

And while traditional agents like Williams & Donovan – who only get paid when a property actually changes hands – will be right back on the case if a sale falls through, the online agent has already had his upfront fee, thank you very much!

The irony of all this is that the internet has revolutionised the entire property market. We are all “online agents” now – except that some of us also have a nice convenient high street office staffed with real people, who you can actually talk to face to face!

And that’s the real key - because there is a whole lot more to successfully selling your home than simply sticking it on the internet and waiting for the offers to roll in. You need someone who is going to:

  • separate the serious prospective buyers from the timewasters;
  • arrange and conduct viewings;
  • negotiate the best possible price;
  • suggest changes to the marketing strategy if the first flurry of interest doesn’t produce a buyer;
  • chase the chains;
  • provide expert advice and support every step of the way, etc etc…

The list of things good traditional agents like Williams & Donovan routinely do for their clients just goes on and on – and all for nothing more than the fee originally agreed!

Granted, some online agents may do more than others, and some high street agents are far from perfect. Still, always remember: like everything else in life, in estate agency you get what you pay for – and at the end of the day, the low fee business model only works if you do the bare minimum. In other words, “Pile them high and sell them cheap...”

Is that really how you want your most prized asset to be sold?

No, we didn’t think so!

Having made a shortlist of, say, three agents, ask them each to do a market appraisal of your home, and ask them to provide evidence to back up their valuations. You can also use their visits to glean more information about their knowledge of the local market, their advertising and marketing strategies, their fee structure and have a look at their client reviews. See our reviews here.

When you make your final choice of agent, don’t automatically go for the one who values your home the highest. He may simply be trying to buy your instruction, with every intention of beating you down to a more realistic level once it’s in the bag. Many agents even run internal training courses on “Getting Price Reductions” – although, interestingly, that’s not one of the things they will boast about while they’re trying to win your instruction!

Likewise, don’t just opt for the one charging the lowest fee. Cut-price agents – even those with a conventional High Street office - generally give a cut-price service. Instead, weigh up the quality of service on offer, and the marketing power at the agent’s disposal. Remember too that estate agency is a people business – trust and confidence are important – so you need to have a good rapport with the agent you choose.

To find out how Williams & Donovan approach valuations, click HERE.