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Don’t fall victim to dodgy estate agents

A set of house keys

“How do you spot a good estate agent? No, I’m not about to tell a joke. It’s a serious question.”

“I didn’t pay much attention to the estate agent I used when I bought my home. After all, I wasn’t paying them and all that mattered was the house, its price and location. But I know it will be much more important to choose the right one when I come to sell.

It appears all too easy to get stuck with a dud. One seller recently told me of the bad experience she encountered when she tried to sell her flat in Lewisham, south east London. She ended up sacking the first agent she appointed because he insisted on bringing round buyers looking for properties with a garden despite her flat having no outside space.

The HomeOwners Alliance, a paid-for advice and support organisation, also told me of a particularly shocking run-in with an agent experienced by one of its members. A lady from Hampshire wanted to sell her home so she could retire to Italy. Her property had been on the market with a local agent but, in order to generate more awareness, she also advertised it online on Gumtree. Another estate agent spotted her ad and got in touch offering to market the property. His advances were unsolicited and no written agreement or terms of business were entered into. A buyer did find the property through this second agent but followed up and proceeded to completion with the local agent the buyer had actually instructed. The other agent then demanded payment for his services, which the buyer says she never sought or agreed to. But that didn’t stop him from issuing court proceedings prior to completion of the sale.

Another member who sold her home privately in Bracknell experienced an attempted claim for commission owed from an estate agent who had tried and failed to sell the property more than a year before, despite the contract being well past its expiry date.

I’m not trying to bash estate agents as I know there are plenty of good ones around and I have nothing but praise for the individual agent who sold me my house. But other than show us around and take a few phone calls when making an offer, we didn’t really need her to do much. I have no idea how our vendors got on with the agency – whether they were charged a competitive fee or felt like they received a good service.

Property expert Kate Faulkner from propertychecklists.co.uk says if I want to find an estate agent I can trust there are a few golden rules.”

‘First, search properties for sale on the big portals such as Rightmove by entering your postcode, rough asking price and tick the magic box that says “include under offer, sold STC”. This will give you a list of the local agents that have been selling homes like yours recently. And they should be the agents you approach.’

She says you should always speak to three agents to give you a valuation but don’t be tempted to simply plump for the one that gives you the highest amount.

She adds that the real way to gauge whether an agent is trustworthy is to ask them a series of questions and get the answers in writing before signing up to their service.

‘Ask how many borrowers looking for property priced around your asking price they currently have on their books. Then ask how long they think it will take to arrange 10 viewings of your property (how many it takes on average to generate an offer). Ask for examples of similar properties they have recently sold and how long it took to agree a sale and how many viewings they arranged. Then ask for their terms of business. They generally operate on a no-sale, no-fee basis but still find out what the fee will be, including VAT. And check how long you’ll be locked into a contract, and whether they demand exclusivity.’

Quotations from Laura Whitcombe, a knowledge and product editor at ThisisMoney.co.uk talking to The Spectator

So how does Love Your Postcode compare to the agents Laura mentions?

  • Viewers of your house will be property vetted when booked by Love Your Postcode to view your house. Each potential buyer is asked a series of questions, checking that they are not only suitable for property (Not out of their possible price range), but that the property is suitable for them (In the area they are looking for, large enough for their family etc).
  • We also encourage our clients not to jump straight on with the estate agent saying they can get the most for their property. It is not uncommon for agents to quote higher than is realistic to lure sellers into advertising their brand through the online advert and a board outside your house. 6 months later it may dawn on you that the agent has got you zero viewings, and they’ve wasted time that you could have spent getting sold with an agent who is motivated to sell your home.
  • With Love Your Postcode’s most popular traditional package, your fee will only be payable if we sell your home. If you’re on a dual agency contract with another agent, our fee will only be payable if we’re the one who finds the buyer for your property.
  • Worried about getting locked in? Try our 21 day offer promise!

Interested in getting a property on the market? Get yourself booked in for an appointment today.

Don’t fall victim to dodgy estate agents
Last Updated: 2016-07-04T13:44:11+00:00
By David Price
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