How estate agents work?

Estate agents don’t have a particularly good reputation. I’m well aware of that and that is one of the reasons I gave up my legal practice in 2000 to become one, although we have always considered ourselves a property marketing company we are always lumped together.

As a result of my legal background I am not a typical estate agent so can’t tell you about some ‘tricks’ of the trade other, more scrupulous agents use, but I hope this guide gives you a small insight into our job and why it’s important to use an estate agent to sell your house.

Any product doesn’t just sell itself! If it did then Topshop would have exactly the same performance figures as every other high street clothing chain. So here is a brief list of some of the most important jobs estate agents do when selling a property:

Preparing to go to market - Our staff will advise you what you can do to help prepare your house to go onto the market for sale. My personal favourite is to de-personalise the house: remove personal photos if there is a lot of them, pack away beauty products in the bathroom so they are out of site and remove ‘clutter’ that won’t be used until after the move. This can be the start of the packing process, but ensure any boxes go away in the loft before the estate agent takes the photos.

Comply with money laundering requirements - This is a little bit boring, but as agents now we have to ensure identification is provided for both buyers and sellers. We take the legislation side of the job very seriously and hold National Association of Estate Agent propertymark accreditation and we do so to protect the people who we buy and sell houses for. If you deal with an agent that doesn’t do this they are cutting corners.

Negotiate - The single most important part of the job you might argue, getting you the most money for your home. We love negotiating, it’s very enjoyable agreeing a sale and making sure both buyer and seller are happy. And it’s not always that the most money is the best offer, it’s about knowing your clients, finding out what motivates both buyer and seller and picking the right match. I am a great believer that if we push a buyer too hard and force them to increase above a level they are comfortable with the property sale is more likely to fall through before completion. Estate agents negotiate offers on houses every day and are used to dealing with the emotions people experience during this time, even if you negotiate for a living yourself I would recommend using a professional as buying and selling houses is completely different to buying and selling any other product.

Sales Progression - This is the reason I earlier wrote that negotiation is arguably the most important part of the job. And that’s because I would argue sales progression is more important because it is where the process starts to cost you serious cash. It’s no good accepting an offer and taking the house off the market if the purchaser then doesn’t take any action for 6 weeks, ‘one in the hand is worth two in the bush’ and that’s why progressing a sale to completion as quickly as possible can not be underestimated. A good estate agent will have contacts with reliable solicitors and be able to recommend one suitable for you depending on your circumstances. The agent will then keep all four parties updated: the seller, their solicitor, the buyer and their solicitor. Often solicitors need a little nudge to move things forward or it might be the seller that needs a reminder to return the paperwork he has had on his table for a fortnight. Remember a house sale is not legally binding until exchange of contracts so a good estate agent will work with all four parties to get you to that point as quickly as possible.

Why are Topshop more successful than most? It’s not just one thing, but a lot of little things and that’s what makes a good estate agent in my opinion and something as a seller it is very difficult to judge on just one meeting.

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Georgina Cox

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