Should I believe an estate agent?

You’ve done your online research, you’ve chatted with friends and, hopefully, you’ve done a bit of field research yourself and now you’ve chosen your estate agent.

You made an appointment to see them and now you’re in their office or they’ve come round to your home and, at last, you’re chatting about getting your property on the market. This might be the first time you’ve met face-to-face and the agent seems, charming, urbane, keen to help – or at least they should.

But what should YOU be looking for? The agent’s patter may have been great on the phone but, even at this late stage, you don’t want to end up with a firm which promises the earth and then delivers very little – so what are the signs along the way to help you sort the wheat from the chaff?

It’s by no means a definitive list but, below are five things your estate agent should probably never say:

1/ What do you want your property to fetch?

Er… that’s why you decided to employ an expert rather than just do the whole thing yourself. You might have a rough idea if you looked on the online portals for similar property which has sold recently in the area but that doesn’t mean you’re suddenly on top of the current market. Of course, you may have a figure in mind but it’s probably best to keep that to yourself and see if the agent comes up with something similar. Remember, if your home is pitched too high, you may struggle to find a buyer; too low, and you could be thousands of pounds out of pocket. Do some homework first by all means but let the agent set a price first and then have your say if you feel the need.

2/ Accept the first decent offer you get. It’s a tough market out there.

If you’re in a hurry to sell, it might be sound advice but, like anything else, it doesn’t do to appear to be too keen to sell. Come across as desperate and you may find the buyer will have you over a barrel later on in the process. Play it cool. Take your time. Never rush. A quick sale might look great on the estate agent’s website but this is probably one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make so don’t be browbeaten or harassed into a decision which doesn’t feel right.

3/ Make sure you get the coffee pot on just before that viewing.

There won’t be many of us who haven’t heard that the smell of fresh coffee or baking bread can help sell a house. But there’s the rub. If we all know it, it’s not going to be all that effective any more. Indeed, a buyer could just wonder why you’re trying to bamboozle them with a sensory assault as soon as they walk through the door. It’s better to let the property do the talking.

4/ Don’t bother about the DIY jobs. Buyers will probably rip everything out anyway.

Actually not bad advice as spending thousands on new kitchen units, a better bathroom suite or some decking in the garden can be a waste of time and money if you’re going to be selling anyway. However, it’s definitely worth spending some time sorting out the minor fixes and getting the garden tidy. A good tactic is to ask a friend to do a dry run as a buyer and see what they recommend. Also, if you have a viewing coming up, declutter and hide the framed pictures of the kids. In fact, send the kids and the dog to grandma and granddad if you can. An innocent remark from a five-year-old about how daddy was mending the roof at the weekend or a viewing disrupted by a dog which won’t stop barking at “strangers” can be a little awkward.

5/ Don’t put it on the market just yet. Wait until …

Why wait? You have no idea who is out there looking for a new house and your property might just be their dream home. If you don’t go for it, you might just miss them. There are certainly times when property sells faster as there are more buyers looking – spring for example. But, in a world where stock is so low and demand is so high, there will ALWAYS be people on the lookout for the right house. Our advice is always: “Do it today” as the best time to sell your house is when someone wants to buy it – and that someone may be out there right now.

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