Let the right estate agent put a spring in your step

After last week's visitation from the 'Beast from the East', it is maybe hard to visualise the sunshine hues of spring bulbs or accept that daylight hours are growing longer.

Willie Hunter is Head of Residential, Gillespie Macandrew

But those aren’t the only sign that Spring has sprung.

Property “For Sale” signs pop up in abundance, too, as March also marks one of the busiest times in estate agent’s calendars, with sellers looking to make the move to their new home.

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Whether it’s to move up the ladder into a bigger home, or come down a rung into a smaller home for retirement living, how you market your property can make or break your dreams.

With people being more tech-savvy and more proactive online, it may seem tempting to do it yourself. Opting for an online portal may seem like a good idea and you may think you can save yourself money, but remember, you’ve never worked as an estate agent before so how do you know what you’re doing is correct and likely to achieve the best result?

Your home is probably your biggest investment and an established estate agent’s experience and expertise is definitely worth paying for. The agent you choose should know the area inside out, they should know how much similar properties have sold for, they certainly should alleviate any stress and be instrumental in helping you get that all-important sale and the best selling price. Having that in-depth knowledge of the market is invaluable and indispensable.

By all means shop around because different agents do offer differing services and it is vital that you have absolute confidence in that service from the outset. Understandably, everyone is keen to know how much their agent is going to charge and there can be a significant variation in the final cost, depending on the agent you choose. Normally agents charge commission on sale as a straight percentage of the sale price and that is more often than not offered on a simple “take it or leave it” basis.

However, some agents will offer flexibility and choice in respect of their fee structure and by doing so, they give you an element of control over the final cost. Ask each agent you speak to if they have an alternative fee structure that you can look at and whether they will be prepared to provide a service level guarantee. Every agent will tell you they are “the best” but will they be prepared to put their money where their mouth is?

It’s also worth bearing in mind that estate agents do not determine the value of the property – this is done by the surveyor who prepares your Home Report.

Although it is tempting to simply give your business to the estate agent who provides the highest valuation figure, if they are being over-optimistic you might be left feeling deflated when the surveyor comes back with a much lower valuation in the Home Report. Good estate agents manage their client’s expectations sensibly. Quite frankly, the only mistake you can make in the buoyant market we are currently experiencing is to over-price your property.

With some properties achieving up to 20 per cent over the asking price, or being snapped up within a couple of days of going on the market, there are real benefits to be had by setting a competitive asking price designed to generate competition and a quick closing date.

If you listen to the advice your estate agent gives you, you’ll be well on your way to pastures new with a spring in your step.

Willie Hunter is Head of Residential, Gillespie Macandrew