We’ve come up with a step-by-step guide of what your Estate Agent should be doing...
Step 1 – Select an Agent:
You shortlisted two or three agencies based on recommendations and local performance; each agent gave you their valuation, backed with comparable evidence to substantiate that figure, examples of similar successful sales recently, and a marketing strategy specific to your property. You choose an agent based on their knowledge of your property, understanding of the potential buyers, and marketing plan – if you thought all agents were the same and the only difference is the colour of their for sale board, think again.
Step 2 - Preparation:
Your agent should have given you advice on anything at your property that needed addressing prior to sale. Your agent then sends photographers to ensure the pictures are perfect, draws floor plans, films a virtual tour, and prepares particulars for your approval, and then … (drum roll) … you’re ready to go public.
Step 3 - Marketing:
You have one chance to make a good first impression. There’s no need to rush, get the launch right. If your agent is planning to just stick your property online and hope the phone rings, you probably want to review Step 1 again. To achieve maximum price in a minimum timeframe, your agent needs to create urgency within buyers. Your agent should have an active database of potential ‘hot’ buyers, and these should be contacted first giving them a “24hr exclusive” opportunity before going to the open market. Then, go Live. Check your property’s listing on Rightmove, Zoopla and the Agent’s own site. Each site displays data slightly differently so check you’re happy. Walk past your agent’s high street office and make sure your home is displayed prominently.
Step 4 - Viewings:
You are going to have a number of viewings. I can’t speak for other agencies, but Lancasters averages 7 viewings per successful offer. Tidy up and go out, buyers want to imagine their new home, not your old one. Your agent should qualify buyers so you know their ability to buy before agreeing to the viewing, and they should schedule viewings strategically to get the best results, and suit your busy life. You’ve tidied up, gone out and sat in a café round the corner for half an hour, you now need detailed feedback straightaway; if there is a common hurdle stopping buyers offering you need to know so you can do something about it.
Step 5 - Offer:
Exciting times. Your agent should have verified the buyer’s situation, and if the buyer needs to sell your agent should have checked every link in the chain. If your buyer does not need to sell your agent should have gained evidence such as proof of funds and/or mortgage agreement certificate. Don’t get greedy or try and ‘play the game’ - if you are happy with the amount, take it and move your life forward. There are a million old one-liners floating around this industry like “your first buyer is your best buyer” and “every buyer has three offers in them”; take them all with a pinch of salt. The next thing you need from your agent here is a recommendation of a good solicitor who will communicate well with all involved.
Step 6: - Sales Progression
This separates the good agents from the not so good. Your agent now needs to be in constant and regular contact with you, your solicitor, your buyer, your buyer’s solicitor, and everyone else in the chain. There is no point finding you a buyer if the sale doesn’t make it to completion. Nationally, approximately 1 in 3 sales fall through between offer and completion. At Lancasters, we’re a fraction of that, but it can happen to the best of us, usually when we’re involved in chains with less proficient agents. Your agent should keep track of surveys, local authority searches and legal correspondence, and guide you all up to exchange of contracts and ultimately…
Step 7 - Completion:
AKA Moving Day! Legal Completion occurs when the funds are received by the seller’s solicitor, there is no exact time for this. It usually happens sometime between 10am and 4pm - aim for midday and you won’t be far out. Your agent should arrange to collect your old keys, deliver new keys or meet them in their office to do the necessary logistics; if the property is already empty they can handle it all for you. Your solicitor usually pays your estate agent, and themselves out of the sale funds. Well done, if you’ve made it here you’ve achieved your goal of moving or buying your first home.
If you or your agent are struggling with any of the above steps and you would like to speak to an expert then please get in touch with Lancasters for free help and advice.