Advice for sellers
We only act on behalf of buyers, let us reiterate that so it is 100% clear. However, we know that sellers often become buyers in their turn, and for this reason have a well-established tradition of offering advice to sellers without charge!
The vast majority of homes are still sold via an estate agent, so your relationship with them will be paramount.
- Always obtain more than one valuation. Preferably three. Ensure that at least one is from a local firm which should have a thorough knowledge of local property values and that one of the other valuations is from a large firm with a broad geographical area.
- Ensure your appointed agent is motivated to sell your home. If you do succeed in knocking them down on fees, at least consider compensating the loss to the firm, by incentivising the negotiators who will be the ones actually showing your home. In other words, consider offering a cash bonus to the negotiator who introduces the successful buyer.
- If you decide to appoint more than one firm they will normally act in competition with each other and charge a slightly higher fee. Most agents will prefer sole selling rights to your home. Some may suggest “joint sole agency” where the fee is split between two appointed firms regardless of which has actually introduced the buyer. You are better off with a “winner takes all” arrangement, otherwise both firms will sit back and wait for the other to find the buyer, where all too often, the drive and eagerness to sell your home is lost.
- Establish early on who will pay for the marketing, and if this is the agent, what coverage they will undertake. Advertising in a glossy brochure is expensive as are appearances in Country Life. The agent may well suggest some initial “off market” attempts to lure buyers, but remember they may be keeping a more careful eye on their own balance sheet rather than your
- Try to avoid being present during a viewing. Avoid showing your home yourself regardless of the lack of faith you might have in someone else doing the job better. Buyers need to be focusing on your home…not you! Better to brief the estate agent properly on the aspects they should be emphasising and give them a set of keys.
- Do try and make sure your home is easy for the agent to show and is presented as well as possible. Homes sell better when furnished.
- Avoid being tied into a lengthy contract. The first six prospective buyers are likely to be the estate agent’s ‘best’ so if no offers result from the initial two/three weeks marketing, you could be in for the long haul and you may wish to rethink the arrangement.
- Keep in close contact with your agent and ask for regular progress reports especially if the property is unoccupied and you are physically unable to monitor the sale. Perhaps even ask the agent to fill in a “visitors book” each time the property is viewed.
- If the only offers you receive are coming from developers, even if your home needs considerable work, alarm bells should be ringing. Some agents might prefer a sale to a developer who will resell the property through them 12 months later, rather than to a Mr and Mrs Smith cash buyers who have no intention of reselling. The prospect of repeat income for the agent may lead to a conflict of interest.
- You should have a solicitor ready with all the paperwork, including the registered title deeds, before any offers are accepted. Delays can stall the process and lead to you losing a buyer unnecessarily.
- Don’t rush into accepting the first offer. If you do then the buyer may walk away pondering whether they could have struck a better deal, and may try to ‘gazunder’ later on. If the initial offer is at the asking price, and is subsequently accepted, then at least attach certain conditions (eg deadlines/what is included/excluded) The estate agent should have a backup buyer ready to proceed if the first sale falters.
- Try to ensure you have alternative accommodation to move to. Your estate agent will not only be rating a buyers’ readiness to buy, but also your own ability to move out of your home. Only once you have exchanged contracts, (as opposed to being under offer), will you be classified as “no longer in a chain” and therefore better able to compete with other buyers, if/when it comes to your turn to buy. Consider exchanging with a delayed completion date to give you a breathing space.
Estate agents sometimes get a bad press but this is often a result of the vendor failing to appreciate what their agent is capable of achieving. A good estate agent will be clear in their own mind that they are acting for the seller, not the buyer, and will work tirelessly to achieve the maximum price for your home.