When you’re moving house, whether you’re buying a home, selling the home you have, or buying and selling simultaneously, the right estate agent can make the difference between a smooth transition and a bumpy ride. Finding the right agent requires you to do our homework and to be willing to ask tough questions. However, the effort you make will more than repay itself when you settle into your perfect new home.
Check Out Your Agent
The work of choosing an estate agent begins with a session surfing the Internet. If your prospective agent works for an estate company, check out the company website. If your agent works independently, he or she should still have a professional website. If there is no website, and you also cannot find a street address and phone number for an agent or a company, run – don’t walk – in the opposite direction.
It goes without saying that any agent that you are considering should possess the proper credentials. In the United Kingdom, look for an agent who is registered with an organization like The National Association of Estate Agents. In the United States, be sure to clarify whether your prospective agent is a licensed real estate agent, a Realtor who is certified by the National Association of Realtors, or a real estate broker who is authorized to practice as an independent agent or supervise other licensed real estate agents.
Once you’ve verified that an agent is legitimate, dig deeper to determine whether he or she has experience handling the type of home you have or are considering for purchase. Agents who specialize in luxury estates may not understand how to deal with starter homes that may need repairs or renovations. Likewise, if you’re well established financially, you will likely want an agent who is familiar with homes that offer all the bells and whistles. Check out whether problems are associated with a particular agent or company, ranging from customer complaints to more serious charges such as fraud.
If possible, interview a prospective agent face to face, or at the very least, by telephone. Make inquiries about the approach he or she plans to take to market your home if you are selling. If you’re purchasing a home, ensure that you and your prospective agent are on the same page about the features and amenities you are seeking in a new home.
Location, Location, Location
Your agent should be familiar with the area where you are listing or seeking a home. Ask friends or acquaintances in a particular neighborhood that have used an agent’s services about their experiences. Inquire directly with your agent about other properties for sale in the area and their selling prices, as well as his or her general impression about a particular neighborhood. Your agent should be able to ask the right questions and gather the information you need to make an informed decision.
Once you’ve found an agent that you are seriously considering, it’s time to talk money. Be very clear about the commission or fee your agent customarily collects. If the amount seems out of line compared with the services your agent intends to provide, don’t be afraid to negotiate. For instance, you may be able to gain concessions if you list your home for sale with the same agent to purchase a new home. If you can’t settle on a mutually acceptable amount, you must be prepared to walk away from the table.
Darren Wess is a keen property investor with a penchant for London. He enjoys sharing his tips and insights on various investment blogs. Finding an appropriate property can be an arduous process, choosing the right estate agents in London is a good start.