Before you sign with an estate agent to do what many believe to be one of the most important deals in your life – selling your home – you need to prepare with a list of a few clever questions to ask them. Only then will you know whether working with them is actually a good idea and whether they will do the job well.
What if you and the agent don’t agree on some aspect of the home sale?
One of the best ways to get along with the agent is to establish mutual trust and respect. After all, you are the one who pays the fees and the agent is there to ensure you get your money’s worth. Don’t ever feel bullied into accepting an offer from a buyer you are not cool with. If things go sideways with your agent, you should check if they are a member of a grievance body that can address your problem. Estate agents should either be a member of the Property Redress Scheme or the Property Ombudsman.
How much do they charge?
Normally, an agent will charge you a percentage fee. This can vary anywhere between 0.75% and 3.5% of the selling price of your home, as well as the contract type. Ideally, you want a fee that is around 1% + VAT when it comes to a sole agency contract. Haggling is acceptable, bear in mind.
What other costs, if any, are there?
Always make a point about other charges. For example, there may be a ‘For Sale’ board, or fees for taking photos of your property. If these are not included in the fee, you will be unpleasantly surprised to find out you have to pay when the time comes.
What is the type of contract they use?
There are a few different types of contract that agents use, and it is important to know which one will apply to you:
Sole rights – sole selling rights is when you want only this agent to be able to sell your home for the speculated period. If you find a buyer on your own, you still need to pay the agent.
Multi-agency – with this type of contract, you can use a number of estate agents. That means more potential buyers, but also higher fees.
Sole agency – pretty much the same as sole selling rights. The only difference is that if you find your buyer, you don’t owe the estate agent anything.
Is there a tie-in period?
A tie-in period is what many estate agents like to include, even though it is not ideal for you as a seller. It means that you may incur a penalty, or a withdrawal fee, if you don’t get along with the agent and want to terminate the contract. Negotiate the tie-in period, since it can vary wildly between agents.
What happens if you take your home off the market and sell with another agent later on?
If you are not happy with the work of a certain agent, especially if you have signed agency contract, you will want to serve a notice and change agents. If you later sell your home with your new agent, there is a chance your previous agent will ask for a fee, claiming they introduced the buyer. Be very careful when reading the contract, in order to understand if there is any continuing liability after the term.
Asking all these questions will enable you to find an estate agent worthy of your money and time.
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