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What to Look for to Avoid Getting a Bad Estate Agent

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This article was written by Propertymark, the leading membership body for property agents.

In all industries there are people who are great at what they do and there are people that cut corners. When moving home, your finances are at risk and your happiness is too, so it’s really important that you avoid running into the latter. Here’s some little-known information that will help you make the right decisions on who you invite into your home. Remember, it’s not all about fees! 

1.Do your research 

When you decide you want to move, you’ll spend plenty of time online, window shopping for your new home. You might research schools, amenities and even do some drive-bys. 

But, while you’re exploring, remember to research your choice of agent too. 

Reputation is everything so a good place to start is with your local community; word of mouth, online forums and reviews are a great way to find out what experiences other people have had. 

You can also find out a lot using online sources. If an agent has been associated with other, questionable businesses you’ll be able to see on Companies House. If they’ve been through tribunals or disciplinaries with membership or regulatory bodies, the results and reasons will also be published online.

2.The role of membership and regulatory bodies

Firstly, let’s clear something up – estate and lettings agents are not regulated.

This makes finding an agent who is a member of a body really important. If they’re a member of a body, the body will regulate them and make sure they abide by certain rules. Members of that body can be fined, cautioned, and dismissed from membership, however, under current laws they cannot be forced to cease trading. 

All agents must be part of a redress scheme, but they don’t have to be a member of a professional body, that part is voluntary. So, when you look for an agent, look for someone who is a member of a body like Propertymark

Being part of a body shows your agent has a desire and willingness to operate at a professional level, by voluntarily signing up to conduct rules. Exactly the type of property expert I’d want looking after my home. 

Choosing an agent that is a member of a body also gives reassurance, it gives you someone to talk to if something goes wrong. 

All members are required to display their membership logo in their windows so it should be easy to spot, but if not, make sure you ask them. 

3.Fee isn’t everything – What else should you look for?

Most people will forget to ask about credentials and get straight to the all-important question – how much?  But an agents’ fee really doesn’t tell you anything about value for money, and the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ can ring true. 

Have you ever thought to ask an agent if they are qualified? Mortgage brokers, solicitors, surveyors and even the energy assessor that does your EPC are trained, qualified, and regulated, so check if your agent is too. 

Agents don’t have to have any experience or qualifications to join the industry and choosing one that has made a conscious decision to learn and stay above a basic standard will get you someone who is committed to doing their best. 

Most people think the agent’s fee is for marketing, but in today’s market that’s the easy bit. An agent will truly earn their cash in the stages after. In today’s market most properties are receiving multiple offers and choosing the best buyer is the first step to making sure your move goes smoothly. A good agent can advise you on choosing the best buyer and will then negotiate with your buyer to get you the best sale price. 

Once a sale is agreed, agents then liaise between everyone in the chain; other agents, solicitors, the buyer and the sellers. They chase, progress, and solve issues as well as providing timely and transparent updates. Moving home is inevitably hugely stressful and a giant part of an agent’s job is keeping everyone involved happy and informed, so no one feels the need to pull out. 

A good agent will be on the ball, proactive and responsive. They can make the difference between sales falling through or getting to the finish line – because remember a home is never sold until it’s signed for, in fact, on average 30% of sales fall through – if your agent has a higher rate than that, you may want to keep looking. 

Want more advice?

Tune in to season 6 of the Move iQ podcast, sponsored by Propertymark, for more helpful advice and guidance. Episode 1 is all about how to find a good estate agent, and what to look for. It has everything you need to know! Tune in below, or on your favourite podcast app. 

Tune In

Last Updated: January 4th, 2022

Phil Spencer

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