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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. For example, search online for disqualified company directors. Also, check online for any involvement in tribunals or disciplinaries with membership or regulatory bodies.

2. The role of membership and regulatory bodies

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

An agent who is a member of a membership body is committing to regulation and adhering to strict guidelines of that organisation. This means that they can be fined, cautioned, and dismissed from membership for any bad practice. However, the current laws, do not stop them from trading. 

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. 

Find Your Agent

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 agent’s 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. 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 upon, agents then liaise with everyone in the chain. This includes other agents, solicitors, the buyer and the sellers. They chase, progress, solve issues and keep communication open and transparent.

Moving home is stressful and a large part of an agent’s job is to keep everyone involved updated and informed. The longer things take the greater the risk of things falling through.

A good agent is on the ball, proactive and responsive.

An average of 30% of sales fall through, ask the agent what their fall-through rate is? If it’s higher than 30% 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: November 22nd, 2023

Phil Spencer

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