Which agents to short list and which agents to avoid

How to choose an estate agent to sell your property. Well here is our take on this and hopefully you can take some value from our extensive experience.

In the last twenty-three years, my, things have changed so much. They really have. 

When Green Grey was first founded in Meriden, believe it or not, what we now call things like ‘property portals’ were only just being thought of. 

Rightmove was launched the year our business group was launched and to begin with we were unable to even set up an account without an area manager coming to our offices to check that we had what was called ‘visitable premises’.

It’s strange that Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket now take money from literally any ‘agent’ whether trading from an office or their girlfriend’s spare bedroom as is the case as one ‘agent’ in Meriden.

In Coleshill, there’s one woman who bounces around from town to town flaunting Google guidelines by setting up an address in a building that she doesn’t even own!  Google seems to have some standards though by not allowing a man in his girlfriend’s bedroom from being listed according to their advertising Guidelines or like the lady in Coleshill, just renting an address and hoping no one ever visits. Google does seem less inclined to police this now, what with making so many people redundant globally. So it’s a bit of a free for all when it comes to estate agents and their offices. Whether this is an important consideration is for you to decide, of course.

It’s odd, that the only people Rightmove won’t take money from for listing their properties is actually the seller! 

Notwithstanding, the world is a different place and what with Facebook and Instagram you can be anyone you like. No one will know or care. 

Taking things further, with the development of apps like tinder and grinder, who cares? You can be whatever you like or who you like, and no one will ever know. 

Well, unfortunately, it is really like that in property, too.

You search ‘estate agents Meriden’ and get an 0333 number. A human answers and arranges to come and see you after a bit of flannel.

They turn up in a suit and branded vehicle, bragging about how many google five star reviews they may or may not have bought off a Dutch firm, ironically also advertising on Google, and proceed to give you a print out of a free valuation sheet that they only ten minutes ago downloaded off a website. The same website that you have access to if you look hard enough!

So they proceed to tell you their costs, use the annoying phrase ‘In my experience’ of which they have none, and then proceed to direct you to For Sale boards that are in local roads that you know and have seen, but fail to tell you that they paid their mate to put it there.

Cynical. Too right.

Anyone can set up as an estate agent without any qualifications except for the prison sentence that they fail to tell you about. Even with that, National Trading Standards can know about it but can’t do anything about it unless it involved violence. 

But this person is already sitting in your lounge, drinking your tea and blagging narcissistically about them.

So what to do?

So how to choose an estate agent to sell your property? Here’s how. Be very probing. That’s the answer. Ask for evidence. Question everything and be as cynical as you can be. That’s the trick. Otherwise, it’s you that will be tricked!

Firstly ask to speak to some of the people who have allegedly written reviews. Do they name specific people or are they written at the request of the agent by a man in Holland pretending to be a happy seller or buyer?

Investigate the company on Companies House. 

Who actually owns the business and what are their names?  Where do they live?  Is the company trading from genuine business premises or their home address or even someone else’s?  You never know, it may even be a ‘pop up’ scenario having already moved premises a number of times. Companies House will show this data. You can also do a search on land registry to really see what’s going on and who is who. Or not as the case may be.

If the Google business listing has lots and lots of photos of young people in business suits, are they all being paid or are they just friends of the agent, put on there ‘for show’? Check the salary costs in the accounts for last year and the year before to really see how many employees they have.

Ask for copies of their qualifications. Propertymark will allow individuals to have specific property related qualifications after their name and in order for the Director to trade, the Company must go through strict vetting as well. 

Check their experience, not only in the market but personally. You might even ask for a copy of their Curriculum Vitae!   

You could ask questions just like in an interview situation. ‘What would you do if this happens….. How would you deal with the property deal falling through …. What is AML KYC and how you do deal with it’

There are lots of questions that you need to ask, and not just ‘How much is my house worth’ and ‘How soon can you sell it’ which seem to be the only questions people want to know, only to regret things later! 

The answer is in the number of things that point to an estate agent in the first place. Not just board presence, not just Facebook, not just Google reviews, not just the branded car or the suit. Ask people’s opinions and then do your own research. Be thorough! 

It’s asking around, knocking on doors and, most importantly, arranging an appointment to go and see them in their offices and have a cup of tea and some biscuits with them and see if they’re really there. Get them to show you around and talk. Ask about their business and get to know the set up.

And finally...

Finding out how to choose an estate agent to sell your property shouldn’t be a difficult thing. We hope we have helped.

Don’t do it with just one company, do it with a minimum of three, or five, or six. Then shortlist. 

Your home is the most important asset. Don’t get selling it wrong!

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Green Grey – Selling property is the trading style of Green Grey Limited with offices in Meriden and Coleshill, working 8am to 10pm, seven days a week*. Part of Xactia Group, established in July 2000. Other residential property brands in the Group include H2L. Expert Letting, Home 2 Let Limited and Three Sixty Virtual Limited.