What to expect from your agent

What you should expect:

- Passion: For your property and the development it is in.

- Local knowledge: Unsurprisingly, buyers and tenants prefer to deal with people that know what they are talking about; choose a well-established local agent.

- Experience: Long standing involvement with and in-depth knowledge of your development in order to have the answer to any question or query that a buyer, tenant, surveyor or solicitor may pose. If an occasion arises when the agent is unsure of an answer, as a minimum they should know all the right people to ask such as porters, managing agents, customer service personnel for the development, etc.

- Qualifications: You need to feel confident that your agent is on top of all relevant legislation and best practices relating to the selling / letting of your property.

- Industry respect: Is the agent the prime source of advice for surveyors acting on behalf of mortgage providers in your area? The agent that is so respected is the one you want.

- Viewings accompanied: Aside from the security risks of unaccompanied viewings, more importantly it denies the applicant the opportunity to have all their questions answered and enable them to feel at home in the development and your property in particular. Furthermore, owners conducting viewings simply means the applicant is forced out of courtesy to focus on the owner and not on the property; not what you need when trying to sell/let in a competitive market even if you do know your own property best.

- Marketing: Professional photography and floorplans are a must. Agents are unlikely to be top notch at both negotiation and photography or indeed accurate enough to produce detailed floorplans. These fundamentals displayed well via agent websites and portals are critical.

- Comparables: All valuations should be accompanied by comparable evidence of similar properties recently sold/let or currently on the market that will withstand market scrutiny and that of the valuer from the future buyer’s mortgage provider.

- Communication / feedback: Proactive; whether the news be good or bad. Open and honest advice without fear or favour.

What you should not expect:

- False performance claims: Know who has really performed in the past in your area. Properties available on the portals (e.g. On The Market, Rightmove, etc.) tell you what is available, not what has sold/let.

- Overvaluation: Too often this has been a tactic used in order to win the instruction. This is because owners are tempted to select an agent based upon the price they advise, irrespective of whether or not there is a realistic chance of a sale / let at that price. The impact of getting it wrong when going to market and having to adjust down at a later date is obvious; the wrong buyers will have viewed it, the right buyers won’t as it will have been unattractive to them, and time will have been wasted while the property goes stale.

- Loss-leading fees: Don’t allow those attempting to gain a foothold in your development gain your instruction and use your property as their guinea pig. Price is important but not at the expense of quality of service and the ability to perform. A top performing agent in your area should comfortably be able to make up a commission difference through expertise and applicant competition.

- Lock-in clauses: Beware of agents forcing you to instruct them for extended periods of time. What are they afraid of?