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choosing an agent

Market reach

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The market reach of an estate agent is the same sort of thing as the potential customer base that their business has. This is larger the more actively the agent's business promotes itself. Not every agent will be strong in all of the areas under consideration. You need to compare the various marketing and promotional activities that the agent will employ and assess which one is likely to be doing the right combination of activities to find a buyer for your home.

Most estate agents advertise in local or even national press or industry magazines. Check your local press to see which companies are advertising the most. Pay attention to the type of properties that regularly appear in their adverts. If they are similar to the one you are about to sell, so much the better. Also make note of how good the adverts look, whether they are in colour or black and white, their aesthetic style, layout and design. If you were buying, would the adverts attract your attention? How prominent and eye catching are the adverts?

Do your own detective work and check out the yellow pages to see which estate agents take out the biggest ads and will generate the most leads from that source.

Find out whether the agent (or the chain to which it belongs) has a contract with a major newspaper to purchase advertising space. Not only does this give them cheaper long term advertising rates, it also gives you a good idea of the scale of their operations.

Check out their website. Most agents are now online, and one that has designed an effective website is likely to do well. Think about how well the property details are presented and how easy the site is to use. Also, find out if their property database is accessed by any of the large national property search engines that can be found in SiteFinder. Asking about the major ones by name will make you look like you are in the know.

Mailing list / company brochure
Many agents add their properties to mailing lists which are sent out to all prospective buyers that have registered an interest, as well as some home search agencies. Find out exactly how many people are on the mailing list.

Some large estate agency chains will even have their own magazine, so ask whether there is one, find out the circulation and establish whether your property will be included.

A grand office on the high street is likely to attract a lot more passing trade than one man doing all his business in his convertible BMW by mobile phone. You should also see how much prominence and attention is given to the properties in their window display.

Prominence of signage
Check out the area around the premises of the estate agent and see how well they are represented by For Sale and Sold signs on properties. Have a good look round and make a note of how many boards you can find representing each of the major agencies. This is particularly important in built up areas, where the number of buyers that a company is able to attract depends directly on how visible their marketing activities are.

Pay particular attention to the number of 'Sold' boards, as this can be an indication of how successful a company is at shifting the property they have on their books. Bear in mind though, that different companies may leave the boards up post-sale for differing lengths of time, so this can distort the view that you get. Also remember that despite it being illegal, some companies have been known to put 'Sold' boards up on empty properties and even when a property has not been sold through them.

Local or national focus
Is the estate agent part of a chain? If so, then this means that they will be able to draw on a wider customer base, as your property details will be made available to other branches in the chain throughout the country or region.

Some properties are best suited to being sold through a local agent. If you live in a town or city, for instance, your property is likely to be reasonably similar in price and style to a variety of other homes that an agent has on their books in the area. Although this may prevent your home from standing out from the crowd, it does mean that there will be a good fit with the property portfolio and the sort of buyer they are likely to be targeting their advertising at.

If however, your property is either unique or particularly exclusive, it may be worth looking further afield for some additional expertise in selling a home such as your own. It is also more likely that the buyer could come from outside the locality. As a rule of thumb, the higher the value of property a buyer is looking to purchase, the greater the distance they are willing to cover to find what they are looking for.

It is now possible to find numerous national organisations that specialise in selling exclusive homes, country property, or houses of a certain style or pedigree. Once again, it comes down to the fact that these businesses will have a better knowledge of the likely buyer and greater expertise in reaching them. You can find many of these companies in SiteFinder.

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