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choosing an agent

Standard of service

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The personality of the people who deal with you is vitally important. You could spend quite a lot of time in contact with them over a lengthy period of several months, so it is important that you get on. You don't need to be best buddies with them, but a sound working relationship is the minimum requirement.

It is also important to think about how the agent will come across to the buyer. When you meet the agent for the first time, look them in the eye try to gauge how they would make you feel as a prospective buyer. Would you trust them? Do they come across as shifty, or a bit on the wide side of respectable? Ideally, they should seem personable, professional, enthusiastic and well informed. Get these four and it's a winning combination.

Seeing is believing, so they say, so go and check the agents out for yourself. Visit the premises to see what it is like both inside and out, and check out the quality, accuracy and prominence of their window displays and printed material. Tiny window displays with grainy photos of a few unsold properties should make you think twice about using an agent. Then again it is a positive sign if they have a large display of properties, many of which are showing that they have been sold subject to contract. In order to attract a good level of interest in a property, the description and photos need to be of a high quality.

It is also a good idea to go in and get a feel for the kind of reception that a buyer will get when entering the estate agent's office. A busy hub of activity is fine, but if you are made to wait too long, it doesn't exactly create the best impression. Briefly make a mental assessment of the manner of the staff, the efficiency of the service, how long they leave phones ringing and so on.

You can also quiz the agent on such useful facts as the average time taken to sell properties on their books, the total number of properties they sold in the previous month and use this information as a comparison tool for agents.

Do not sign an agreement until you are sure about the agent you are choosing. Estate agency agreements are legally binding, so you will not usually be able to release yourself from the agreement before the sole agency period expires. This can leave you in limbo and we all know that limbo is a horrible place to be, especially when you are in a hurry to sell your house and move on in life…

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