Estate agents cannot be wished away as they are an important link the property market. However, you will need to ensure that you do your research well so that you do not end up as a victim of some of the traps that some agents employ to win business.
Some of the common estate agent traps that you need to avoid:
- Sole selling rights – Estate agents that insist of sole selling rights essentially mean that should you find a buyer yourself, you still must pay them the agent fee. Therefore, if you want to give away the sole selling rights then ensure that this is only for a limited period.
- Check that the estate agent fees is inclusive of marketing as well as other related costs like preparing the property and the For Sale boards. Otherwise, some agents will double charge you for these as an extra service.
- Refrain from signing a contract that commits you to paying the agent just for finding a purchaser that is ready, willing and able as opposed to selling the property. This is because you would then have to pay the agent fee even where the sale does not fall through because you pulled out even if for a good reason. Instead, work with the agent that only asks for payment following a successful sale through the exchange of contracts.
- Check that the agreement has a time limit. This gives you the privilege of changing the agent in the event that you are unhappy with them. Normally a maximum of a 12-week agreement period is ideal even though it can be as little as 4 weeks.
If you are working with an online estate agent, you need to look out for the following:
- That you are not charged for the For Sale board that you will end up erecting on your own.
- Seek clarification on who will conduct the viewings and how it will be done.
- Be sure that they will advertise your property on the property portals they have pledged to advertise in the agreement.
If you feel aggrieved by your estate agent, you will need to raise a complaint with them. Should they fail to address it, then you can go ahead and seek redress from the ombudsman.