Property Blog and News / Nine top tips for working with your estate agent

Nine top tips for working with your estate agent

24 December 2020


Property Expert

Your property is going on the market and, having chosen and instructed your estate agent, it is time to start working with them to find the right buyer.

This top tip guide from OnTheMarket is designed to help you work effectively with your estate agent to achieve this goal as smoothly as possible.

Work as a team and you’ll be well on the way to achieving a sale at the best possible price in a timescale that suits your needs.

1. Tidy up – the outside

Look at your property through the eyes of a potential buyer. First impressions are immensely influential and “kerb appeal” is the first thing to consider. Is the entrance to the property in good order with the paths swept, lawn mown and the garden’s flower beds tidy? If the paintwork on the windows and front door is peeling, get it re-decorated. Polish the door furniture and make sure the bell is working. All these little things on the outside are likely to be noticed and if the place looks cared for, it makes a buyer all the more interested about what lies inside. Don’t forget the garage – garage storage is often used for bric-a-brac rather than for a vehicle and can be difficult to get into. Tidy it. And also pay particular attention to your garden.  Ask your estate agent if they have noticed things that could negatively influence a buyer’s first impressions of your property and take their advice about what you can do to change it.

2. Tidy up – the inside

In deciding to sell, you are effectively putting your property on parade and it has to look its best at all times. There will be a succession of buyers coming through the door and you need to make it as easy as possible for them to imagine their own belongings and their own lives in the place. So do keep everything neat, tidy and uncluttered. Put toys away in the children’s rooms and don’t leave laundry lying around. Keep kitchen work surfaces clear and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Put away piles of papers and magazines and make sure you clean the bathroom and loo. If you know a viewing is coming, avoid smoking in the house and it’s probably best not to have fish and chips on the menu that day. Make sure that all rooms are well aired. You probably won’t want to undertake major decorating work but do listen if your estate agent advises that a room could do with a lick of paint. People not only buy property, they buy into lifestyle and if yours looks attractive it can only help to encourage buyer interest.

3. Pets – best if not around

We all love our pets but others may not be so keen. As a general rule, if you have cats or dogs, it is best that they are not around when buyers come to view. A lot of people are allergic to cat hair and many are nervous of dogs. Fish are generally fine but a collection of snakes, spiders or lizards might be better appreciated if the tank is covered. A potential buyer may be unable to concentrate on the viewing if they are distracted by the unwelcome attentions of your pet. With dogs of any size or temperament, it’s a good idea if a helpful neighbour can look after them whilst the viewing takes place. And please don’t leave the dog basket in the house. The smell of coffee or baking bread is attractive. Stale dog really isn’t.

4. Always say yes to property viewings

A property viewing can come at short notice so don’t be surprised if the agent is not able to give you a lot of warning. You need to keep the house ready for a visit at all reasonable hours and, unless there is a really good reason to the contrary, you should always agree to a viewing request. There are lots of properties for sale and you are in competition with them to attract a buyer, so make access straightforward and simple. If your estate agent accompanies viewings as part of their service, it is sensible to allow them to hold a key to the property.

5. Owners – best if not around?

It is sometimes said that the owner of a property is the best person to show a buyer round but that’s not always productive. A potential buyer on a first viewing may feel a lot more relaxed if they are able to walk round just with the estate agent rather than with the seller. They will freely comment about the things they see and this may give the agent the opportunity to address issues and to suggest solutions. Discuss with your agent whether they would prefer to show the buyer round while you go out for a while. It’s usually on the second viewing that an agent will suggest the seller meets the potential buyer because at that stage the buyer is showing some interest and there may well be questions for the seller to answer.

6. Don’t disappear without telling your agent!

If you are going out for a day or are off on holiday then do let your estate agent know. If they are not holding a key you should make suitable arrangements for viewings to be able to take place while you are away. Don’t risk missing that elusive buyer and make yourself as available as possible to your agent.

7. Get the documents together

At some point you will be accepting an offer for the property and the legal process will begin. It is really important that there is no delay in getting all the paperwork ready to send to a buyer, so start collecting relevant documents now. Have you had building work done on the property in the past? Where are the planning and building regulation papers? Make sure you get together any warranties for works and guarantees for the boiler and other appliances, FENSA certificates for the glazing and gas and electrical installation certificates. Make a list of the things that you know you will be taking with you and of what will be staying with the property, such as carpets, curtains, fitted furniture or white goods. Keep a file of all these items ready to hand to your solicitor/conveyancer.

8. The legals – conveyancing fees and choosing a firm

The vast majority of sellers choose to appoint a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal process of the sale and most probably your onward purchase. Now is the time to look around for a suitable firm and to obtain quotes for conveyancing fees. Ask your estate agent or your friends and family for their recommendations. Few people appreciate that a good estate agent plays an absolutely essential role in ensuring that once a sale is agreed, it holds together all the way to a successful completion. That role is made more effective if they have a good working relationship with the legal firms acting in the transaction so do consider their recommendations. To find an agent in your local area click here. All of the properties listed at OnTheMarket are handled by locally visible, office-based estate and letting agents with expertise on the ground. And to research sold prices, click here.

9. Get out and find a property

If you are buying another property with the money that you receive from the sale of your existing home, it is wise to start looking right away. If you delay, then you might find that a buyer for your home won’t wait while you go house hunting. Don’t put yourself under that pressure as it could compromise the success of your sale. Discuss your moving plans with your agent as they may have other branches or associated firms in the area you want to go to and they will help you find something suitable. Take time now to go and find your new home and, with hard work and a bit of good luck, your estate agent will be able to dovetail the sale and purchase together.