When a decision to sell is made, the first port of call is usually an estate agent who will come, look the place over and give his professional opinion on what it is worth.
In the past, if you were lucky, he would make one or two suggestions regarding what you might do to make the property more presentable. He would bring a few potential buyers to view and there would be an offer, maybe another offer or two, from other potential buyers. Then a bit of verbal tennis about the price and a bit of macho shape throwing to lend a bit of colour to the proceedings would take place. After a few weeks he would tell you that the offer he had just received was probably as good as you would get and that you would be advised to take it; all very predictable stuff. Especially so, when you realised that the agent always had more buyers than properties to sell.
The estate agent’s aim was to get the properties off his hands as quickly as possible so that he could spend his time actively hunting down further properties to sell. Each sale made him a fee of 1-3 per cent of the selling price. But that was then and this is now. Such a picture of your local auctioneer is to a modern estate agency practice as Rigsby, of Rising Damp fame, is to the modern property owner. Today a professional, well-run agency is very efficient. It has to be. Not only that, but the larger agencies now expend considerable resources, both time and money, on research and consultations on behalf of their clients. While you might consider the fees you pay your agent to be on the high side, the costs associated with even a small agency, are enormous.
The service you receive when selling your particular property is only a small fraction of the time put in by a good agent. There are brochures, or at the very least, leaflets to be designed and printed. There are telephone calls to interested parties and advertising to be organised. Not only that, but there are few jobs where more effort can be wasted. An agent may make many visits to a property before it sells. A month’s work can count for nought when a seller withdraws his property from the market. Even when he thinks his job is done, almost one third of all sales fall through. All of this activity costs, and not only time and money. Is it any wonder that the burnout rate is high among auctioneers and estate agents? Larger agencies also put a great deal of resources into market research, for which there is no immediate return.
Much information on the state of the market, invaluable to government and investors is gathered by agencies that have branches nationwide. They produce highly respected reports on market trends, which, if the government commissioned them, would probably cost the taxpayer millions of euro. A good agent will work hard at selling your property. You will know how good he is from the moment he walks in the door with a viewer. It’s not what he says as much as the way he handles the job. He will have done his homework and will only show the property by appointment with you and to good prospects.
Communication will be a priority and you will be kept informed about developments as they occur. When offers are made your agent will be in a position to evaluate the strength of each one and advise you accordingly. The highest offer isn’t always the one most likely to work out to your best advantage as the financial strength of the purchaser must also be taken into account. The agent can often see things from a broader perspective. Many sellers put pressure on agents to achieve higher prices than their properties warrant. The neighbour down the road gets a very high price for her place, so everybody else expects to match it, regardless of the fact that the neighbour had a garden which is twice as big as the others and a conservatory to the rear.
Correct pricing is crucial to every sale. Accept your agent’s advice here and in relation to offers. Sometimes owners are unaware that waiting an extra month for a relatively small increase in price may, in fact, be counterproductive. The proceeds from the sale, if invested, could yield a much greater return. Trust your agent to know when it’s best to clinch a deal on an existing offer. You don’t need to be quite so trusting of your agent when it comes to presenting your property, however. It’s up to you to make the most of what you have to offer. One way to do this is to try and identify your buyer anticipate what that person’s needs are and satisfy them. Ask your agent what type of person the buyer is likely to be. Will he have a family or to be a single professional? There is no way of knowing for sure who will be interested, but you should present your property with the most likely buyer in mind.
From Making Property Work by Maureen Moran