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What to ask your agent

Whether you are someone selling your home for the first time or you have sold many times before, the property market may feel like a daunting environment to enter now that it is starting up again post-coronavirus lockdown. Many of the old methods and rules will have changed forever and the picture is no longer the same as it was three months ago.

Fortunately, the expert team at Wilkinson Grant is here to help as we have painstak-ingly compiled the answers to these vital 10 questions you should be asking any estate agent before your property goes on the market:

1.WHAT STEPS HAVE YOU TAKEN TO PROTECT YOUR CLIENTS FROM COVID-19?

There have never been times like these for moving home – for the buyer, the vendor and the estate agent. Wilkinson Grant are members of The Guild of Property Professionals (https://www.guildproperty.co.uk) and we follow strict government Covid-19 health and safety guidelines to keep our clients, customers and staff safe.

We have put together clear guidelines to be followed by clients looking to sell, let, buy or rent through us and will ensure it is “safety first” at all times. You can find a link to our helpful guides – plus our Coronavirus Health Assessment form - right here.

Anyone wishing to enter a property on our portfolio - or wanting us to visit their property -will be asked to complete this form so we can be sure to minimise the risk of coming into contact with people displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

Be sure that any agent you chose to work with is also following the ‘Safety First’ approach when it comes to property viewings.

2.WHAT SHOULD MY ASKING PRICE BE?

An attractive guide price is, in our long experience, almost always the best way of achieving the best sale price. The guide price should be set to attract the most interest from the widest pool of potential buyers, enabling your agent to negotiate the best sale price for you.

An important factor when choosing an agent is their knowledge of the area and success in selling properties like yours. Comparing the guide price for your home with the prices of unsold properties currently marketed is not always the best way to set an asking price. Frankly, this may be the reason those properties are not yet sold.

Setting the right asking price can enable you to move more quickly. Consider this compelling statistic which backs up our experience on pricing - properties marketed at the correct price attract 40% more interest on Rightmove when launched. This can help achieve a stronger sale price, whereas less interest at launch can cause adverse effects in the long term.

Being the leading agent for sales in this area allows us full access to the largest number of recently achieved sales prices for the city and means we can correctly set a price to achieve a good level of interest. By using this market insight, matched with our unrivalled experience, our customers are ideally placed to achieve the best price for their property.

3.WHAT SELLING STRATEGY DO YOU HAVE?

There are different levels of service in Estate Agency. On the one hand, you have the “hit and hope” or “spray and pray” agents that will simply add your property to portals and hope and pray for interest. That doesn’t seem much of a strategy to us.

On the other hand, you also have strategic agents with a plan. This plan combines extensive marketing, pro-active staff who stimulate active registered buyers and enhanced internet advertising to ensure your property appears at the top of searches and is seen more by potential buyers. Here at Wilkinson Grant we place ourselves in this category of Estate Agent and we are proud of the successful track record such a professional approach brings.

When you market your home with us, we have a ‘30 Day Selling Strategy’ and regular reviews planned with you to ensure you know how the marketing is progressing. We also have a fully manned Mayfair office in London and a network of over 800 independent Estate Agent offices across the UK.

Since the onset of Covid-19 more people are looking to relocate from the city to the South West, so there is, right now, more incentive than ever to put your property in front of those eager buyers looking to relocate.

When a buyer is found it is more important than ever to have everything in place to help ensure a smooth, speedy, trouble free sale. Working with over 20 trusted law firms, Wilkinson Grant can help set you up as ‘ready to sell,’ so your sale can hit the ground running. That way you can avoid any unnecessary delays or upset later in the process and reduce the chances of fall-through or disappointment before an exchange of contracts.

4.WHERE WILL YOU MARKET MY PROPERTY?

With Covid-19 fewer people will be visiting agents’ offices. With the new government guidelines many will prefer to deal with fewer but more professional agents and definitely with the agents that have the most properties for sale.

In our experience, you have two main types of buyers in the market - active buyers who are engaging with us and registered on our database and those buyers regularly visiting the UK’s top property portal – Rightmove. So, it is more important than ever to stand out from the crowd and not be “just another listing”.

There are also passive buyers who are just beginning to consider a move and seeing their dream house become available can get them to be more proactive.

To target all those potential buyers for your home you will need your agent to use a combination of marketing tools

You want to be sure your agent is advertising properties where the audience is, online. Our own Wilkinson Grant website attracts an average of 10,000 users a month. We also have a large social media following and greatly enhanced packages on Rightmove. All of our properties are also listed on numerous other property websites including OnTheMarket, Nethouseprices and Propertyplatform

5.WHAT PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE TO FIND BUYERS?

We are firm believers that it takes a lot of skill to match the right person to your property and to achieve the best price and to not rely on technology alone. So, be sure to ask your agent about their processes for matching you with potential buyers.

You want to know they actively contact their buyer database and ensure they know what their buyers want on a regular basis. When someone starts a property search, our analysis shows that more often than not it evolves. An agent needs to be aware of the changes in a buyer’s wants and needs in order to open up opportunities they may not have considered and continue to correctly match them to the right properties.

At Wilkinson Grant we make it our job to offer a ‘Special Buyer Service’ that is rivalled by no other Estate Agent – this gives us access to the most driven and active buyers for your home. We phone them with the exciting news when we have something coming to market they will love before listing the property on the various portals.

We hunt out the properties they are looking for with our ‘Acquisition Service’. Buyers are then prevetted and matched with suitable properties and offered a Virtual Viewing prior to bringing them in to your home.

6.WILL YOU CONDUCT VIEWINGS FOR ME?

It is best for an Estate Agent to accompany the viewings, although some sellers may prefer to do this themselves. The knowledge your agent has of the area and other properties buyers may be viewing will best place them to answer any questions. They also know how to point out the many plus points of your property to match it with the potential buyer.

A big advantage is if your agent knows the local schools, best travel routes, restaurants and benefits of living in the community near your home. If they don’t already, be sure to let them know these details prior to going on the market. Although at Wilkinson Grant our experience and knowledge of the area means we should already have undertaken a comprehensive assessment of this for you.

At the moment the government guidelines indicate agents should have recorded video tours and ensure buyers are in a position to proceed with a purchase prior to actually showing them around a property.

Make sure you find out your agent’s safety procedures on viewings and if there is a charge to accompany buyers. You can find our copy of the Covid-19 Moving/Viewing Guides here.

7.WILL YOU GET VIEWING FEEDBACK FOR EVERY VIEWING?

The good, bad and fantastic feedback – you will want to hear it all. There is nothing worse than not hearing from your Estate Agent after conducting a viewing as they have no feedback for you. Properly researched feedback is the key to ensuring your home finds a potential buyer as soon as possible. Be sure to ask your Estate Agent if they will collect feedback from all viewers and how this will be delivered to you.

At Wilkinson Grant we not only seek to provide instant feedback from viewers but we also collate feedback from those who, for whatever reason, may have chosen not to view. We recognise the importance of regular up to date and honest feedback and we arrange regular reviews to report and recommend actions to maximise interest and keep your property ‘fresh’.

8.WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE MARKETING AND SALE AND ARE THEY TRAINED?

You may well be choosing a company as you liked the person who valued your property, only to find once you have signed on the dotted line with that Estate Agent this was the only time you ever saw the original person.

In our view, you want to be sure you will be in touch with the person that you personally put your trust in and discussed and agreed the terms of service with you.

With Wilkinson Grant, each property is individually managed ‘start to finish’ by dedicated senior staff team members so that we can promise an individual approach, better feedback and closer personal attention. Also, all our customer-facing staff are Trading Standards-approved trained and are CRB checked to ensure your safety

9.HOW MUCH WILL YOU CHARGE?

How much your agent charges is important – but remember, the main thing is your ‘walk-away’ figure… even more so, if you are buying and selling.

You will want to know how much you are going to achieve after fees and how much you end up paying for your next home. Ask yourself this fundamentally important question: if an agent has very low fees, will they work as hard to find as many buyers and achieve you the best possible price? And how much will they assist in helping steer the sale through and help you secure your next home?

To demonstrate: on a £500,000 sale price, an Estate Agent’s fee of 0.5% = £2,500. This is very little compared to being asked to negotiate your price by £10-15,000 due to lack of buyer interest. Or, even worse, losing a sale or having to renegotiate.

At Wilkinson Grant we charge performance-related fees where you won’t pay us a penny in commission unless you are happy with the price we achieve – and we typically achieve over 98% of asking or guide prices.

And it doesn’t end there - each individual sale we conduct is overseen by an experienced in-house former property lawyer. This helps speed up sales process with faster issue resolution and reduces chances of a sale falling through.

10.IS NOW THE TIME TO SELL MY HOME?

You will be hard pressed to find an agent that will say ‘no’ to this question, but let’s look at the facts to assist you with this vital decision.

During the lockdown the entire housing market was put on hold. Those who have sold still need to find and those that were moving for schools, jobs, family, health, finance or other reasons, still need to move.

So, the pent-up demand is a real thing. But on top of that 28% of people that were not looking to move before lockdown are now looking to move.

These might be for any number of reasons that are unlikely to change - from wanting a home office, bigger garden, getting rid of the commute or lifestyle change.

So is now, with all that is going on, really the right time to move? Our answer is a resounding YES – if done correctly and safely with the new marketing approach required.

SO, DO YOU HAVE THE PERFECT 10?

We hope our answers to these vital 10 questions have been helpful. The team at Wilkinson Grant firmly believes once you have the answers you are in a great place to sell your property and/or find your next dream home.

If you have any questions about selling you property or buying with our special buyer service, feel free to contact us at Wilkinson Grant.

*Rightmove Survey May 2020