Published: 13/03/2022How to gauge if an estate agent gives you an honest property valuation
"How much can you sell my property for?" and "What is your fee?" are the first questions a seller will ask. Perfectly reasonable questions as focusing on these two essential factors determine how much you'll end up with in your pocket when the property is sold. But if you are choosing an agent based on these two points only, we advise you to ask two more questions before signing the contract.
Ask if there is a tie-in clause in the contract and if so, how long is it? And, can you terminate the agreement if you're dissatisfied with the service they provide?
Unfortunately, more sellers than not skip these questions, and it's not until things go wrong that they realise they're locked into an unfavourable contract.
Not all agents ask for a tie-in, but some ask you to commit to a minimum period to market the property.
Other agents lock you in for 24 weeks and then, on top of that, a 28-day notice period. It's up to you to decide what tie-in length you are comfortable with but make sure you understand what you're getting into from the outset.
Overvaluing your property
It's also worth questioning why an agent has a 24-week tie-in. If they genuinely think their pricing strategy is correct, why do they need nearly half a year to sell the property? Unless, of course, their strategy is to overvalue your home to secure your custom deliberately. They know that eventually, the price will have to drop, but they don't mind – they've got you cornered. Unfortunately, it is a tactic some agents use to get your business, but it wastes everyone's time and can jeopardise your next purchase, especially if you're part of a chain.
Be wary of long notice periods as some contracts not only commit you to an extended tie-in but require a notice period if you want to terminate. Often, longer tie-in and notice periods result in the agent not putting their all into selling your property because they know you can't go elsewhere in a hurry. So, you get to the end of an extended tie-in and think, 'hallelujah, I'm free,' only to discover you're not and are still locked in.
- Do your research before appointing an agent.
- Don't sign a contract you haven't carefully read.
- Don't forget; you can negotiate tie-in periods as they're not set in stone contrary to what your agent might say.
- Appoint a local agent with a reputation for excellent service and delivering on their promises.