How to Choose an Estate Agent in Edinburgh?

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Tips from Cameron Stephen on how to choose an estate agent when you are selling your property in Edinburgh.

If you haven’t sold a property before, or haven’t sold for some time, then these tips will be of some assistance when the time comes for you to make your choice of estate agent when selling in Edinburgh.

Right at the start, I should disclose that my business is an Edinburgh-based firm of solicitors and estate agents. That said and I have “out-ed” myself, I shall endeavour to be as impartial as possible. What I intend to do in this article is simply to give you, if you are thinking of selling your property in Edinburgh, the benefit of someone who is in the business and give you a few things to think about.

Tip 1: There is no such thing as a bad estate agent

Although the popular view of estate agents is that as a species they are more closely related to sharks than to people, that is not the case. Well, certainly not the case in my experience in the Edinburgh property market. They will always do their best to sell your home for the best market price and in the shortest time.

After all that is their business.

In saying that, the current property market in Edinburgh at the moment, does make the job of an Edinburgh Estate Agent fairly easy. Anyone who is trying to buy a property in Edinburgh over the past few months will know that property prices are a little crazy with buyers having to pay 10% or more over Home Report value to secure a property. So, getting sellers a quick sale at a good price is not particularly challenging for most properties (but not by any means all properties) in and around Edinburgh.

But, if there is no such thing as a bad estate agent, how do you go about making a decision as to which agent to appoint when the time comes to sell your home? That comes down to what you want from your estate agent.

Tip 2: Is having your property marketed on the ESPC important to you?

Almost everyone looking to buy a property in Edinburgh knows to look on the ESPC website first. Why? Because it was the first of its kind and, in my opinion, is still the best property portal there is in the U.K for local property searching.

Unlike the UK wide property portals, it benefits from being able to concentrate on the local property market. I am not knocking the other property portals (Zoopla etc) but I do think that having your property marketed on the ESPC is a big plus. But it does come at an extra cost... Currently in Edinburgh for most properties the ESPC charges a marketing fee of £425 so that is a cost to bear in mind.

So, tip 2 is if you want to have your property listed on the ESPC, make sure your estate agent is an ESPC member firm of solicitors and estate agents. To be a member of the ESPC you have to be a firm of solicitors which has estate agency services, which most Edinburgh solicitors do provide.

Tip 3: Is there an advantage of your estate agent also offering in-house conveyancing services?

We are lucky in Edinburgh that most solicitors also offer conveyancing services. I see this as being an advantage, because not only will you receive experienced advice on the estate agency aspects of your sale, but you will also get in-house professional advice and services on the whole sale process, and the purchase process if you are also to buy your new home after selling your home.

So, if that is important to you, remember to choose an estate agent which also offers in-house conveyancing.

Tip 4: What is it all going to cost you?

There is no way of getting around it; it does cost money to sell your home. And many estate agents websites do not really provide much guidance as to their commission, fees and the other costs involved. So, you will need to fill in a form with some details to request a quote for the fees and costs. Even where a fixed fee service is being offered, you will need to fill in a form to get a quote to give you the full costs.

So, typically what costs are involved?

I shall mention fees or commission at the end but the sale-related costs are such things as:

  • The cost of the Home Report
  • The cost of photos and brochures
  • The cost of marketing in the ESPC and other property portals (Zoopla, Rightmove etc)

So, don’t be put off by having to fill in a form. It is not necessarily because estate agents want to lure you into their web - it is simply because by having a better idea of the value of your property they can provide you with a more accurate idea of what it is all going to cost you.

And if you are getting a quote from a solicitor, that quote will also contain information & details about the conveyancing fees and costs to complete your sale.

As for fees or commission, these are the main variables in the total costs of selling. Some estate agents will charge you a fee/commission based as a percentage of the sale price of your property and others will offer you a fixed fee.

In my firm, we took a decision at the very start that we should offer a fixed fee for our estate agency service. We are very strong on that being part of our ethos, but if a commission based fee is what you prefer there is plenty of choice available.

Tip 5: Where will your property be seen?

I have already mentioned the ESPC but if that is not what you want or you want your home to be marketed on other property portals such as Zoopla, Prime Location or Rightmove then you will need to check this with the agents. Sometimes you will find this information on their website, sometimes you will need to ask.

But you can do some of this work yourself but looking on those property portals to see if they market their properties on whichever is your favourite.

Tip 6: Should you go with the agent who gives you the highest valuation of your property?

We are all the same in thinking that our property is worth more than our neighbours and so we will all be tempted to go with the agent who gives our home a higher value than the others. Why not? But make sure you understand them correctly and that they can back up their valuation with information.

When agents give you a valuation firstly this is what they think in their opinion your home will be valued at for Home Report purposes. And secondly, the agent will give you some idea of what they think your home will achieve in the current market in Edinburgh which, in recent months, can be 10% or more above home report value.

Also worth pointing out here is whether or not the agent is prepared to come out to see you to give you your valuation at a time that suits you – i.e. are they prepared to come out to see you after working hours or a weekend?

Tip 7: Is having good professional photos of your property important to you?

Personally I do think this is important.

We do use a company of professional photographers to take our property photos and the difference does show. Perhaps beware of those companies that say they have professional photographers take their photos as sometimes the evidence from their websites calls this into doubt. Buyers browsing properties on the property portals do make a judgement about a property very quickly and the photos do play a part in their making a decision on whether or not to take the next step and arrange a viewing.

Ask yourself if you do anything different when you are browsing properties?

Tip 8: Do you want a service that includes assistance showing your property?

In Edinburgh there is a strong tradition that sellers show their homes to buyers whether that is at open viewings or at other times. But a lot of buyers want to view properties during the day. So, do you want an estate agency service that offers assistance showing your property to buyers? And is it going to cost more?

By and large, most estate agents in Edinburgh do offer this service but it does come at an extra cost. So find out what those costs are as they can mount up.

Tip 9: Do you like the estate agent?

I know it is expected that there will be 10 tips but in this case I shall make it the last one. People like dealing with people they like. If you like the person that comes round to give you a valuation and explain their services, then pretty much that is your decision made.

 


Can we help you?

If you are thinking of selling then why not find out more about our great value fixed fee estate agency service.


Passionate about property and providing great service at value for money.

Cameron Stephen
Partner with Cameron Stephen & Co. solicitors and estate agents, Edinburgh
cameron@cameronstephen.co.uk
0131 555 1296

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