Paul Cooney of Horton and Garton tells you what you should be asking
When a would-be home seller meets potential estate agents there are certain points about how the service works and the steps taken to sell a property that might be missed during opening discussions.
As a long time Chiswick selling agent, there are a few questions that potential sellers sometimes ask that I agree are really important and others that sellers who are switching agents say they wish they'd asked as they only found out when it was too late.
Hopefully the below will help W4 residents have a smoother experience when selling their home.
- How will you make my property stand out?
With buyers spending more time online before viewing in person its incredibly important to know your selling agent is very good at putting together property details online, be sure to look through their current listings on portals to check that you're happy with what they produce.
Some agents' details have a bare minimum number of images and just 2 lines for a description – logic tells you that won't help your home stand out.
I'm incredibly particular about property marketing to ensure it is spot on and it pays off for our vendors. According to Rightmove our listings are the most viewed in W4, the most recent statistics recorded our properties to receive 199 views per day, our nearest competitors were behind at 124 and 109 views per day.
- How experienced are you, and your team?
Though I have no greys to prove my age and am often asked for details of my daily skin regime, I have in fact been selling homes for over 13 years and have personally sold over 532 properties in West London to date.
Beyond me, the rest of the team has both an intrinsic knowledge of Chiswick and many years working in property, Giorgia for example has worked as a selling agent for over 5 years and Amy, our property writer has over 10 years in the industry and has lived in Chiswick for 6 of those.
- What extra marketing, do you offer?
From our professional photographers to the local property writer, we have a team of experts who put together stunning and informative details that ensure each property is showcased in its best light.
Recognising the digital world we live in our dedicated Social Media Manager presents listings on the increasingly important social media platforms to ensure they are seen in as many places as possible.
- Percentage of asking price achieved from the last 5 sales?
One of the best ways to establish if an agent is delivering results is to ask what percentage of asking prices they have achieved recently.
The last 5 sales in the Horton and Garton Chiswick office have achieved between 98.5% and 104% of the listed asking price – I love being asked this question.
There's no reason for an agent to not supply this information, they're not giving away anything sensitive but simply providing a demonstration of their recent successes.
- Who will be showing my property?
With most agencies it's unlikely that the person who conducted the market appraisal and who you've trusted with the sale of your home will be showing potential buyers around. Unfortunately, it can often be someone who's never even been into your property prior to viewing with a potential buyer meaning they're unlikely to make the best impression. Be sure to ask who'll be showing potential buyers around.
Working with only a handful of properties at any one time means our attentions are focused and having just myself or Giorgia conducting viewings means we can offer a very bespoke experience to both buyers and sellers.
- Who manages my sale from offer accepted to completion?
One of Horton and Garton Chiswick's most unique features is that each transaction is managed by the most experienced member of the team, myself, the Director.
Across the property industry as a whole 33% of transactions are reported to fall through, since opening the office four years ago our fall through rate is just 11%.
Having experience and diligence on side to handle the transaction at what is arguably the most complicated part of the process is paramount.
- Do you have weekend staff?
Typical for the area, the Chiswick office's viewing diary is usually completely full on a Saturday meaning it's important to know who's going to be conducting those appointments.
The viewing experience is key, especially since buyers are now really only viewing in person if they're impressed by online details. As Director, I work every Saturday to ensure our clients and buyers are getting the very best viewing experience.
- Do you have Land Registry data to support the valuation?
Always ask your agent to support the valuation figure with recently sold price data.
The Land Registry is where property prices of homes that are sold are officially registered and is where your agent should be able to take examples from in order to demonstrate and support the price they've proposed for your property.
Homes that are currently on the market are a poor comparison as no one has agreed to purchase those properties meaning that figure might never be achieved and is unrealistic.
- What's the contract length and is there a notice period?
Probably one of the most important questions you'll ask a potential agent.
Always be wary of not just the contract length but the notice period. For example you could have a 12 week contract and a 4 week notice period, making it a 16 week contract – an awfully long time to be tied in if it's not working out.
We have a 4 week contract and no notice period, I firmly believe that is enough time to sell or at least establish if the agent is doing their job well.
- How many properties have you reduced in price and what were they reduced by?
Getting the value right from the outset is incredibly important.
Buyers can be fickle, if your property has been online for some time at a high price and is yet to sell those scrolling through listings often assume that the property is overpriced or that there is something wrong.
Though it might feel a little uncomfortable to ask this question, you'll soon establish if an agent is delivering on the numbers they're promising. This year we've had one price change of 3.7%.
Thinking of selling?
As always, Paul is available to discuss the current Chiswick property market, your plans to sell and would be delighted to provide further information surrounding these questions and any others you might have! Contact Paul on 020 8996 5120.
May 20, 2021