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Tips on how to avoid cowboy estate agencies

Here, London agency, Young London, offers its top tips to help identify a reputable sales or letting agent:

Play web detective
Fully research the agent’s website. It is a good start to see if they are members of any professional associations, if they have won any awards and whether their information is easily navigable, up to date and accurate.

Stand out from the crowd
With more than 80% of house hunters turning to the web for their property search, online marketing has never been more important, but it takes more than just signing up to property portals to keep ahead of the competition. Does the agent use Twitter or Facebook to share property with a wider audience and do they advertise directly online or is your property left languishing, lost on the portals?

What are they marketing?
Agents listing properties similar to yours should have a clear idea about rental and sale values, a greater understanding of the local area, and potentially a long line of registered applicants already seeking property in comparable areas and price brackets!

Test the agent
A quick way of testing if an agent is worth their salt is simply asking them about Home Information Packs, Energy Performance Certificates, Gas Safety Certificates and Tenants Deposit Protection. A good agent should be able to talk about these confidently and explain your legal obligations when selling or letting.

Don’t be afraid to ask!
Prepare a checklist of questions; make sure the agent is knowledgeable about the market, questioning them specifically about any local amenities the area has to offer, the demographics of the target market and how well your property would fit
into this. You’ll also want to check what the demand is likely to be and how quickly they think they can sell or rent your property.

First impressions really do count
Is the agent responsive and do they follow up your inquiry with an informed answer? Their initial contact could well be indicative of their professionalism and how the business is run so first impressions really do count!

Avoid hidden charges at all cost
Avoid getting stung by hidden costs; any reputable agent should be transparent and upfront about their fees from the beginning. Don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest agent you come across; make sure you are clear on their charges and investigate the full range of services and the quality of service they offer.

Lettings retention and renewals
If looking for a lettings agent, do the tenants generally stay for the duration and how many tend to renew their tenancy? In terms of renewals, remember, the agent should be negotiating on your behalf to achieve the best possible rental and aim to avoid renewals coming at a point in the year when demand is low (eg close to Christmas).

How do they manage?
Any letting agent with a strong property management team should have reliable contractors to relieve any potential headaches. Are their maintenance firms members of any professional bodies? Ask them to advise on the cost of typical maintenance jobs and how soon they would expect to have someone on site after a reported problem.

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One thought on “Tips on how to avoid cowboy estate agencies

  1. Nick says:

    We have considered adding an agent rating system to our list of estate agents but in the meantime users can see what associations the agents are registered to. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to actually contact the association to enquire about an agent in question and maybe get some feedback from them and if they are indeed members or not.

    Another option is to run an online search such as ‘agents name’ , ‘location’ ‘reviews’ or ‘feedback’ etc etc and see what comes up. You may find a review by someone ( good or bad ) and make a decision based on a few factors.


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