A survey carried out by propertyfinder.com, says sellers considered an estate agent's responsiveness as most essential of all, and were most likely to choose agents who were readily available when they needed help or advice. By contrast, agents who turned up unannounced with potential purchasers wanting to view the property were likely to lose business. Vendors expect agents to have an intimate knowledge of their home and the local area and expect the agents to be able to answer questions on their behalf.
Bottom of housesellers' shopping list comes the provision of mortgage and conveyancing services. An astonishing 42% of respondents considered it irrelevant in their decision, far ahead of any other factor.
Nick Leeming, director of propertyfinder.com, says: “Housesellers are overlooking the advantages that their estate agent providing mortgage broking and other services can have. The whole process can run much more smoothly if purchasers are not left to arrange financing on their own. And the seller may need a mortgage for their next property too.
“Women are much more demanding than men in their expectations in almost all categories. They were far more likely to consider it essential that agents had a good local reputation, were readily available, made appointments, knew the property and area well and would market their home on the internet. Men on the other hand, were far more likely to seek lower fees than women and were less bothered by high pressure selling techniques that some aggressive agents employ.”
One female respondent says: “I was not impressed to find my agent and two potential buyers on my doorstep at 9am. It was the morning after my birthday party, I was in my nightie and the flat was a pigsty. I sacked the agent.
“Men were far less concerned that agents made viewing appointments and did not see the importance of showing their home off in its best light.”
Leeming says: 'Women research their agents in a different way to men. Men may underestimate the need to present a home at its best before a viewing and are less worried if potential viewers turned up unannounced. Men behaving badly makes good sitcom, but a poor marketing technique.
“Overall, low fees came much further down the list. Vendors did not select on price, partly because agents' fees are fairly standard but mainly because they were far more concerned about quality of service. Sellers with higher value homes are much more concerned about fees. Those who consider low fees 'essential' were selling homes 38% more expensive than those who considered low fees irrelevant.
“The internet has come of age too. Having their property effectively marketed on the internet was the second most important factor vendors used in selecting their agent. The internet is now the most important place to search for a new home, with 79% of househunters starting their search in front of a computer.”
Leeming, director of propertyfinder.com adds: “Selling a home is a very stressful business and vendors need to know that their estate agent is there to help them through a complex and sometimes agonising process. The best agents will keep their clients advised of all developments in the selling cycle, including regular updates on the responses received, appointments to view, interest in a property, offers submitted and the progress of a contract. While it may be important to be competitive on price, low fees do not compensate for an inexperienced, misinformed and incapable estate agent.”