In 2019, nearly 1.2 million homeowners in the UK sold their property. And many of those homeowners had the help of an estate agent.
An estate agent’s main objective is to assist clients in buying and selling property.
Agents use network connections, word of mouth, and years of experience to advertise listings, attract buyers, and close deals.
While this may seem like a simple process, there’s much more to it. In this step-by-step guide we’ll explore exactly what an estate agent does to earn their commission.
1. FIND PROPERTY SELLERS
First things first. Without property sellers, an estate agent has no business. That means that their first step in securing a sale is to find interested sellers who are ready to list their homes.
Estate agents try numerous ways to get property seller leads! The two most popular are through online marketing and by renting out (or owning) an office space. Either way, a database of CRM tool full of leads is essential for a successful estate agent
In the digital age, some estate agents strictly deal online. With 3.5 billion Google searches being done every day, it’s no secret that a lot of sellers are turning to the Internet when trying to sell their homes.
An estate agent with a strong online presence has the opportunity to attract numerous clients from that alone. To succeed, agents need a quality website that’s relevant, informative, user-friendly, and optimized. SEO (search engine optimization) is key to getting a website to rank high on the SERPs (search engine results page). Agents who are at the top of these pages are much more likely to attract sellers and grow their client list (and income).
Paid advertisements and guest posts and interviews are a few more ways to increase online visibility and attract sellers.
On the other hand, there’s something to be said about in-person interactions. Shaking hands with a prospective client and putting a face and voice to a name is an important part of networking as an estate agent.
Estate agents with an office space or storefront can meet interested clients face-to-face. This helps form working relationships and make a lasting first impression. Having an office also increases visibility and opens the door for foot traffic and other interactions that occur outside the computer screen. This also increases the agent’s ability to network.
Networking is another important part of being a successful estate agent. The more connections agents have, the more access they have to insider information. That means receiving notifications when desirable properties hit the market and being able to advertise properties to exclusive buyers.
Many estate agents connect with other professionals in the field to learn, grow, and continue to better themselves. Professionals in any field can benefit from working with colleagues and real estate is no different.
2. AGREE THEIR FEE
Estate agents charge fees in exchange for selling a property. Historically, the estate agent would charge a fee based on a % of the sale price. However it is becoming more common for estate agents to offer a fixed price fee.
For estate agents changing a % of the sale price, fees usually fluctuate between 0.5%-1.5% of the sale price. Depending on the size of your property and negotiation skills, you should always try to get a better offer from the estate agent.
As alluded to earlier, a lot is spent on generating estate agent leads, so it’s likely an agent would be willing to accommodate discounts on their typical fees.
Agents charging fixed prices can seem a better deal for a property seller. You know how much is going to be paid to the agent upfront.
However this means that whether or not an agent sells your property for 10% under or 10% over the asking price, they’ll get the same fee from the seller. This brings into question if the estate agent will push for a better fee on behalf of the seller.
In addition some fixed estate agent fees need to be paid upfront. Therefore regardless of if the agent sells a property or not, they still get paid.
This isn’t to say that an agent isn’t bothered or not if they sell your property under a fixed fee however. Estate agent rating sites, comparison sites and the major portals publish how good estate agents are at selling properties. As such, agents would be very aware that their skills and stats on selling properties are in the public view.
3. FINALISE A SALE PRICE
Every seller thinks their home is one in a million. They’re emotionally invested in it, which makes selecting a sale price difficult. An estate agent can help sellers determine the right listing price based on current market trends.
The first step is to see what other comparable homes have recently sold for.
Houses that are the same size, in the same location, and in the same condition often sell for around the same price. The buyer’s agents will have this information too, so they’ll know that the asking price is fair and legitimate. An estate agent can also help sellers understand why their home may sell for slightly more or less than others.
They may even suggest performing minor repairs or renovations to increase your home’s value or advice against doing so if the time and cost aren’t worth the return. Local estate agents with a deep understanding of the local community, neighborhoods, and market are often best. Some agents suggest sellers list their homes slightly higher to start and then work their way down from there.
4. PHOTOGRAPH THE PROPERTY
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. “They” must’ve been talking about photographs for property listings. We’ve all seen amature photos of properties online. Not only do these photos look unprofessional but they don’t attract many buyers.
Estate agents are skilled in taking professional, clear, and attractive photographs of a property. They show each room and outdoor space from the best possible angle. A perfectly timed photograph can make a home seem larger and more desirable.
Many sellers make the mistake of taking photographs themselves. Snapping family photos is one thing, but when it comes to selling your property, you want to put your best foot forward from the start.
After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Not only are estate agents skilled at taking quality photos, but they also know how to properly stage a home. This includes clearing off kitchen counters, taking down personal pictures, and making other small changes to create a clean, fresh look.
The goal of real estate photos is to help the buyers imagine themselves living in the space. The emptier, the better. Now, prospective buyers can easily envision themselves in the home or property.
5. ADVERTISE PROPERTIES
What’s the purpose of taking stunning property photos if you don’t know how to properly advertise them?
Advertising properties for sale is one of the biggest jobs of an estate agent. After all, they don’t get a commission if they don’t close a deal.
Experienced agents have plenty of tricks up their sleeve, meaning they have connections with other agents, organizations, online selling websites, and even recommendations.
A reputable agent utilizes all of their resources to find sellers the best possible buyer and price. Estate agents also compile attractive write-ups and advertisements for display both online and in mailers.
It’s no surprise that online advertisements are some of the most popular. Remember those 3.5 billion daily Google searches? Some of them are for property listings. Estate agents post properties on real estate websites like Zoopla and Rightmove, which attract nearly 135 million searches every month!
The major portals: Zoopla & Rightmove
These websites are exclusive to estate agents, which means sellers only encounter serious buyers. This eliminates a lot of stress and keeps sellers from getting their hopes up only to have a sale fall through.
It’s also a nice alternative for sellers who don’t want to be bothered with responding to inquiries or handling the tedious tasks of selling their home. After all, that’s what an estate agent is paid for!
Estate agents monitor these websites for their clients to avoid missed opportunities. Advertising properties online also helps sellers get the most eyes on their property and find buyers fast. Most homes on Rightmove are sold within days!
But online websites aren’t the only sources for selling property. Estate agents also have to perform some legwork and get their hands dirty when it comes to advertising a property for sale. Contacting other agents is a good place to start.
Remember how we talked about networking? Most estate agents have close relationships with several other professionals in the local area. When they see a listing that fits their colleagues’ client best or is in their area of expertise, they contact them. This is the art of doing good business and the favor is often returned.
When a property doesn’t sell as quickly as the estate agent promised or predicted, they have to sit down and reevaluate their approach. Agents must also keep their clients in the loop about how well advertising efforts are going, how many inquiries and views their property received, and if they should adjust the sale price.
6. SECURE PREMIUM LISTINGS
When it comes to putting a property at the forefront of every buyers’ list, it’s usually done by securing a premium listing.
These property listings are highlighted or featured on the real estate sites mentioned above (and others). Think of it like having your website rank at the top of the SERPs page. Chances are, buyers will click on one of the first homes they see that fits their criteria or “wish list”. Estate agents can help get their client’s homes to the top of that list, gaining more views, clicks, and offers.
Most online listings only show one photograph of a property for sale. Premium listings get 3 pictures, increasing interest. The listing itself is also highlighted in a different color to draw more attention.
One report showed that premium listings get 33% more views than traditional listings. Estate agents will determine if this upgrade is needed. This usually happens after a property has been on the market for several days or weeks without much interest. In fact, 75% of people who click on a property listing will follow through with a viewing.
This means more prospective buyers, the ability to choose your buyer, and even the potential for a bidding war where the seller gets more than the asking price.
There is, of course, an added cost for a premium listing but first impressions are crucial. Most agents and interested buyers will click on the newest listings rather than search through older posts. A premium listing can help sellers earn those clicks from the start, when it matters most.
7. SCHEDULE VIEWINGS AND OPEN HOUSES
The next stop on the list for estate agent duties is scheduling viewings and open houses. Once a potential buyer contacts the agent based on a listing they saw, chances are, they’ll ask for a viewing.
This means they want to see the property in person and possibly make an offer. It’s recommended that the homeowners aren’t involved in this process.
Not only is it difficult for homeowners to hear potential buyers comment on their beloved home (whether it’s a negative or positive), but the homeowners’ presence makes buyers uncomfortable.
Buyers may also be too embarrassed or hesitant to ask important questions.
Estate agents handle this part of the process by choosing a time, providing a tour of the property, highlighting the home’s best features, and following up with the buyer’s agent in 24-48 hours.
Agents are also there to answer any questions about the property. But handling inquiries isn’t the only thing estate agents do.
They also tap into their inventory of buyers who are looking for a home like yours. Perhaps you’re selling a 3 bedroom house with a large backyard in a neighborhood with good schools.
This might be the exact property that one of the agent’s other clients has been searching for. The agent will contact that client and schedule a time for them to see your home.
Open Houses are another popular way that estate agents get eyes on a listing and drum up interest. Why wait for an inquiry when you can host an open house that brings in several potential buyers at once?
It’s important to note that this is one main difference between an online agent and a high street agent.
Online estate agents don’t normally perform any in-person tasks like viewings or open houses.
Highstreet agents bring knowledge about the local area and are much more “hands-on” in terms of handling the property and interacting directly with potential buyers. Hybrid agents are growing in popularity.
These estate agents perform both in-person and online tasks that include viewings and open houses.
The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that viewings were severely disrupted. Agents are required to implement social distancing procedures during viewings, which your average property seller may struggle with.
Virtual viewings have also increased in popularity. Potential buyers can now view properties from their own home. Although it’s not quite the same as visiting a property physically, it has helped sell thousands of properties across the UK.
8. THE NEGOTIATION
It’s common for buyers and sellers to go back and forth several times before agreeing on a final price, so pricing high gives you some room to negotiate.
Haggling over a price can be very stressful, especially for the buyers and sellers who are emotionally invested in the property. Sellers believe their property is worth a certain amount and most buyers are trying to get the best deal.
This can cause emotions and tensions to run high. Estate agents act as the go-between for buyers and sellers, keeping the entire process positive and preventing disagreements or hurt feelings.
While the ultimate goal is to settle on a price that’s fair for both parties. estate agents act in the best interest of their clients and advise them accordingly.
9. FINALIZE CONTRACTS AND PAPERWORK
Paperwork is another tedious task but an important part of the selling process. Most homeowners have no idea what goes into a contract or what paperwork is necessary to create a legal, binding agreement.
Estate agents are well-versed in local laws and guidelines. Unless they have a law degree, estate agents can’t draft legal contracts. They can, however, use templates provided by a law firm to complete the necessary paperwork for a home sale. This is known as a purchase agreement.
Not all purchase agreements are the same. A lot of different factors impact exactly what goes into the agreement, which is why most law firms have several templates and standard contracts that agents can customize to fit the client’s needs. Some of the basic line items listed on a purchase agreement include:
- Buyer and seller information
- Pricing and financing
- Closing date
- Property details
- Termination requirements and conditions
Clients will meet with their estate agents to sign all the necessary paperwork, although some documents can be signed electronically.
Both the buyer and seller must agree to and confirm the information included in the agreement. Estate agents are responsible for changing (or requesting changes from the attorney involved) any incorrect data or errors before finalizing the agreement.
Selling your home and moving are listed as two of the most stressful events an adult goes through.
Preparing your home for sale, deciding on a price, and letting go of the nostalgia connected to the home are all difficult tasks.
An estate agent is there to help simplify the process and shoulder most of the burden in terms of showing the home, securing a buyer, and negotiating a price. A qualified estate agent will see the entire process through from start to finish.
The more homes an agent sells and the more positive reviews they receive, the more business (and revenue) they bring in. For sellers who want to sell their homes quickly and at top-dollar, hiring an estate agent is the only way to go!
ESTATE AGENT ADD-ONS
Estate agents have a number of add-on services they offer to their customers, each one helping them on their journey to buying a property.
Do you need a mortgage for your new home? Do you owe money on your current home? Estate agents can help you pay off your existing mortgage, secure a new one, and even refinance your current mortgage or transfer it to your new home.
There may be some confusion over the difference between an estate agent and a mortgage lender, especially when your agent might recommend a lender. Let’s take a look at the differences and how an agent can help you secure the financing you need.
Many estate agents can not only recommend a lender but offer some financial insight themselves, depending on their experience. Mortgage lenders, specifically, are trained in finding you the best interest rate possible for your loan.
Each situation is different. First, you have to determine how much you owe on your current property and how much you’ve decided to sell for. This will tell you how much profit you have to work with and if you need a mortgage for your next home.
Your estate agent can give you some guidance on the next steps or refer you to a mortgage lender. Many lenders and agents work together with your best interests in mind.
Buyers and sellers can work with an agent first before contacting a lender or the other way around. Some people prefer to get pre-approved for a mortgage before house-hunting. Others are fine with being just pre-qualified and starting the process sooner.
When you’re pre-qualified, you know an estimated figure you can borrow whereas pre-approval tells you exactly what you can borrow. Either way, your estate agent can help put you on the right path to homeownership.
Conveyancers are not fully-qualified attorneys. Instead, they’re responsible specifically for transferring the title from one entity or property to another. This is a necessary step in the home buying and selling process and one that is often confused with a solicitor.
Once you sell your home, you need to transfer the title to the new owners. This is exactly what a conveyancer does. Ask your estate agent what conveyancer they generally use. This individual can also give you some legal advice, but you’re better off using a solicitor as well for other legal steps in the home sale process.
A solicitor will help with all other legal documents and paperwork, although some solicitors are also licensed conveyancers. The main difference between the two is that a solicitor has a certificate to practice law, whereas a conveyancer can only transfer property.
Your estate agent can recommend a solicitor that does both if you want to save time and money. It’s in your best interest to use a solicitor if you have other, specific law-related questions. They can offer advice on taxes, the legal parameters of the contract, and other general property advice.
For simple sales, a conveyancer is likely enough. More complicated transfers that require other legal documents or steps may benefit from having a qualified solicitor on your side.
Help Finding and Obtaining Home Insurance
Homeowners insurance is a must if you plan to have a mortgage on your new home. Even if you don’t, it’s highly recommended. This type of insurance covers the cost of repairing or replacing your home in the event of a natural disaster. This could include a weather event, fire, flood, or other unexpected tragedy.
So, where does your estate agent come into play? Similar to recommending a mortgage lender, many agents work closely with insurance companies. They can make recommendations and also offer advice on what type of insurance you need and how much it will cost.
Basic coverage protects the home’s structure, personal belongings (including furniture), liability, and other belongings (jewelry, clothing, etc.). If you plan to get a mortgage, the cost of your insurance may be rolled into your monthly mortgage payment.
Adjusting deductibles is one way to increase or decrease the monthly cost. Higher deductibles mean lower monthly payments. Your estate agent can advise you on what type of coverage you need and help you budget accordingly. Ultimately, an insurance agent will approve your policy and finalize it, but your agent can connect you with a qualified professional.
Letting Agent Services
Are you buying or selling your home as a rental property? Many estate agents also offer letting agent services. Letting agents help landlords manage their rental properties. This is a huge weight off your shoulders as a landlord or property investor.
If you plan to use your new property for rental purposes or sell it as such, a letting agent can help. Some agents offer full-management services which include rent collection, performing all maintenance and repairs, and drafting the necessary paperwork. You can also hire a letting agent for individual services like finding and referencing tenants.
If your estate agent doesn’t offer these services, Rentround can help you find and compare reputable letting agents in your local area. A local agent is best since they’re familiar with the area, its features and amenities, and the current market value.
Ask your estate agent if they work in property management as well or use Rentround to find the best agent for your needs and budget.