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Vast majority of sellers say local branch staff are key to selecting agent

The vast majority of sellers surveyed by a consumer group say rapport with branch staff in a locally-based office is important when choosing an estate agency to instruct.

Some 87 per cent say that rapport with branch staff is key choosing their agent while 52 per cent of sellers and 43 per cent of buyers visited the estate agent branch. 

The figures come in a survey of over 1,100 people who have in the past used an agency to sell their home. 

The study was conducted for the consumer group Homeowners Alliance, and its finding have prompted scathing criticism of sellers by the organisation, because of the public’s alleged lack of research.

Sellers “are leaving themselves at risk of getting a poor deal when choosing an estate agent” according to the HOA.

The survey suggests that while 96 per cent say fees charged by the estate agent are important, only half of sellers invited two or more agents around to do a valuation and sales pitch.

Only one in four sellers (26 per cent) negotiated the commission they paid and only one in five (22 per cent) asked to see the agent’s standard terms and conditions before selecting their preferred agent. 

Meanwhile, HOA says that despite 91 per cent of respondents saying performance of the estate agent – their success rate, ability to achieve asking price and the number of properties on their books – was important, only 32 per cent checked their agent’s recommended selling price against similar properties on Land Registry, Rightmove or Zoopla.  

Only one if five (19 per cent) of sellers looked for feedback or online reviews on the agent they engaged, and only 30 per cent of sellers say they read the fine print on their contract carefully. 

Also in the list of important factors in choosing an estate agent are recommendations from neighbours, friends or family (73 per cent) and previous experience of the estate agent – having bought or sold from the agent before (68 per cent). 

Industry awards are cited as the least important factor in choosing an agent (49 per cent). 

And the survey suggests that professionalism, appearance and manner matter more to consumers than experience. 

Professional cues rate as highly important in choosing an estate agent: 93 per cent say answering the phone professionally with prompt follow-up is important and 93 per cent say professional and smart-looking property particulars are important. 

Some 27 per cent say they would be put-off by an agent being over-familiar and 20 per cent would be put-off an agent that does not look presentable. 

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