I often get asked about the variation in estate agent and property management fees – it’s a fair question because I guess, as a consumer, it must be difficult to decide on the best route to take.

In my opinion, you must make comparisons – estate agents and property managers all sell or let property, we all have offices, we all advertise in local newspapers and on Rightmove. We all have a telephone number to ring. We all have boards to go outside your property etc etc. We are all capable of pulling details out of a filing cabinet!

However, whilst this might just do the trick for some, sadly it is not as easy as that and if you want to achieve the best possible price in the quickest amount of time and with less inconvenience then can I suggest you spend just a few minutes before you decide on an agent and make some comparisons.

Start with an agent that catches your eye and then make a list of the usual things you will get – as suggested above.

Then here is the crucial and most important bit … we’re looking for value in the service you’ll be getting and calculating the potential cost by not making comparisons.

Now, go through this list and make sure that the agent is going to be able to say yes to everything below (then I want you to do just one more thing):

• that there are at least 5 full time members of the team who can help and administrate your sale and needs for the next 3-6 months of an impending move – trust me you need at least this amount on hand to deal with any eventuality.

• are they contactable 7 days a week and available in the evenings and weekends when you need them?

• will your property be advertised on the internet with the most compelling benefits and photographs – have you checked estate agents websites and actually seen what they do and don’t do? It takes experience and training to get good quality buyers and tenants.

• How much is it worth to have an agent who advertises on all the national property websites – there are in excess of 20? Just one website and Rightmove is simply not enough.

• Will every single viewing be handled by an experienced agent or a part-timer or worst still, will you have to do it yourself?

• Will all 5 members of the team have seen my property inside s0o all the potential buyer/tenant enquiries are handled with complete confidence?

• How experienced and locally knowledgeable is the agent?

• What is the general feel of the agent? Do they have any compelling reviews to show you?

• Is their office in a prominent position within the local community – this is not imperative, but very helpful.

• Have you asked who is going to do the negotiation of the sale price – for the very best price this needs to be done by a trained and experienced expert? Just one or two extra telephone calls can often amount to paying for all your moving costs – trust me a respected estate agent will achieve this for you.

• Have you thought about what other agents in the area think about the cheapest agent? Often your chosen agent will need assistance from other local agents and it helps a lot if you are respected within your professional community?

• Within their fee, does the agent include working closely with you after you have accepted an offer and sticking up for you, protecting you and looking after you – I’ve never been asked this question. Well I suppose you wouldn’t think of that because at the moment you go on the market all you are interested in is getting a buyer.

• Is the agent a member of the National Association of Estate Agents and The Property Ombudsman Scheme – who will you go to for help if you had any concerns?

• …. and anything else that you need – is the agent prepared to adapt to your individual needs?

Not many agents do all of this and some do none of it at all …. which is fine – as long as you know.

Now here is the key, so to speak – each one of these points has a monetary value, well that’s assuming you feel that any of these services will help you gain the best price and service money can buy – inevitably the price you achieve for the property will cover your costs anyway so if done properly will allow you to receive all these benefits with your moving costs covered? Does that make sense?

So run down this list and place a monetary value next to each point – and please be honest.

Only now can you appreciate the difference between the cheapest agent and the rest available – I promise you that the more expensive agent will have the best value if you do your sums and you will have a better experience that lets face it you deserve.

Seriously how much more is the most expensive agent than the cheapest – is it worth it?

Hot tip – when you come across an agent who you know is ‘right up your street’ and will give you the service you deserve, don’t ask him/ her to reduce his/her fees because you are asking them to effectively down value the quality of their service and that is not something I would recommend – instead just shake their hand and ask them to get on with it!

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