We may still be in January but the race is already under way in the 2022 housing market — and for canny sellers, there’s no time to lose.
The average asking price of property coming to market across the UK since the New Year is £341,019, according to Rightmove.
That’s 7.6 per cent more than a year ago and is the highest annual rate of price growth recorded by the property website since 2016.
But some analysts say we’re nearing the top of the market.
Boom time: The average asking price of property coming to market across the UK since the New Year is £341,019, – 7.6% more than a year ago
‘House price growth may start to tail off,’ says Jason Tebb, chief executive of another property website OnTheMarket.
‘It remains the best time in two decades to sell, but it could be argued that it is better to do so sooner rather than later.’
On top of that, a cost of living crisis led by anticipated soaring energy bills and higher inflation means the economy may be in better shape now than at any time for the rest of this year.
So if you’re in a hurry, choosing the right agent is essential. Here are our top tips for doing just that:
Showing what you’ve got
‘If your home has unique features, choose an agent with the best photography and marketing — for example, drone footage if it’s near countryside.
If it is in an area filled with similar properties, such as townhouses, find out which agent is getting the highest price and focus less on flashy marketing,’ says Claire Coode, of Stacks Property Search, a buying agency.
Find out from neighbours, friends, family members and workmates who have recently sold, which agents and companies in the area performed well, and which didn’t.
Sold! An agent hands over the keys
Nathan Emerson, chief executive of Propertymark — a trade group — says the best quality agents are likely to be those who have qualifications and join a professional body even though neither is mandatory.
‘Having an agent that’s qualified and a member of a body shows a voluntary drive and professional commitment for keeping standards and knowledge high,’ he says.
Put them to the test
When you ask for a market appraisal or valuation of your home, you’ll probably be visited by a senior professional from the agency, but you may never see him or her again during the sales process.
So Alex Lyle, director of London estate agency Antony Roberts, suggests trying a new tactic: ‘Ask a friend or family member to mystery shop the office to get a feel for how good the team is.’
Shortlist the best
Don’t necessarily invite every agent in your area to pitch for your business, but do ask at least three good ones.
They should tell you the good and bad points about your property, explain a marketing strategy and suggest an asking price.
When deciding which three to invite consider checking comparison websites like GetAgent.co.uk or the estate agent comparison tool ea4me.hoa.org.uk operated by the HomeOwners Alliance, a consumer group.
Feel free to ask how the agent operates. Iain McKenzie, chief executive of The Guild of Property Professionals, suggests these: ‘What’s your strategy to obtain best price? What network or associated offices do you work with?
How effective has your marketing been for other homes in the area? How will you keep me fully up to date?’
Check the fees
The average fee is now 1.2 per cent of the sale price plus VAT. For a £500,000 home that’s a fee of £6,000, plus £1,200 VAT, payable when the sale is completed.
There are big regional variations ranging from just 0.75 to 3 per cent plus VAT — agents operating in London and big cities, and those selling the largest properties, typically charge the highest fees.
And check out the agents’ conditions for Sole Agency (where one agent has the exclusive right to sell your home for an agreed period) or Multi Agency (where several agents market your home).
Online vs traditional
Despite bargain basement fees, online agents have never won more than 10 per cent of the market share.
The weakness of some online firms is in chasing through a deal — once an offer is made, a good High Street agent will have staff and time to chase conveyancers, surveyors and mortgage firms plus all the other sellers in a property chain. Most online agents don’t have the resources to do this.
Typically a contract with an estate agent is for 12 or 16 weeks. That’s often plenty of time to find a seller but if you don’t succeed, you can’t move to another agency until the term has expired.