YOU want to sell your house? What could be simpler? You put a 'For Sale' board in the front garden, a quick advert in the local paper, job done!
But if you want to sell your house for the maximum return – that's a different story.
The first question is, do you really want or need to sell, or will you only sell if the price is right? And what is the right price?
Is it what a neighbour's house sold for three years ago, or the price being asked for a new but smaller property down the road, or is it what Fred in the pub said it was worth?
Chances are it's none of the above, and the only way to really know is to call a professional.
Now the stories about estate agents are legend, so how do you select an estate agent valuer to help you agree a fair price for your property?
If you're serious about selling, they are four key points to consider:
Look at the agents who cover your area and note how long their 'For Sale' boards are sat on properties.
Chances are, the ones collecting moss or falling over have been there so long because the agent has overvalued, so their properties do not sell well, if at all.
Newspaper adverts, although very useful, do not give you a complete measure of activity. Most homebuyers now begin their search on-line, so check whether your prospective agent is present on the most popular sites such as FindaProperty.com
Can your agent offer your property for sale in a variety of ways – traditional sale or auction for instance?
And finally – has your agent's staff got the years of experience and backroom support to complete a good sale?
So, having narrowed down your choice to, say, two agents, what next?
Make sure your instructions as to what is included in the sale are clear and that each agent is given the same information.
Include such factors as time scales – when do you want to move, have you already selected another property, is your desire to move such that you can be flexible on price?
This information will help the valuer to come up with the best package to suit you – not them but you.
You are the client and it is your wishes that count. Be prepared to ask for references.
Good agents are anxious to sell your property. Be prepared to pay a small listing fee – this will cover the agent's costs for preparing a brochure and preliminary advertising, but realistically the fee should not be more than £200-£300.
However, there is a trade-off for you and a safety escape.
Do not accept any contract that locks you in for longer than three months or has a cancellation fee.
Agents promoting such contracts are not selling houses but simply listing properties for sale.
Your valuation should be justified by reference to local factors, so do not be surprised if the valuer has a ball-park figure on their first visit;.
A good agent, given notice, will have done their homework.
And be realistic in your expectations – the market is volatile, and consider all the factors – how quickly do you really want to move?
And the property you are buying is selling in the same market – can that vendor be more flexible?
So just how will the selected agent sell your property? Beware if they say the choice is yours – they are there to advise you, based on their experience.
The best way to secure maximum value for most residential homes is the traditional office sale, not at auction.
Auction properties are a special case. However, your property just may be special and unique, and sealed bids, informal tender or auction may be the best sales avenue.
And we'll look at alternative types of auction in the next two articles.