Why Cutting Corners in Estate Agency Will Cost You More in 2024

The true cost of a "cheap" estate agent in Edinburgh and the Lothians in 2024

A few years ago, we sold a property for a client in just 48 hours and bought his next home for him. He was delighted. Easy, he thought. So, a couple of years down the line and having decided to move house again, he thought he’d just do it himself:

  • He arranged the cheapest Home Report he could find, which was subpar.
  • He took photos on his phone (with no professional property photography experience), resulting in poor quality photos.
  • He wrote a little description of his property, which was not crafted by an expert.
  • He picked an asking price higher than the Home Report value, therefore adopting an incorrect pricing strategy.
  • He paid hundreds of pounds to an online listing agent to have his property advertised on Rightmove with limited exposure.
  • He waited for the phone to ring…
  • Spoiler alert: It didn’t.

After longer than a month on the market, hundreds of pounds out of pocket and with nothing to show for it – no viewers and no hope of progressing towards a sale, he gave us a call. We’ll admit we were not surprised that it had not sold. We hope that this information will help you to make your own informed decision when it comes to selling.

This blog will detail what we did to rectify the situation for our client, to ensure a successful sale, achieving the best possible price in the fastest possible timescales, with Neilsons’ bespoke marketing strategy. 

The Importance of a Quality Home Report

Firstly, we examined the Home Report.

It had been prepared by a company that is not on the panel of any mortgage lenders and we were able to spot this instantly, so if he had sold it, a whole new valuation would have had to be arranged.

A good quality Home Report from a reputable firm of surveyors who are on the panel of every major mortgage lender is a non-negotiable for us at Neilsons.

Not all Home Reports are created equal!

We use Graham & Sibbald surveyors for their expert team with local knowledge, their strong, Scotland-wide reputation and because they are on the panel of every major mortgage lender, so there’s little risk that the value could be wrong or called in to question by the buyers’ lender.

A good relationship between agent and surveyor is important. There is no exact science to property valuation and two heads are better than one when determining that the valuation is accurate and appropriate for the market conditions.

Whilst the final decision on value rests on the shoulders of the surveyor, appropriate input and comparable sales from a Neilsons valuer with local knowledge is essential for getting the pricing strategy correct and therefore the whole transaction off on the right foot.

The Power of Professional Photography and Marketing Material

We reviewed the photographs.

They were low quality, poorly lit and off centre. Nothing about them made us want to look at the property more, or arrange a viewing.

At Neilsons, we use professional photographers Planography and its arguably the single most important thing to get right about your sale from a marketing perspective.

Eye-catching, professional photography is key to getting your property spotted online. The majority of buyers now start their search for a home on a mobile phone, scrolling through small thumbnail images. They need to be eye-catching, stop the buyers from scrolling and encourage them to see more!

Bear in mind that a property is likely to be the most expensive purchase a person ever makes, giving it a premium marketing package is only appropriate when expecting them to part with their hard-earned cash. They’re worth it, and so is your property.

Writing an Effective Property Description

Next up, we reviewed the description and marketing points.

We’ll be honest, buyers aren’t so fussed about reading paragraphs of prose waxing lyrical about the carpets and provision of power points these days like they were in the 90s!

They want a good selection of quality photographs, a detailed floorplan with accurate measurements on it and a virtual tour. However, the writing is still vitally important, and it must be accurate and written by a professional.

Trading Standards reviewed their policy for the sale of property in 2023 and brought in updates to the material information that must be disclosed in the advert for a property, whether that’s written by an agent or the home seller themselves.

They must not misrepresent the property or make false statements about it and by law it must state certain information such as the Council Tax band, EPC rating, tenure, factor charges, mobile phone signal strength, broadband speed, etc.

We’re lucky that in Scotland we’re ahead of the curve with the information we provide in the Home Report but be assured that Trading Standards intend to crack down on property advertising and if you or your agent aren’t up to date with the required information you could expose yourself to hefty fines.

At Neilsons, our professionally designed mobile-friendly portrait brochures highlight all the necessary aspects of your property and the location, enabling us to sell the lifestyle as well as the bricks and mortar, all whilst staying on the right side of Trading Standards and the law!

So far in 2024, our brochures have been downloaded and viewed over 40,000 times by buyers online, and our virtual tours have been viewed over 60,000!

Setting the Right Asking Price

Now, asking prices – ooft, what a minefield!

If a property price is not pitched correctly, quite simply, the buyers won’t find it listed online because it won’t fall within the category they’re searching for. Buyers often make huge assumptions about what a property will sell for based on the pricing strategy, and if your price doesn’t send the right signals to the buyers, they simply won’t come through the door for a viewing. The key to any successful sale is buyers entering the property and making an emotional attachment with it – imagining themselves living there. Buying a property is often an emotional, not a rational decision.

That’s what sends them back to the mortgage broker, back to the bank of Mum and Dad, back down the back of the sofa even, scraping what money they can together to make you the best possible offer.

If the price doesn’t get them through the door to make that attachment, you miss creating competition for the property and the opportunity to have a closing date with a selection of buyers who all feel that way bidding against each other.

It can feel like a gamble or counterintuitive to pitch the price for the property lower than what you know you’d be happy to accept, but you have to trust in the process and get your property exposed to the market.

At Neilsons, because we’re Solicitors and Estate Agents, both buying and selling property for our clients, we have our fingers firmly on the pulse of the market and we know what buyers are expecting to have to pay for properties. That up-to-date knowledge, combined with years of experience in our local market helps us accurately pitch prices for optimum market exposure. In short, we know what your buyers are thinking and there’s a lot of psychology involved.

Maximising Open Market Property Exposure

Now that you’ve got that professional marketing package and accurate value in place, the next thing is where to put it all!

Whilst “online” feels like the obvious answer, ask yourself if that is enough?

When making a huge financial commitment, do you just trust the information on the internet whatever the source?

Would you buy from an agent you’ve never heard of?

Trust an agent that’s constantly featured in the press for their shady practices?

Buy from someone who only has decent reviews on paid-for review sites?

Or would you look to trusted and regulated agents adhering to standards set by a professional body like the Law Society of Scotland, advertising through respected and well-known local institutions like the ESPC, vast online exposure across all the major portals like Rightmove, OnTheMarket and Zoopla, an extremely strong presence across all major social media channels and with over a thousand 5 star reviews across all of our branches on Google and Facebook.

If you put your buyers hat on, I’m sure you’d favour the latter and that’s what you and your buyers get with Neilsons. Trusted, reputable, longstanding solicitor estate agents, deserving of your buyer’s attention and their hard-earned cash.

The Value of Professional Negotiation Expertise

Flinging an ad online isn’t enough either, a great agent knows how to generate interest from a buyers database, keep the online presence of your property active, provide useful tools like a For Sale board, social media exposure, advertise in local offices for that captivating high street presence, offer a client portal where you can track the interest in your property, has a large property services team to book in viewings in a timely manner to capture the buyers interest at its height and quickly.

A great agent like Neilsons will also follow up on those viewings effectively by asking the right questions to get meaningful feedback and be able to advise you what to do about it if there is something putting buyers off.

You could follow up on your own viewings, but will buyers be truthful directly with you if there’s something they found off-putting? Most people are too polite!

Our professional negotiators at Neilsons have over 100 years of combined experience selling property, they’re perfectly placed to keep your sale on track, advise on the quality of a note of interest, recommend the optimal time to set a closing date, negotiate on an offer, get the best out of an offer and negotiate a timescale that works for everyone moving forwards.

Their knowledge is invaluable when getting a sale right, between them they’ve seen every possible nuance of a property transaction, and you can’t underestimate the importance of having them there to guide you.

Ultimately, it’s 100% your decision who you sell your property to, but we’re here to make sure that decision is as well informed as it can possibly be. It’s not something an online agent, cheap agent, or listings portal can do for you.

Case Study: Success with Neilsons!

…And that’s what we did for our client. And all’s well that ends well, we worked our magic for him a second time at Neilsons and after all those wasted weeks, he sold with us in 48 hours, once again. Ta da!

He says he’s never trying to move without us again.

Avoid the Hidden Costs of “Cheap” Estate Agents

There are numerous examples we could give you of transactions we’ve had to rescue from “cheap” agents.

Just this week we’ve sold yet another property at a closing date, notably higher than the Home Report value with 5 notes of interest that had languished on the market going nowhere with a certain ‘free’ purple agent for over a month.

Sadly, not all sales can be rescued, some proceed with their cheap agent, in one example selling for significantly less than a virtually identical property at the same time on the same street.

The true cost of using an online agent in that instance? An eye watering £71,250.

If you’re thinking of selling your property, which is likely to be your biggest asset, then you really ought to call in the professionals. We’re here to help at Neilsons.

If you sell with us, not only do you benefit from our expertise and large, experienced team but you will also benefit from our excellent sale promotion: nothing to pay upfront and a free marketing pack saving up to £599, including FREE professional photography.

Give us a call today on 0131 625 2222 to find out how we can help you, or book a free, no obligation appraisal at your property with us today.

Book a free appointment with our team today!

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