Which Report – How to find the best estate agent

We are fans of the Which? consumer magazine

So when we saw the Which? report “Choosing the best estate agent” and realised Hastings Legal not only pass with flying colours, but we offer some added extras as well we felt we just had to let you know.

The Which? article gives useful advice on how to select the estate agent who has the best chance of getting the best price for your property, and it’s not necessarily the one who gives you the highest valuation of your property! The report explains why. There is also a two minute video that features tips from Which?

Here are some of the points raised by Which? where we feel our service matches or surpasses their recommendations. Please note that the Which report is slanted towards the English market which is different in several ways to how it works in Scotland.

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution”Aristotle
See the full Which? report
Click the sections below to open

Which say:

First off check if your agent is part of a professional body as this means they’re bound to a code of conduct and will be qualified.

Hastings Legal say:

As Solicitor Estate Agents based in Scotland

Hastings Legal are regulated both in terms of conduct by their Professional body and the rules and guidance issued by The Law Society of Scotland. In relation to other issues, in particular the need to provide a professional service to clients,  we are regulated by the fiercely independant and consumer friendly Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC).

On the letting side

our rental division Borders Country Lets is a member of the Council of Letting Agents and we are registered letting agents with the Local Authority Scottish Borders Council.

Solicitor Property Centres

Hastings Legal is a member firm of the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC) and the Borders Solicitors Property Centre (BSPC).

Ron Hastings is a qualified Solicitor

and sits on the Executive of BSPC.

Head of property Suzanne Smith

is an Associate Member of The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Using local Estate Agents who are also solicitors

gives you some major advantages over ordinary estate agents.

As well as marketing your property for sale we can, if you wish, take care of the legals too.

Whether you use our Integrated Property and Legals service or our Estate Agency Only service we strive to make the process of selling your property as stress-free and straight-forward as possible.

Which say:

A good agent will visit your house to give a free valuation but a great agent would go further and be able to justify this valuation using examples of similar properties they’ve recently sold. Don’t be mislead by optimistic price promises if the agent hasn’t sold many properties like yours before.

Hastings Legal say:

We provide free marketing appraisals and valuations to potential clients.

When we meet you on the property visit we will discuss, among other things, how your property compares with others sold recently. We can suggest what steps to take to make maximum impact and improve the sale prospects.

Which say:

A great agent will also be able to pick out and confidently describe the major selling points of the property. If they can’t convince you your home is brilliant, how will they be able to persuade potential buyers? Make sure you ask where your property will be advertised and look out how they promote similar properties to yours.

Hastings Legal say:

We will provide a written appraisal highlighting the key selling points and go further by mentioning areas for improvement and advise on a marketing plan and timescale.

We will explain fully where the property would be advertised and how to improve the initial impact by preparing for sale with helpful presentation advice. We can arrange professional photography as well as aerial photographs where appropriate.

Hastings Legal love houses

as you can probably tell from this website!

See our section of style articles for ideas.

Which say:

A good agent will agree to put your property in pride of place in their shop window, while a great one but also advertise it in local newspapers and online. A good agent will say he can attract buyers but a great agent will already have a list of buyers that fit the sort of buyers most likely to be interested in your property and they’ll be able to vet serious buyers and avoid the time wasters.

Hastings Legal say:

We have High Street offices

in Kelso, Selkirk and Duns with modern well lit window displays.  We also have properties displayed in Galashiels and Edinburgh .

We use the national leading portals

such as Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location, as you would expect.

Scotland differs from England (because in Scotland solicitors also sell houses)

so the Solicitors Property Centres  are a dominant marketing force you probably won’t want to miss out on.

Hastings Legal have a major presence in the ESPC (Edinburgh), both at their George Street premises and the website so if your property is Edinburgh commutable by road or rail you will glad to know it will be seen there.

All our properties appear in the BSPC (Borders SPC) website and fortnightly colour newspaper available locally.

Your property will also appear on the SSPC (Scottish SPC) portal which covers the whole of Scotland.

We have an extensive database of buyers looking to buy similar property to yours.

Our state of the art property matching systems to help track hot prospects  to ensure we don’t miss a potential sale.

We are proud of our dedicated in-house hotline

which is available 7 days a week until 10pm helping arrange viewings that would otherwise be missed.

Which say:

The fee an estate agent charges is an important factor, but ultimately we suggest choosing the agent you feel most comfortable dealing with, and are most confident in the ability to sell your house for a high price. Choosing an estate agent to sell your house quickly and for the best price can be complicated. Some will offer you low fees or give an impressively high property valuation, but these can be red flags.

Hastings Legal say:

Most sellers are savvy enough to realise that at the end of the day an unrealistically high valuation won’t help them sell and could damage their prospects as it chases away potential buyers.

While some agents may use high valuations to attract sellers to go with them on the strength of their fools gold valuation it will often end in tears and waste the all important initial impact of the first few weeks on market.

Hastings Legal have vast experience of selling in The Borders.

As locally based agents and also solicitors who act for buyers bidding on property we keep a close eye on the local market. Our appraisals are genuine and based on experience. We don’t just rely on information from remote desk top predictions based on bare sales data that apply general increases that take no account of the condition of property or local conditions.

Independent home report valuations

In Scotland most sellers will also need a Home Report which contains a RICS surveyor’s valuation and condition report. This is independent of the seller and the selling agent and the surveyor requires to be satisfied that the valuation stated in the Home Report is a reasonable and accurate opinion of the current market value.

Home Reports don’t come cheap and no seller wants to be told the value of their property is less than the selling agents have indicated so it serves as a quick reality check. However the theoretical value is a very different beast from an actual sale and this is where we give additional value with advice on presentation and with marketing to help your property stand out from the crowd.

We stay focused on your best interests

Unlike some agents, our property team don’t compete for commission so they all pull together. We are mindful that we are always working for you, the seller, to ensure that you get the best possible deal.

Also, Some agents try get your business by offering a cut price deal. However, on closer examination you will see they offer a cut price service which can end up losing you much more than you save in reduced costs.

Our price pledge

Hastings Legal don’t claim to be the cheapest. We charge a reasonable rate reflecting our extra efforts and we justify this with our results.