Selling Your Home: Finding The Right Estate Agent

Estate agent Owen Reilly gives his tips on getting the best valuation when selling your home.

If you are selling up your property to move to another, one of the first questions you will ask is: how much is my house worth? This is where the estate agent comes in.

Valuing a residential property, unlike commercial property, "is an art, not a science," according to Dublin estate agent Owen Reilly.

"When putting a value on a property, an estate agent will use a number of methods. There’s the comparative method where you look at comparative sales on the street or in the area; you can analyse a property by square foot and calculate a sales price or you can calculate the valuation on a yield basis. With those three methods combined, the valuer should be able to arrive at an accurate evaluation," he says.

Home owners will always have their own thoughts about what their house is worth but Reilly warns that an asking price must be logical. He advises sellers to research what houses on their street or in their area sell for. Ultimately, though a property is only worth what people are willing to pay for it, says Reilly.

"Probably the most important factor in a valuation is that it is at a level at which you can generate interest for viewings but it must also be a price that the vendor will accept. I will never recommend having a lower asking price to generate interest if the vendor ultimately won’t accept that price. Buyers have to be treated with respect too."

There is also a certain amount of psychology involved in pricing a house. Reilly says if a property is worth in the region of €700,000, he would put it on the market at €695,000 to drum up interest and widen the search base.

It is the agent’s role to devise a strategy to sell the house so they should be able to answer any questions that the buyer may have.

"That means the vendor should try to make certain pieces of information available to the estate agent such as when work was carried out on the property, what planning permission is on the house and the age of the house. A bit of history is always good."

Valuers should have a good idea of the interior finishes in a house, the difference between a branded kitchen and an unbranded kitchen and the value of extensions and other renovations carried out on the property, for example.

When it comes to choosing an estate agent, Reilly recommends getting a minimum of two opinions.

"I would strongly recommend that no vendor appoint an agent based solely on their valuation. You want an agent who will keep you informed, will be professional, who won’t switch off once the property is on the market. You don’t want an agent who has too many listings on their books, and if you are dealing with a large firm you should make sure you know which agent will be looking after you. Fees are obviously a big point of discussion with vendors but if you look at Irish estate agents there generally isn’t a massive difference of more than 1% so your appointment of an agent should come down to the service they will offer."

This article was first published in The Sunday Times in partnership with Bank of Ireland. Publication of this article is not seen as an endorsement of the content by Bank of Ireland.