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How to Choose an Estate Agent28th September 2017

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How to choose an estate agent - advice from Colin Graham Residential in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland

Making the decision to sell your property can be a big moment. For most people this is the most valuable asset that they will have and it is therefore imperative that you choose the right agent to look after it. If undersold or badly managed it is you that will suffer the financial consequences.

With that in mind it’s worth considering exactly how to choose an estate agent. On the face of it, to the general public, we might all look the same. In reality we’re not. 

We know recommendations via friends and family play a huge part in this decision but we’ve highlighted a few key elements we think you should also consider before making a commitment one way or another.

Market Presence 

A fair sign is market presence, if there are a lot of a particular estate agent’s signs in your area, particularly sold boards, it’s a good marker that they’re doing something right. They will likely have good local knowledge and prospective buyers.

Online Ratings 

Nowadays agents, and any company/service to be fair, have nowhere to hide with regard to customer feedback. Many customers will leave honest feedback on Google and various social media platforms. It’s easy to source and worth investigation.


You need your agent to be transparent and trustworthy. At the end of the day if you don’t trust them how do you expect your prospective buyer to trust them. If you can’t trust an estate agent then it’s really worth taking the time to re-evaluate and reconsider other alternatives out there. 

As a result, transparency is a massive factor that can have a huge bearing on the selling of your home. Pick an estate agent that is 100% upfront and open about their fees, service and valuation. It is easy for an agent to give you an inflated valuation to win your business, to only reduce once you’re on the market. Don’t be afraid to ask for the valuation to be backed up by recent, similar sales in the immediate area, if the agent is good at their job they will build this into their valuation anyway without you having to prompt them.


With regard to fees, it is important to get fair value but please remember that the cheapest is not always the best. Picking an agent that will save you £100 or so on fees could cost you thousands in the long run if your home isn’t marketed effectively. 


Experience counts.

It’s the same in almost every industry and it’s especially true in the estate agent and property world. Experience is a hugely important factor as experienced estate agents understand the lay of the land when it comes to the selling process. Neighboring streets can differ massively in price and particular house types/layouts can achieve a premium… Unless you or your agent are knowledgeable enough to know this you could again undersell or overprice your home, both of which scenarios can be detrimental to the sale and your pocket.

Throughout countless previous deals an experienced estate agent will have learned about the best way to present and market a property, how to manage multiple bids, how to close deals and also how to manage everyone’s expectations. 

Digital Presence

As a society we now live in a digital world. When you think about it, we now walk around with the world at our fingertips via the smartphones in our pockets. This means that we now consume news, sports, entertainment, work, personal relationships and more all online.

You can now include property and house hunting in that list and that’s why it’s absolutely crucial that any estate agent you choose to work with has a strong and pro-active digital presence.

For us this means having a mobile friendly website (meaning anyone can view your listed property on smartphone, tablet or desktop), a strong social media presence (e.g. Facebook) and an active email list, amongst other things. In our first year of business we have already accrued approximately 3,700 followers on our Facebook page, a much stronger following than the bulk of our competitors province wide.

This digital marketplace will only grow and if your agent isn’t on top of it now there is little hope that they ever will be. We strive to keep ahead of it, not chase it.

In addition to our own website and Facebook, we also advertise all of our properties through Property Pal and Property News. It’s a must to be on all four platforms. 


Another key factor, closely linked to a digital presence, is presentation.

Generating interest in a property is one of the estate agent’s chief responsibilities and proper presentation plays an important role in this. How do they present other properties in your area?

We believe proper presentation includes sharp photography, both comprehensive and accurate detail, and professional brochures… We provide this for every one of our sales, regardless of property value.

We use high end camera equipment and quality in-house printing machines. We also offer professional photography packages at a very competitive price. This is rarely requested given the time and effort we put in to ensure that we get the best possible shots. 


As you might already know, the property market can be an incredibly competitive landscape and that means the best estate agents must always be thinking one or two steps ahead of the rest of the pack.

We’re not afraid to invest in local clubs, charities or to spend money on generic marketing campaigns. The effect is twofold, we get the opportunity to give a little back to the community, and it drives more traffic to our website, which as a result presents you with more prospective buyers.

In our first year of business we have already signed up to a lifetime corporate sponsorship deal with Macmillan Cancer Support, contributing a little from each and every sale; agreed a two year sponsorship with a local children’s football team, Carnmoney Football Development Centre; had a billboard advertising campaign; organised a one year roundabout advertising campaign covering both Newtownabbey and Antrim; regular magazine advertising with Newtownabbey In Touch and Tatler Interiors; regular newspaper advertising with Belfast Telegraph and Irish News; organized a Google 360 Tour of our office and organized an advertising wrapped taxi in Ballyclare. 

Our messages are on the streets every day, seven days a week, somehow or another. We don’t plan to change that.

Prime Office Space

A prime office location is also crucial for any estate agent as it offers visibility, market awareness and easy customer access.

That's why we're situated right in the heart of Newtownabbey, strategically located to service North Belfast, Newtownabbey and East Antrim.  

Our office features include a prominent position, modern, contemporary finish throughout, plasma, rotating display to shop window and an internal display of our full range of properties on offer, both new and resale.

We also have a comfortable customer seating area for informal discussions, a large service area with generous amount of staff to help with any queries, an expert in-house independent financial advisor and two separate glass offices for private, confidential meetings.

Finally, we're excited to announce that a first floor boardroom will be coming very soon! 


Last, but most certainly not least, is communication.

If done properly, our job is straight forward. The key to it is communication. At no point are our clients left in the dark - when you have a viewer, you are given feedback; if we can’t get the viewer, you are informed. Simple but important.

Once you are sale agreed it doesn’t stop there; we have dedicated staff to take your sale through to completion, keeping in touch with you, your purchaser, solicitors, banks, financial advisors and other estate agents linked to the chain should there be any. This process helps streamline the service to ensure that it is efficient and most importantly, as stress free as possible.

How to choose an estate agent - advice from Colin Graham Residential in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland