“Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house, not a computer was whirring, not even a mouse.”

In Christmases past, every agent would tell you there was no point putting your property on the market just before Christmas, as no-one would be house-hunting over the festive period.

Wind forward to today, however, and with some 90% of house-hunters now beginning their search on-line, and folk leading ever-busier lives, the Christmas holidays are a rare opportunity to contemplate a move, and with tablets, ‘phones and home PC’s, it has never been easier to make the search.

For many, Christmas amplifies all the shortcomings of their current home. Whether it’s finding space to accommodate visiting relatives, store the children’s new presents, or escape Boxing Day charades, the festive period often spurs owners to start that new home search. It is also when families have the best chance to come together and talk. The impending New Year brings resolutions and a chance to start over, to re-fresh and move forward, so what better time to grasp the nettle and make that move?

But with so many agents to choose from, both real and virtual, how do you decide which one is best to sell your property? If you’ve already started looking around, then how did you do it? Chances are it was on-line, and we know the vast majority of folk do the same – so whichever agent you choose, you need to be sure they are represented on all the principal property portals. Rightmove still receives by far the largest number of on-line visits (20 million per month), but for the estate agent it is also the most expensive. Zoopla/Primelocation and recently-floated On-The-Market lie in second and third places respectively with 14.75m and 7.5m (Dealmakerz May ’18) but OTM is making impressive gains – visits tripled between December and April of this year. Because it costs agents to advertise, many are represented on only one or two sites, so do be sure you know where your property will be marketed.

There is much talk about virtual or on-line estate agents, but there are important differences to be aware of. Traditional estate agents maintain a database of buyers actively looking for property in their area, but on-line agents generally do not. They advertise your property on the web, but their role is passive/reactive – reliant on prospective buyers contacting them. On-line agents generally charge an up-front fixed fee. Whilst these are often lower than traditional fees based on a percentage of price achieved, they are frequently payable whether or not a sale results. On-line agents usually operate under a franchise arrangement, so the quality of the service will vary from area to area, dependent on the dedication and ability of the franchisee, and remember if you are only being charged a small sum of money, that franchisee has got to spread him or herself pretty thinly to have any chance of earning a living. True, their overheads are limited – they have no physical premises, often working from their spare bedroom or the front seat of their car, but they have only limited back-up – so they can be difficult to get a hold of.

If you are confident in your own ability to meet prospective buyers and conduct viewings personally, then on-line agency can work for you – but remember that for every householder who finds the prospect of showing complete strangers around their house uncomfortable, there will be as many potential bidders feeling exactly the same way.

Should you receive an acceptable offer and a deal results, ‘High Street’ agents will liaise with both sides’ solicitors to progress matters through to completion, to an agreed timescale, and deal with issues as they arise. Only this week, clients of Quay selling a property for the first time since construction were horrified to discover they had never had title to their own front pathway! Liaison with Land Registry, and a face-to-face meeting between our surveyor and the immediate neighbour successfully rectified the matter, but it goes to prove that even the simplest-looking sale can throw up the odd curved ball – and it needs a professional to resolve it.

Critics of estate agents often claim that the industry is essentially unregulated, making it all the more important for the professional firms amongst us to prove that professionalism. Quay is Regulated by RICS, as well as being ARLA and NAEA members. Our clients know that their money is protected, and we have a reputation to protect.

Quay Living’s offices in the heart of Poole Old Town are open 7 days a week to prospective buyers, and of course our clients. Our ‘phone lines are open until 10pm every day, including Sundays, and they are only answered by our own staff, not remote third-parties. With over 40’ of frontage, our high-profile offices are highly visible to Poole visitors and easily found by car or on-foot.

Whether you are pre-Christmas shopping or walking-off the post-Christmas excesses, do pop-in to say hello. If you are contemplating a move, we would be most happy to help.