How to choose your real estate agent?
There is no lack of real estate agencies in Luxembourg. On atHome, a leading real estate portal, 640 agencies are listed! Independent agents, affiliated brokers, agency networks, newcomers... with such a wide variety of choice, how can you make sure you pick the right one? We might not be able to tell you which one to go for, however we can give you some recommendations to make an informed choice.
Considering the money at play, choosing the right agent is imperative. Although there are no magic solutions, some points should draw your attention and will allow you to determine if the agency you are considering is serious and meets your needs. Before going through the list, here is a small reminder of the usual process before choosing your agent.
How does the process take place?
Before signing the “mandat de vente” (sale mandate), the process is usually very much alike.
- You contact one or multiple agents. Even if the first agent made a very good first impression, we recommend that you contact at least a second one, possibly even more.
- You find out how each agent works and how he is going to organize the sale and promotion of your property. You can also discuss the specifics of the contract.
- The agencies you contacted will send you an agent that will value your property. They will come back to you with a market valuation, as well as a listing price proposal. Here, we recommend you do some quick research, for example using l’Observatoire de l’Habitat, to make sure the proposed price is close to the statistics of your neighbourhood. We will come back to this later on.
- You choose the agent that suits your needs, but not before reading the whole article!
Do not be pressured into signing, and never sign a sale mandate during the first meeting. Take your time, and compare the different propositions you will receive. Don’t take this decision lightly: your property is usually the main element of your capital, and the agent, as well as the agency he belongs to, will represent your property. Make sure it is in capable hands.
Selling at the right price!
Listing your property at the right price is essential. Too low, and you risk a shortfall on your sale. Too high, and your property might not generate sufficient interest. A property that is listed for too long will suffer a serious loss of credibility from potential buyers, especially in a high demand market. This will inevitably result in a longer sale, and your other projects will be delayed, and maybe even compromised.
How can you be sure that the value given by your agent is the right one? Here are a few solutions:
- Value your property online. Even if this does not substitute a physical valuation, the objective criteria will allow you to have a good initial idea about your property’s value.
- Wander around the surrounding neighbourhood, identify similar property and find out the asking price. This isn’t a truly reliable method, but it will give you a useful impression when you will have to compare the different valuations you received.
- Confront several physical valuations. Generally, this service is free so do not hesitate to call several different agencies. Don’t be seduced by the highest offer, but rather go for the one that seems the most in line with your own research. Some agents overvalue property in order to get sellers to sign a mandate that will often be inconclusive.
How to make sure my agent is professional?
Having a professional agent and agency is key. This person will represent your property for the whole sale process. Other than your first impression, you should also look at his sales record. A good agent should be able to manage multiple mandates, but too many open sales will also mean less implication on your property.
Analyse the quality of his/her previous listings. Is the information comprehensive, along with professional photos and floorplans? The agent’s professionalism can be observed through the work he has done in the past, and is therefore a good indicator of your future listing’s quality.
When possible, ask your friends or family if they have had good (or bad) experiences with agencies or agents. Reviews on different platforms can also give you a general idea of the agency’s professionalism. Also, prepare a list of questions you want to ask your agent. Here are a few ideas:
- Is the agent a member of the CIGDL (chamber of real estate)
- Will your listing be posted on different portals? Which ones?
- Will your listing be boosted using ads or paid formats on said portals?
- Does the agent have a list of potential buyers or a mailing list?
- What is the sale strategy? Is there a planned sale calendar?
- Does the agent know the neighbourhood or surrounding area? What are the property strengths that he is going to bring forward?
What will my fees be?
The regular commission in Luxembourg is 3%, and is paid by the seller and not the buyer. This commission rate is similar to our Belgian neighbours, but is much lower than the rates in France or Germany (usually between 5 or 6%).
If a fixed percentage is the most widespread commission method, some agencies innovate on this subject. Variable commission indexed on the sale result, fixed commission, fixed price per individual service etc. Everything is possible, and you should never take “that’s just the way it is!” as an answer. Don’t demand too much though, as the consequence may be that you would receive subpar service.
Exclusive mandate or not?
Whatever the selected agent, it is preferable to sign an exclusive mandate. With non-exclusivity, your property may well be listed multiple times, with different prices, and no agent will have an overall view on all the potential buyers. Exclusivity allows the agent to control the whole process, and to organise the visits in a way to maximise the sale of your property, and generate competition between multiple buyers.
We often wrongly think that non-exclusive mandates pressure the selected agents to surpass themselves. On a market as dynamic as Luxembourg, the effect is often the opposite: your agent will focus on his exclusive mandates where he is certain of his investment, rather than risk working at a loss.
Feel free to negotiate the length of the mandate. There is no obligation to stay with the same agent over the whole sale period. Negotiating a limited mandate duration can allow you to test the professionalism of your agent. You can always extend this period if satisfied, for example if the sale is taking longer than expected but are happy about the professionalism and engagement of your agent.
With this advice, we are certain that you will find the perfect agent for you. Good luck, and good sale!