How to choose a commercial property agent to sell or let your commercial property

29 Jun,2018Commercial Agency

How to choose a commercial property agent to sell or let your commercial property

Commercial property agents aren’t hard to find. But finding the right one takes a little more thought.  After all, the competence and input of the agent can make a significant difference to the price you achieve, to the terms of the sale or lease agreed –  and to your stress levels through the process.

So just how do you choose the right agent to help you let or sell your commercial property?

Here are nine questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line.

1.      Is the agency accredited?

Commercial property agencies aren’t regulated, so it’s important to choose one that’s accredited to an industry body. Accreditation demonstrates the agency is committed to professional standards of practice, and gives you somewhere to turn in the event of a dispute. The highest standard of accreditation is that of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).  Other reassuring logos include those of the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA) scheme and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

2.      Does the agent have a local presence in the area?

There are a number of reasons why a local presence can be invaluable.

First, a commercial agent who is on the ground in the local area will usually have a network of local connections. This means they are often able to identify potential buyers/tenants without waiting for marketing efforts to bear fruit.

Second, an agent with a local presence will have a stronger feel for the value of a property than one relying solely on internet information.

Even within a postcode, values can vary significantly for so many reasons – and only someone with first-hand local knowledge will know why. Without local knowledge, a property can very easily be put on the market at too high a price and attract no interest, or at too low a price and achieve less than its true market value.

And third, an agent who knows the area will be able to give useful background information to potential buyers/tenants, particularly if they themselves are from further afield.

3.      How quickly will the agent get your property on the market?

There can be a big variation in the speed at which agents work. Find out how long they typically take to get the sales brochure drawn up, the property listed, and a board erected. If it’s longer than a week, look elsewhere.

4.      How professional is their marketing material?

Ask to see an example of a sales brochure. Does it look professional? Is the wording in the brochure and on website listings well-written, informative and persuasive? How good are the photos – do they show the property at its best, or are they just snapshots taken without any care for what’s in the picture?

And how much information does the company put on for sale/to let boards? Some companies include the key points about the building, which can prove valuable in highlighting the property to passers-by. Others don’t.

Look for an RICS Regulated firm

5.      Who will be handling the work?

In larger commercial property agencies, you’ll often find the most experienced staff on the front line when it comes to bringing in business but rather less involved once the seller/landlord has signed the agency agreement. This can prove frustrating, if you then find yourself (and potential buyers/tenants) dealing with a junior who doesn’t have the expertise you were expecting. Ask who will actually be doing the work.

6.      How enthusiastic is the agent?

If the agent isn’t enthusiastic about your property when talking to you about it, there’s not much hope they will be able to inspire buyers. You don’t want someone who is blind to the property’s faults, as that will lose them credibility with experienced property buyers. But you do want someone who will work hard to help potential buyers/tenants see the positives and the potential of the building.

7.      How does the agent interact with you?

Is the person easy to get on with? Do you feel they are trustworthy? Do they give you confidence they will represent your best interests? For your own peace of mind, it’s important you feel comfortable with the agent you choose as an individual. If they don’t make a good impression on you, can you afford the risk they won’t make a good impression on potential buyers and tenants either?

8.      What approach do they take to valuations?

Some agents will overvalue a property to win the business. Others will undervalue for a quick sale and speedy commission. The best agents will find out from you whether you need a quick sale or whether you are happy to hold out for a bit, and make recommendations accordingly. They’ll then take a pragmatic approach to the offers coming in and advise you in a way that reflects your best interests – bearing in mind, for example, that holding out for the highest possible offer may not be the most profitable approach if the delay costs you more in continued outgoings such as business rates.

9.      Does the agent have relevant qualifications?

Commercial property transactions can be complicated. It’s important that the individual you are working with has the necessary expertise to support you. You’ll want someone who can negotiate knowledgeably, draw up clear Heads of Terms, and liaise effectively with solicitors to keep things moving. If you’re looking to lease, in particular, then sound professional advice is essential to make sure you don’t sign up to unfavourable leasehold terms or terms you don’t fully understand. Whether selling or letting, a qualified professional such as an RICS surveyor is the safest option.


If you’re selling or letting commercial property in Manchester or the North-West, Gifford Dixon can provide all the expertise and support you need for a successful sale/lease agreement.

Find out more about Gifford Dixon’s commercial agency services.

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