DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL LONDON ESTATE AGENT KAY & CO

Q.I would like to put my flat on the market but I’m concerned that now might not be the best time given the current economic climate. What do you advise?

A.In recent months, buyers have become more cautious and there has been a lack of urgency to buy. That said, the market is far from dead. There is still strong demand from both domestic UK buyers and overseas purchasers who, despite the economic uncertainty, still view London as a safe haven for their surplus cash. They see London property as a great way to make a long-term investment and to capitalise on the weak pound. The key to getting a good sale is to price your property correctly. Many agents are overpricing homes. This is a mistake because prices have now reached a plateau. Both domestic and international buyers are well educated enough to know not pay a large premium for anything but prime properties.

Q.How much commission should I expect to pay an agent?

A.This is always a controversial subject, most reputable agents will charge anywhere between 2 and 3 per cent plus VAT to sell your home. That said, others will charge as little as half a percent. As an agent, I believe that you need to be given an incentive to do the best job possible for your client and we always have a minimum fee level below which we simply do not go. By all means negotiate with your agent, but the question I ask clients is: “If an agent can’t negotiate a decent fee level for themselves then what hope do they have of negotiating the ‘best’ price for you when it comes to finding a buyer?” The negotiating skill of an agent can make a difference of hundreds of thousands of pounds to a seller, which more than outweighs a percentage point here or there. You generally get what you pay for.