WITH property prices being so different on a regional basis, never before has it been as important to secure the help of local property experts before you make your decision to move – or indeed to stay put, writes property market analyst and commentator Kate Faulkner.

With the supply of properties for sale being less than 50 per cent of pre-credit crunch levels, all agents are doing what they can to secure properties for sale – at a fair price.

If they do get a bite from a buyer, they have to deal with the huge number of spanners that mortgage lenders are throwing into the works, coupled with nervous buyers and sellers. So just holding a chain together is increasingly difficult and an increasing skill required by property professionals.

What this means for both buyers and sellers is that expert local knowledge is key.

Many estate agents are starting to appreciate that they need to invest time and money in explaining to their local market what’s happening in the area.

It’s these kind of agents, the ones you can pop in and have a chat to about your circumstances and your property without a hard sell, that you should be looking to work with.

A ideal estate agent will ensure that they: n Provide independent information and back it up with figures about what’s happening in your local market. For example, are prices are going up, down or staying the same? Is the time to sell above or below average in the area, and is the number of buyers growing versus the number of sellers?

n Show you comparisons of similar properties they have sold to yours. Or if you are buying, they will have an idea of properties that may be coming on to the market in the future.

n Explain the pros and cons of buying different types of properties. For example, old properties may require more maintenance, while new properties are typically better energy efficiency wise.

n Will give timely and genuine feedback about viewings and may even have an on-line system which gives you instant access to feedback at any time of the day or night.

n Will work hard to progress the sale to completion on your behalf once an offer has been made.