How to Choose an Estate Agent

How To Find the Best Estate Agents to Sell Your House

How to choose an estate agent

Choosing an Estate Agent

choosing an estate agent

Choosing the best estate agent to sell your house can be tricky, with so many different factors to consider. Some will offer you low selling fees or give  you an impressively high property valuation – but these can be misleading. 

Therefore, it’s important to know how to choose an estate agent so you don’t fall for any of their tricks. According to Which, one in six home movers were dissatisfied with the service they received from their estate agent. 

To ensure you pick one of the best estate agents, this guide outlines exactly what you need to do to find a good firm. If you’re thinking of selling your home, go ahead and explore these top tips for how to choose an estate agent, including what an estate agent does, what makes a good estate agent, how to compare estate agents and much more.

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What is an Estate Agent?

what is an estate agent

Let’s start with the obvious – what does an estate agent do? 

In short, estate agents sell and rent out commercial and residential property, acting as negotiators between buyers and sellers. 

However, in reality, there’s a lot more to the role of an estate agent. Here are some of the services you can expect to receive from a good estate agent: 

  • Help you set the value of your home – an estate agent will give you an expert view on how much your house is worth, setting it at the right price to market 
  • Market your home – an estate agent should arrange for your property to be professionally photographed, have a floor plan drawn up and write an accurate description for the brochure, shop window and on the online property portals
  • Manage negotiations – an estate agent should act as a go-between for any potential buyers and the seller of the property
  • Check out the buyer – under the Property Ombudsman Code of Practice, estate agents must make sure the buyer is financially capable of buying the property
  • Keep things moving – an estate agent should make sure the offer moves forward, helping solve any issues along the chain and working to the critical points of exchange and completion

What Makes a Good Estate Agent?

what makes a good estate agent

Selling your house is a huge step to take, so knowing how to choose an estate agent you can trust to get you the best deal is crucial. So, what makes a good estate agent?

There are three main qualities that make a good estate agent: 

  1. A suitable list of potential buyers for your property – a good estate agent will be thinking of potential buyers as soon as they see your property. This is why it’s important to choose an estate agent that sells lots of properties similar to your own.
  2. Proactive – the best estate agents are willing and able to put in the hard work to tell your potential buyers about your property.
  3. Marketing skills – the best estate agents will also be able to give a good sales pitch for your home, coming across as sincere and knowledgeable.

Estate Agent Comparison

A great way of determining which are the best estate agents is to compare them against each other. Here is a list of all the things you should compare when choosing an estate agent: 

  • Valuations – you should compare multiple valuations from different estate agents. However, while this does give some idea of the price you might get for your house, it’s not necessarily the best indicator of which estate agent is best for you.
  • Selling fees – estate agents usually charge a percentage of the final property price as their fee. This cost can vary depending on where you live, the size of your house, market conditions and whether you’re using sole or multiple estate agents. 
  • Property types – estate agents with experience in selling homes similar to yours will know what your potential buyers are looking for. 
  • Reviews – comparing reviews of estate agents is always helpful to get word-of-mouth feedback before committing. 
  • Achieved asking price – seeing whether estate agents have achieved the asking price they’ve set in the past is a good way to judge if they have a tendency to over-value properties.
  • Selling times – if you’re against a deadline and need to move quickly, past selling times could be a good indicator of which are the best estate agents.

How to Choose an Estate Agent to Sell Your House

how to choose an estate agent

Researching Estate Agents 

When choosing an estate agent, it is important that you do your homework, researching each estate agent on your list thoroughly. 

One good way to research an estate agent is to look in your local newspaper or online. 

You should also speak to friends, family members and neighbours to see if they would recommend any local estate agents. 

Once you’ve identified a list of recommended estate agents, be proactive and visit their offices in person. For a true idea of how hard they’d work to sell your property, you could even go undercover and pretend to be a buyer interested in properties like your own. Give each estate agent a rating out of 10 based on how helpful they were. 

Beware of Over-Valuations 

Some estate agents might over-value your property in order to appear more attractive. However, this is a red flag and something you should definitely watch out for. 

Often when a property is priced too high, they end up being heavily reduced later on. This can result in them being sold for less than if they’d been priced properly in the first place, as well as taking a lot longer to sell. 

This is why it is important to look at how close to asking price estate agents tend to get when comparing your options. Don’t just go for the obvious choice of the estate agent who values your house at the highest price.

Should I Use an Online Estate Agent?

online estate agent

Online shopping has never been more popular, but while we’re happy to buy our groceries, clothes and even cars online, there is still some reluctance to go virtual when buying houses. 

A few years ago, online-only estate agents threatened to make high-street agencies a thing of the past. However, today, online estate agents still only account for 5% of the UK property market. 

So, should you use an online estate agent? 

On the surface, online estate agents appear to offer great value – they usually offer a fixed fee, paid upfront, rather than the ‘no sale no fee’ percentage commission charged by high-street agencies. 

Some online agents even offer basic listings completely free of charge, making their money through add-ons such as hosted viewings, professional photography and promoted adverts, as well as from commission on mortgages, removals and other services. 

However, the estate agent fees are just one factor you should consider when weighing up the pros and cons of online estate agents. In addition, you should consider the sales rate, the average time to sell, the percentage of listings that saw price reductions, and the average size of those reductions. 

Overall, online estate agents tend to be better for selling cheaper properties, whereas online sales are rare at the top end of the market. So, if you’re selling a property at the lower end of the property market, it might be worth considering an online estate agent.

Should I Use Multiple Estate Agents?

choosing an estate agent

It may be tempting to think that two (or more) heads are better than one when it comes to selling your house. However, it’s not quite that simple. 

So, what are sole, joint and multiple estate agents? 

  • Sole agents – a single estate agency that has the sole right to sell your property
  • Multiple agents – various agents (three or more) will be competing with each other to sell your property, and only the successful agent will get the commission
  • Joint agents – two or three agents work on a more cooperative basis, often agreeing to share the commission between them 

Here are the factors to consider when choosing between sole, joint or multiple estate agents: 

The Pros & Cons of Using a Single Agent

Pros 

  • Cost – as the agent isn’t competing to sell your house, they’re likely to agree to a lower fee 
  • Simplicity – you don’t need to coordinate viewings from multiple firms, provide several sets of keys, complete multiple checks etc. 

Cons 

  • Fewer potential buyers – you will likely reach fewer potential buyers, and thus wait longer for a sale 
  • You’re stuck with them – if they don’t do a good job, you’re stuck with them for the duration of the agreement and will be liable for the original agent’s fees

The Pros & Cons of Using Multiple Agents 

Pros 

  • Speed – given that multiple estate agents will be competing to secure commission, they will likely work harder and faster to sell your home 
  • More potential buyers – each estate agent will have their own list of applicants which means more potential buyers for your property 

Cons 

  • Cost – multi-agent fees are typically double what a sole agent would charge
  • Hassle – dealing with multiple agents can require a lot more effort and they might pressure you to accept a lower offer

The Pros & Cons of Using Joint Agents 

Pros 

  • High-end properties – a joint agency agreement tends to be used with more high-end properties, such as prime country houses 

Cons 

  • Cost – the fee is likely to be higher than for a sole agent but lower than for multiple agents 

Overall, there is no one-size-fits-all-answer to which is the best type of estate agent to use. Which is the best estate agent for you will all depend on: the uniqueness of the property, the state of the market, and whether you’re in a hurry to sell or willing to wait for longer for the best offer. 

Often, opting for a sole estate agent at the outset is the best option, provided they secure a competitive fee and an exclusivity period that isn’t too long. If an agent is taking a long time to sell your property and has exhausted their contact list, it may be better to start considering multiple agents or a joint agreement.

How to Deal with Estate Agents when Selling

how to choose an estate agent

So, now you know how to choose an estate agent, how should you deal with them when selling your house? 

You should ask your estate agent the following questions to ensure they’re the best one for you: 

  • How much do you charge for sole agency and what is the tie-in period?
  • How much do you charge for multi-agency?
  • How long have you been established and what is your experience?
  • How will my property be advertised?
  • Who will look after viewings?
  • Will the estate agent be present at all viewings?
  • Will they be available during evenings and weekends? 
  • What is your selling fee? 
  • What type of properties do you usually sell? 

So, if you’re thinking of selling your house, hopefully this guide has given you some more insight into how to choose an estate agent. 

This is a crucial decision in the house selling process and could influence how much you sell your house for, how quickly you sell your house and how stressful the process is. Therefore, it is super important that you find the best estate agents to help you get through this hectic period. 

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