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How do I choose the best estate agent?

Finding the best estate agent to sell your property is a matter of doing your research. It is easy to get seduced by low fees and talk of quick sales. Here’s our guide to choosing the best estate agents you can in your local area.

What qualities should I look for in an estate agent?

The best estate agents will be those that are prepared to work hard to get the best price for your property. They will have plenty of buyers on their books, market properties well and know the market. They will be sincere, knowledgeable and polite, and leave you with the impression that they will do everything they can to sell your house.

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Top tips for choosing the best estate agent

Find the agent selling most properties similar to yours

This may seem odd, because you want your house to stand out from the crowd. But choosing an estate agent with many similar properties listed as the one you are selling means that the agent is experienced in selling these types of properties, and should have lots of buyers interested in them. Check they have a branch close to where you live or want to buy.

Ask around for recommendations

Word of mouth is often a good way to find out who are the best estate agents, and who are the ones to avoid. Ask friends and family which local estate agents they have used to sell their property, and if they would recommend them.

Read online reviews

Googling a term like ‘estate agents in [your local area]’ will give you lots of results, and you can read the feedback of previous clients through Google reviews. Don’t just be guided by the average star rating shown for the agent. The number of reviews should be taken into account too. If the average star rating is still high for an agent with a large number of reviews, then that is a sure sign of a good or even the ‘best estate agent’ in the area. 

Check industry credentials

Any credible estate agent will be a member of the Property Ombudsman Scheme. There are also a number of trade bodies with membership open to estate agents, including the Guild of Property Professionals, National Association of Estate Agents and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Trade organisations like these will have a code of conduct for members.

Ask plenty of questions

There is nothing wrong with interrogating estate agents! You need to be confident that you can trust them with the sale of your property. What kind of questions should you ask?

  • How much is the commission charge for sole and multiple agency?
  • What is the tie-in period?
  • How will properties be advertised?
  • Who will be present at viewings, and will these take place at evenings and weekends?

Invite at least three agents to value your property

Three, that’s the magic number … you should shortlist three estate agents to come and conduct a valuation. This will give a more rounded impression of the accurate value of your property, and of the personality of each of the agents. One might give the highest valuation, but you may think another to be more honest and trustworthy.

Choose between sole and multiple agency

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to settle on just one estate agent to market your property. A sole agency agreement is the most popular, and means that one agent alone has an exclusive right to earn commission when your house is sold. Multiple agency is when you instruct more than one agent to sell your house, to maximise your chances of finding a buyer. However, multiple agency is more expensive.

Haggle on fees . . . but don’t let percentage be the only factor

Getting more for your money is always important as a seller, but negotiating a lower commission fee may not mean you are getting the best estate agent you can. Having at least three agents competing for your business will allow you to play one off against the other to a certain extent, and drive down the price of the agent’s fee or the length of the tie-in period, but …

Be wary. An agent who immediately agrees to a reduced fee may be short of business.

Be flexible. Being prepared to pay more could motivate an agent to work harder to sell your house at a better price.

Read the terms of your agreement thoroughly

Make sure you have been through the text of your agreement with your agent. If your instinct about your chosen agent is correct, there shouldn’t be any hidden dangers lurking in the small print, but it’s worth checking in detail.

Check for any hidden extras in the agreement

One of the things you want to look out for in the agreement is the length of the exclusivity or tie-in period. Check there are no additional fees or hidden extras, and that the quoted fee includes VAT.

Monitor your agent’s performance

If your house is not selling, it is time to ask why. Is the estate agent fulfilling on their promises, or letting you down? Some red flags include agents not returning your phone calls, a reduced number of viewings, or being asked to lower the asking price.

Should I use an online estate agent?

People use online estate agents because the fee you pay is generally lower than with a conventional high street agent. However, the fee is usually fixed and non-negotiable, and is charged whether the property is sold or not. Online estate agents will make extra charges for service features such as photography or hosted viewings.

There may also be little flexibility in the legal services available, with sellers having no choice but to accept the services of specific conveyancing companies. Recent research found that only 5% of property sales came via online agents.

Is it a good idea to change estate agents?

The search for the best estate agent might take a while, and yes, you might have to switch. If the once enthusiastic agent is now harder to contact and viewings have dried up, then it is probably time to look around for a new agent.

Choosing the best agent – time to decide

If you have done all your research, asked for recommendations, checked out the online reviews, got your valuations and asked all the right questions, the time has come to choose the best estate agent to sell your house.

Contact your local haart branch for sales advice

Thousands of homeowners have chosen haart as the best estate agent in their local area. Here’s how we can help you sell.