You put your house on the market, but the estate agent is the one who actually sells it. Choosing the right agent is a critical decision – it can make the difference between getting a really good price, and not selling your house at all. But how do you tell the difference between good agents and bad ones?
Remember: the agent works for you
As the seller, you choose the estate agent, and the agent works for you. But the decision to accept an offer remains with you. As the seller, you are usually in a strong position with estate agents – unless they have properties to sell on their books, they won’t make any commission.
Choosing a sole or multiple agent
You have to decide whether you are going for one, two or more agents. See how many estate agents should I use? Clearly, if you are going for a multiple agency agreement, then you can just put your property on with any agent you like, and you don’t really have to chose between them.
The following advice applies if you are going for a sole or joint sole agreement:
Select a shortlist of estate agents
· Ask family, friends, and neighbours – it’s always good to have a personal recommendation
· Compare local estate agents based on the facts: how quickly they sell, how close they come to achieving asking price and how successful they are. Our free, impartial tool is constantly updated and gives instant results for the estate agents in your area – .
· If yours is a particularly unusual or expensive property, you might want to choose a national estate agent who specialises in homes like yours
· Make sure the agent has experience of selling property like yours – and the best way to do that is to check there are properties similar to yours in the window. There’s no point using Strutt & Parker, which sells large country houses, if you have a central Manchester flat.
· Look at the properties that agent sells on Zoopla and Rightmove – are the pictures well taken, and the descriptions clear and relevant?
· The “sold” boards outside properties are good indicators of which agents are doing well
· A good agent will invest in marketing to ensure they get the best price
· Do not feel pressured to hire the estate agent you bought your house from. Obviously, if you were impressed by how they sold your house to you, you might decide to go with them again
· What is their viewing policy – check they will accompany potential buyers when you are out. Do they phone and send around potential buyers straight away?
· What are their standard terms & conditions — what is their standard commission rate and typical tie in period before you can break the contract if you are unhappy with them?
· Narrow your choices down to a shortlist of about three and invite them to do a valuation
Find out how good they are
· How quickly do they sell homes on their books? What’s their track record with achieving asking price? How likely are they to sell a home? You can find estate agents in your local area and see instantly how they perform in these areas.
· After they value your property ask them to explain their reasoning
· Do they have any estate agency or sales qualifications?
· Are they members of a professional trade association, such as the National Association of Estate Agents, or the Guild of Professional Estate Agents?
· Are they members of an accredited independent ombudsman service? Either the Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services: Property or the Property Redress Scheme
· Can more than one person in the office talk enthusiastically and with knowledge about your property?
· What would they do if your property was not selling as well as expected? What do you think about their answer?
· Are they open at weekends? A surprising number of agents only work during the week, and perhaps do half day on Saturday, which means they are less accessible to potential buyers
Don’t be fooled by the valuations they give
Agents know that one of the main reasons people pick them is the valuation they give. They take two general approaches:
· Some agents give deliberately optimistic valuations, to make you think you can get a higher price with them, and then try and talk you down after you have chosen them
· Some agents insist they are giving a realistic price, and tell you not to be fooled by falsely high valuations
Do your research on how to value your home. The agent will come armed with evidence of local sold prices to support their valuation. While you should take their advice, it is you and not the agent who decides what price to put the property on at. We’ve put together the best questions to ask the estate agent. Contact us for more information.
A good place to start is with our free instant valuation tool.