Knowing how to choose an estate agent is essential when it comes to trying to sell your home.
It’s not simply a case of going with the cheapest agent. You’ll need to be sure that the agent you choose is capable of selling your property quickly, and at the highest possible price.
So, when shortlisting estate agents to sell your home, it’s worth following a few guidelines.
In this guide, we are going to set out some clear rules on how to choose an estate agent so you can pick the right one for you and your home.
Your First Decision – Online Or High Street?
As recently as 10 years ago, this wasn’t even a question that needed to be asked. But, since the advent of online estate agents, it’s something every seller now has to consider.
Do you play it safe and go for one of the usual high street estate agents? Or, do you try and save yourself some money and try one of the new online estate agents?
There are pros and cons to both. High street agents offer you familiarity, local knowledge, and a physical office you can walk into and speak to a real person face to face. The downside is this comes with a hefty fee.
Online agents, on the other hand, offer you lower costs, more control over how your property is sold, and longer opening hours.
The downside is you’ll deal mostly with the agent over the phone and some charge you even if your property doesn’t sell.
If in doubt, get valuations done by both online and high street estate agents and then decide which is best for you once you’ve met them both.
Methods For Choosing An Estate Agent:
Once you have decided on what type of estate agent you may want, you can start narrowing down your selection through a process of elimination. this may involve…
Use A Comparison Service
Using automated comparison services can be a great way to narrow down your choices. They use different parameters to make their recommendations but will usually try and recommend the best estate agent for you.
Here at Property Road we offer two types of recommended estate agent comparisons:
Online Estate Agent Comparison
This comparison asks 5 simple questions about you and what you’re looking for and will recommend the best online estate agent based on your answers:
High Street Estate Agent Comparison
If you prefer to use a traditional high street estate agent, you can use the comparison tool here to find the best performing high street agents in your area.
Ask For Recommendations
One of the best ways to find a good estate agent is to ask friends, family, and neighbours for recommendations.
Someone who has been all the way through the sales process with an estate agent will know how they perform during the vital post-offer period. This is more important than how an agent comes across during a valuation as the negotiation and sales progression is vital to securing a sale.
Check Out Local ‘Sold’ Boards
Looking at which agents are selling the most properties in your area can be a great indication as to how easily they’ll be able to sell your property.
Not only do a lot of ‘Sold’ boards mean an agent is successful in your area, it also means they probably have experience in selling properties that are similar in size and style as your own.
Remember that a ‘sold’ board is much more meaningful than a ‘for sale’ sign in this respect. Estate agents who seem to have their properties up for sale for a long time, without ever seeming to get to the ‘sold’ stage suggests they may be over-pricing properties or failing to perform once the property is on the market.
Get Multiple Valuations
The vast majority of estate agents will provide free valuations of properties as it gives them a chance to pitch their agency in the hope you’ll instruct them to put your home on the market.
Therefore, take advantage of these valuations and get at least three different valuations. Keep in mind that the agent with the highest valuation isn’t automatically the best one to go with. They may be being unrealistic about the sale price, especially if the other valuations are considerably lower.
For this reason, take time to assess exactly why the agent is giving you the valuation they are. Can they show you what other comparable properties in the area have sold for? What is their plan if they don’t attract enough interest at the price they are suggesting it’s listed at?
Analyse Their Offering
Before being able to choose an estate agent, you’ll need to understand exactly what you are getting for your money. Is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) included? Are any upgrades being applied to your Rightmove listing? Will the estate agent conduct the viewings for you?
By knowing the answers to these questions you’ll be able to ensure you are comparing estate agents on a like-for-like basis. For instance, keep in mind that most online estate agents charge extra if you want them to conduct viewings on your behalf. Whereas traditional estate agents usually do it as part of the service. However, even with the added costs of hosted viewings, online estate agents still usually work out cheaper overall.
If you are still deciding which estate agent to use, check out our online estate agent comparison to see which online agent would be right for you.
Become A ‘Buyer’
One of the best ways to see how an estate agent will sell your property is to go and view one of the other properties they are selling in your local area.
How good are they on the phone when you call to book a viewing? How knowledgeable about the property are they? Do they turn up to viewings promptly? Are they ‘selling’ the benefits of the property as you look around it? Do they follow up for feedback after the viewing?
All of these things will give you an idea of how well they will deal with potential buyers when your property is on the market. The better they perform, the higher the chance of selling your property at a good price.
Check Rightmove Listings
Recent surveys suggest as many as 95% of people now start their property search online, meaning listings on online property sites are now vitally important. If the agent does not have listings that are accurate, stand out, and present the property in the best light, it’s probably best to find a different agent.
Read Their Online Reviews
The internet allows people to leave honest, unedited comments about virtually any type of business. Estate agents are no different. If there is an agent you are considering, the chances are there will be reviews from real clients online.
In fact, we have conducted our own online estate agent reviews to help you decide which agent will be best suited to selling your property.
Check Their Opening Times
The opening times of your estate agent are really important when it comes to trying to sell your property. As buyers now check online property listings at all hours of the day (and night!), the ability for them to strike while the iron is hot, and book a viewing as soon as they see your property listing, can be a big advantage.
Most online estate agents have extended call centre opening hours, with some operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Others will have an online system for booking viewings so that appointments can be made around the clock.
Traditional high-street agents, on the other hand, often only open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. This can make it tricky for potential buyers who work during these hours to book viewings, put in offers promptly, and so on. This is another reason online estate agents are growing in popularity.
Read The Terms And Conditions
Each estate agent will have their own terms and conditions that will apply when you instruct them to sell your property. These will usually detail whether any kind of exclusivity period applies, the amount that will be due in fees, and when those costs will be due to be paid.
Read the terms very carefully, compare them to the other agents you are considering and don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand.
Check What You’ll Pay
In most cases, the amount you’ll pay is pretty straightforward. As a general rule of thumb, traditional high-street estate agents will charge a percentage commission on the final sales price. This will typically be between 1% and 2.5% and you’ll usually have VAT to add on top. Therefore, on a £200,000 property, you will be looking at paying between £2,000 and £5,000 + VAT.
This will only be payable when your property is sold and usually comes out of the sale proceeds when the solicitor is completing the conveyancing procedure. If the estate agent does not successfully sell your property, you should not usually expect to have to pay them anything but it’s worth checking the terms and conditions.
Online estate agents are typically much cheaper as most work on an up-front fixed fee price of around £600-£900 regardless of how much your property sells for. They claim this is a fairer price as the same amount of work goes into selling a property for £100,000 as goes into selling one for £500,000. However, on this fixed price you will pay up-front and will not get a refund if your property does not sell.
Increasingly, online estate agents are offering ‘No Sale, No Fee’ packages too, usually priced around £1,500. This bridges the gap towards traditional estate agency pricing models so there is less risk on your part and more emphasis on the agent having to sell your property.
How To Choose An Estate Agent – Summary
As you can see, there are a number of factors to consider when thinking about how to choose an estate agent. Selling your property is increasingly becoming an online affair and the growing popularity of online estate agents has given sellers an extra option to consider.
Online agents tend to be cheaper, in fact, we consider that to be one of the 5 main benefits of online estate agents. However, an online estate agent isn’t for everyone.
As long as you have taken your time to carefully assess the merits of all of the options open to you for selling your home, you should go into the process with excitement and optimism that you’ll soon find a buyer for your home.
If you’re still wondering why you need an estate agent at all, and why you cannot just sell your property yourself, check out our guide on how to list your property on Rightmove.