How to choose an estate agent? The answer is not so simple. Many factors can affect this decision, and it's important to take them all into account before you make your final choice.
When you consider the average estate agent fee is 1.42% of the total selling price according to a 2018 survey by the Advisory, you really want to make the right choice.
We will go through 10 things you should consider before choosing an estate agent in the UK.
What Makes a Good Estate Agent?
It is essential for anyone selling a home to choose the best possible estate agency. The wrong estate agent could cost you a lot of money and time.
So, what makes a good estate agent?
The best agents have a lot of experience and knowledge about the property market. They will know how to get you the best price for your home, and they will also be able to find you the perfect property to buy. Good agents are also very well-connected in the industry. They will introduce you to several potential buyers and sellers and probably have buyers registered on their system.
A good estate agent should also have a strong online presence. They should have a well-designed website, and they should also be active on social media. This is important, as most people now find their estate agents online.
Related article: Estate agent fees
How Do I Choose an Estate Agent?
There are many steps you can take to choose the right estate agent. Here are ten tips on how to find an ideal candidate for your home sale:
1. Select a Shortlist of Estate Agents
To get the best estate agent for your needs, you need to interview some literally. But of course, it isn't practical to invite every estate agent around to your home. It would be best if you had a shortlist.
A Few Ways to Create a Good Shortlist:
Research online – You should always start your search by looking at internet reviews of potential estate agents. If they have a good reputation, their service will likely be excellent. UK sites like allagents and even Google reviews are good to start.
Related Article: Best Online Estate Agents
Check the property portals – The best estate agents will be on all major property portals, such as Rightmove and Zoopla. You can search for agents by postcode on these websites.
Ask family and friends – If you know someone who has recently sold their home, ask them which estate agent they used. They will have some recommendations for you.
Visit estate agents in person – You can get a feel for how professional an estate agent is just by visiting their office and meeting them face to face. Be sure that they provide you with all of the information about fees upfront, so there are no surprises during or after your sale.
Ask on a local Facebook group - Facebook groups are great sources for local advice and opinions. Of course, not everyone will be an expert, so don't use it as your only source of information, but you will quickly be able to see how good a local agent is by how many people recommend it.
Once you have shortlisted estate agents, you are ready for the next step!
2. Make Sure to get an Average Valuation
Estate agents understand the importance of their valuation. It would help if you made sure to get at least four estate agents to value your property so that you have an average amount. Some estate agents may overvalue your property to get your business, so beware.
3. Find out About the Estate Agent's Fees
Fees are an important consideration, as you want to make sure that they don't cost you too much money.
Estate agents have two options for their fee: a percentage of your property value or a fixed price.
The second option is usually better for homeowners, as it means that you will know exactly how much you are going to be paying the agent.
4. Check Online and Local Estate Agents
Of course, you need to compare estate agents. Be sure to compare local estate agents both online and high street so that you can get a total picture of fees.
High street estate agents usually charge based on a % of the total selling price, so it literally pays them to sell your home for more.
Online agents are great as they usually have lower fees, but you need to make sure that their service is good. Some online agents only do viewings via Skype or Facetime and may not be able to provide you with the same level of support as a local agent.
5. Interview at Least Three Estate Agents
Don't sign anything until you've interviewed at least three estate agents. You need to ensure that they are the right estate agent for your needs, so having a few interviews will help you narrow down which one is best suited to you.
Ask them how many deals have been done in the last year
You can get an idea of whether or not an estate agent has experienced this by asking them about their recent deals.
An estate agent who has been in the business for a while will have a lot of experience and give you good advice about your property sale.
6. Check Industry Credentials
It's important to ensure that the estate agent you use has all of their industry credentials.
An example of a good credential is being a member of The Property Ombudsman, which provides them with official accreditation and ensures they have received professional training in customer care and marketing techniques. It also means that you will be protected if there are any problems during your sale.
A good estate agent will brag on their website their credentials, good ones to look out for include:
- Guild of Property Professionals
- National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
7. Find out how Long They've Been Working as an Estate Agent
Another way to measure their experience is to ask how long they've been working as an estate agent.
An agent who has been in the industry for a long time will have more knowledge and help you through every step of the sale.
8. Check out the Estate Agent's Marketing Materials
The best agents have high-quality, professional marketing materials. They will likely have a well-designed website and be active on social media. You should also check if they have any property listings on their website.
Be sure to check who they advertise with. The more websites they are on, the better exposure your property will get meaning more buyers for you to choose from.
9. Prepare Questions
Once you have shortlisted your potential estate agents, you want to make sure you have a set of questions to ask each of them to help you compare which estate agent is right for you. Good questions to ask include:
- How long have you been in business? A good estate agent will have been in business a while.
- What marketing campaigns do you have?
- How much exposure will my property receive on the internet and in-person (e.g. through Open Houses)?
- Do you offer a valuation service, or should I use an independent agent to value my home?
- Have any of your recent clients been happy with their experience working with you as an estate agent?
- Who will be available for viewings?
10. Read Terms and Conditions Before you Sign Anything
Estate agents will often require you to sign a Terms and Conditions contract.
You must read this document thoroughly before signing anything, as it will outline the agent's responsibilities and your rights.
If there is anything in the contract that you don't understand, be sure to ask the estate agent to explain it to you.
11. Decide if you Want a sole or Multi-agency Agreement
Estate agents can work on a sole agency agreement or for multiple agencies. Having multiple estate agents can work in your favour.
A sole agency contract is where you commit to just one estate agent when selling property. The advantage of a sole agent is mainly simplicity. You should be confident about the agent and be confident they can find a seller who will pay your asking price.
Multi-agency agreements mean that you list your property with more than one agent, and they can sell it for you. In theory, you are putting estate agents against each other, so they should work harder for sale.
There are pros and cons to both. A single-agency price is lower, but the net isn't as wide, meaning less possibility of a rapid sale. Multi-agency costs more, but it allows your home to be seen by more people, increasing the chance of a quick sale.
It's good to do local market research before deciding which agreement to go for. For instance, if your type of property is in demand, there is no reason to go for a sole agreement so save yourself the cash.
12. Follow up on Your Estate Agents Performance
Before deciding it's good to look at more than customer reviews, sites like allaboutagents can help you see how good the overall performance of your potential agent is.
For instance, you want good customer service and an agent who knows what they are doing. Good performance indicators include time to sell, valuation accuracy.
If you're not happy with one agent, then it's ok to switch. Just make sure you have a signed contract termination in place.
How to Choose an Estate Agent FAQs
Still, have more questions? Check out our FAQs for questions that other readers had!
Does it matter which estate agent you use?
Yes, absolutely, using a good estate agent is key to getting the best return on your investment. Picking the wrong agent could literally cost you thousands.
Use the tips in this guide to find the right estate agent for your needs.
Is it best to use a local estate agent?
The best estate agent is the one that knows your local market inside out. They'll have a good understanding of what's selling, for how much and be able to give you an accurate valuation. However, this doesn't mean that all national agents aren't good - it just depends on their coverage in your area. Online agents like Yopa have locally based agents but have a fixed fee service to get a great price and local expertise.
Choosing the right estate agent can be a daunting task, but if you keep the following tips in mind, you should be able to find one that is perfect for your needs.
Make sure to ask questions, read the Terms and Conditions carefully, and decide if you want a sole or Multi-agency Agreement. Follow up on your estate agents performance to make sure they are living up to your expectations.
Let us know in the comments what you found out about your agent!