How to find the right estate agent for you

How to find the right estate agent for you

By Nicky Burridge

10 ways to ensure your property is listed in the right market and attracts the buyers you want.

Your home is likely to be your most valuable asset and finding the right estate agent to sell it is a top priority. Choosing the right agent can play a key role in how quickly your property sells and how much it sells for. 

We take a look at some of the factors to bear in mind when looking for the right estate agent for you.

1. Look for a good match

When picking an estate agent, it's important to choose one who's a good match for your property.

For example, if you have a high-value or unique home, you're likely to be better off with a high-end or specialist estate agent.

Equally, if your property is mid-range and typical of your area, you'll probably do well opting for a regular high street agent.

Potential buyers will gravitate towards estate agents who sell the type of home they are interested in, so getting this wrong could mean you miss marketing your property to your target audience.

2. Weigh up charges

Estate agents make money by charging commission to buyers on the sale price of your home, usually at a rate of around 1.5% to 2.5%.

When weighing up who to list your home with, it's a good idea to compare charges across different agents.

Cheaper isn’t necessarily better, as those charging a higher rate may do more to sell your home, helping you to find a buyer more quickly.

On the other hand, if you think there is high demand for your property type in your area, you may be better off going with an agent charging a lower rate, even if they may do less work.

One of the big choices you'll also need to make is whether to go for a sole agency, where one firm has the exclusive right to market your home for a fixed period, or multi agency, where you get more than one firm to help you sell.

The choice you make will affect the amount you pay in fees and could also potentially have an impact on the amount you receive for your home. We take a look at the pros and cons of sole agency and multi agency contracts here.

3. Go for maximum exposure

Another factor to look at when choosing an estate agent is how much exposure they're likely to get for your property.

For instance, find out if they list properties on Zoopla and our partner sites, and whether they have their own website. 

Will they reach buyers who may not use the internet, such as by advertising in the local newspaper? Do they have a large shop window in a busy location in which they display properties, and, if so, will they display your property there? 

4. What service are they offering?

Before signing up with an estate agent, it's important to understand the extent of the service they are offering.

Some estate agents show potential buyers around your home on your behalf, while others leave this to you.

Not all estate agents are open at weekends or do tours outside of the working week.

If you work full time, you're likely to need an estate agent who will take care of tours for you during the week.

5. How do they look?

As a potential customer, it's also worth taking the time to get a sense of how estate agents present the properties they have listed.

Key things to look for are whether they have taken high-quality professional photographs that show a home at its best. Also check whether they ‘sell’ the property in their write up or just offer a factual description.

It's also worth finding out if they include any extras in the listing, such as a virtual tour or floorplan.

Chances are, the more of these boxes your estate agent ticks, the quicker your home will sell.

6. The personal touch

As well as looking at how estate agents present the properties they have on their books, it's also important to take the time to call into their office and talk to them.

Ask yourself whether you like them and if they seem friendly and knowledgeable. 

Do they appear to be excited about selling your home, or do they lack interest or motivation?

You need to be able to trust your estate agent, so think about whether you feel they are being honest with you or if they are talking up the prospect of selling your home in order to win the business.

7. Are they experienced?

The experience and qualifications of estate agents are also important factors to take into account when deciding who to list with.

You'll want to be confident that they're listing your property for the correct price, so find out how long they have been in the game and whether they've previously sold a lot of properties like yours.

You'll also want someone who's knowledgeable about the local area, so that they'll be able to answer any questions your potential buyers may have.

Finally, look to see if they have any additional qualifications, such as being members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

8. Know what you're getting into

When selecting an estate agent, it's important to read their terms and conditions.

As well as knowing the commission they charge, you should also be aware of what may happen if you decide to change agent or use more than one agent.

Most agents have a ‘lock-in period’, usually of around 12 weeks, during which you cannot change agent or sign up with an additional one.

You should also check how much commission they'll charge if you have more than one agent trying to sell your home, as in most cases this fee is higher at around 3%.

9. Check you are protected

While the majority of sellers are happy with the service their estate agent provides, it's important to ensure you're protected if something goes wrong.

By law, all estate agents have to belong to an ombudsman scheme, such as the Property Ombudsman Scheme, which handles disputes between estate agents and their clients.

Even so, it's still worth checking that an estate agent you are thinking of using belongs to one of these schemes.

10. Shop around

As with any major decision, it's worth shopping around until you find an estate agent you feel comfortable with.

It's also a good idea to have more than one estate agent offer a valuation on your home, to ensure you're happy with the price your chosen agent suggests.

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