Feeling a bit overwhelmed while trying to choose an estate agent to help sell your home? Here we list the key criteria to look out for.

When it comes to selling your home, most people appoint an estate agent who will market the property, provide ‘for sale’ boards, conduct viewings, and generally deal with the sales process. 

Estate agents are becoming ever-more professional, helped by a raft of measures announced by the Government last April, to drive any rogue agents out of the market. These included professional qualifications and a requirement to be transparent about fees. 

What does this mean for homeowners?

The requirement for agents to have a professional qualification will put them on a similar footing to conveyancers, solicitors and surveyors. 

At the same time, agents who do not comply with the new rules will face greater penalties, including being banned. 

But it is still worth checking your estate agent’s credentials before signing on the dotted line, so what exactly should you look out for? 

Is there an overall governing body for estate agents?

No. Rather than an overall governing body, there is a hierarchy of legislation, mandatory redress schemes and professional trade bodies.

So how do you know where to begin? 

See if the agent is a member of a trade body

Find out if your agent is a regulated member of a professional body. Many agents will be members of trade bodies, such as estate agency industry body, NAEA Propertymark or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). 

The NAEA is the professional body for estate agents, promoting high standards within the property sector. Members are bound by strict rules and are expected to uphold high levels of professional standards. They must adhere to a strict code of conduct. NAEA can issue tough penalties if rules are breached. 

Agents who belong to RICS face sanctions if they act inappropriately. In the worst cases, agents could end up losing their chartered status, meaning they can no longer carry out certain types of work. 

Check for a redress scheme

All estate agents need to be a member of a Government-approved independent redress scheme. This is a legal requirement. The idea behind this is that complaints can be dealt with quickly and easily. 

With this in mind, make sure your agent is a member of The Property Ombudsman or Property Redress scheme.

The role of an independent redress scheme is to provide fair and reasonable resolutions to disputes with members of the public. 

Note that the Ombudsman Services: Property was discontinued in August 2018. Members of this scheme have had to join an alternative scheme. 

How can I find out what credentials my agent has?

Check out information on your chosen estate agent by using Zoopla’s AgentFinder tool.

Why is it important to check an agent’s credentials? 

It can be tempting to go for the one that gives you the highest valuation. But you need to consider other factors, such as fees, the time is takes to sell properties, the service offered and whether the agent belongs to any regulatory bodies.

This will ensure you are getting an agent working to the highest standards, offering honest advice and a top-notch service. 

Read Phil Spencer’s top tips for picking an agent at: How to choose the right estate agent 

Zoopla has a comprehensive directory of estate agents to help you sell your home. Use Zoopla’s AgentFinder tool to compare local agents in your area, including the properties they are currently listing and the average time it is taking them to sell homes. 

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