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Why use an estate agent to sell your home?

Estate agent signs

Selling a property can be an emotional roller coaster, but a good agent can be critical to reducing the stress levels when selling your property. 99% of property sales are completed with sellers using estate agents, after all, it's estate agents that are expert in the selling of property, not the owner.

A good place to search for local agents is online as well as your high street. If you are thinking about selling or letting your home, Get a FREE valuation from local agents.

Here's some advice on why you should use an agent, what to look out for and how to work with, not against them.

1. Why instruct an agent?

Your key reasons for instructing an agent should be because of their negotiation skills, their ability to market your property to the widest possible audience and their experience of managing the sales process.

2. Agent fees

When choosing an agent make sure you ask what their fees are. Typically they can range from 0.5% to 3%. Some agents may be open to negotiation on fees, other won't be, but it's worth asking.

3. Experience

An estate agent is likely to have sold hundreds of homes, but find out if they have sold on your street before, or sold properties like yours before. What price did they achieve and what is the market like for your particular type of property.

4. The asking price

The asking price of the property can really affect the level of interest your property attracts. We recommend doing your own research initially and running a free value estimate as well as requesting three local agents to come to value your property. Agents won't charge for this. Once you have the Zoopla value estimate, have researched previous sold prices and three agent valuations you'll have a good amount of information to make an informed decision with your agent as to the best asking price for your property.

5. The marketing of your property

Make sure you ask where the agent will advertise your property. With over 82% of buyers starting their search online find out if they are on or any other of the large property websites. Will they place a board outside, if so where? What is their own website like and do they have a sample of copy of what the property details could look like? Do they advertise in the local press perhaps?

6. Terms and Conditions

Most estate agents will ask you to sign standard terms and conditions, once you agree to appoint them. It's worth taking time to read the small print. How much notice do you have to give if you decide to change agent? What is there joint agency rate if you decide to go with an additional agent later on?

7. Agent relationships

Buying and selling houses is all about people and relationships. How you handle those relationships is the key to a stress-free selling experience. You need to be confident that you can trust and work with your agent. You need to feel that he or she has your best interests at heart in order to minimise the stress levels.

8. Listen to their advice

The agent you appoint is likely to have some straight talking advice, which could make all the difference. It might be hard to hear, but will be worthwhile. They may suggest a lick of paint, some work in the garden, tidying of book shelves, de-cluttering or hiding the kid's toys. In some cases they may raise some bigger and more costly issues such as damp, windows or a lease extension.

9. Working with, not against your agent

A good agent can only do their job if you work with them. Make sure they have a set of keys from the beginning. Allow them to post a sales board outside the property. Try to be as accommodating with viewings as possible...even first thing on a Saturday morning. Most agents would prefer that the owners are not present at viewings, but some may say it's a good idea to be there for a second viewing. So check with your agent. Remember, it just takes one buyer.

10. The offer

It's likely that a buyer will offer below the asking price in the first instance. Don't be disheartened by this. Your agent should know the position of the buyers and advise you on the best next steps. In some cases agents may suggest that in order to secure or sweeten the offer you look at creating a chain free sale by moving out into a rental property.

11. The survey

Most buyers will carry out a survey of the property. It is common that surveys can initially create another hurdle for the owner and agent to overcome. Consider the points raised by the buyer carefully. If necessary, have your own specialists look at the issues, then try to reach a compromise with the buyers via your estate agent if you feel the points raised are valid. It's highly likely that your agent will have been able to let you know of some of the possible issues that crop up when you appointed them.

12. The exchange and completion date

When the offer is agreed it's easy to think the hard work has been done. In order to keep all parties focused it's important to have an idea of when the buyer wants to exchange contracts and move in. This will all be done via solicitors, but try your best to make it work for both parties in order to keep the sales process on an even keel.