Top Tips for Choosing a Good Estate Agent
Updated: Jun 7
Top Tips for Choosing a Good Estate Agent
Buying or selling a home is not an everyday task. It’s arguably one of the most important things you will do in your life. For many, buying and selling a property is a nerve-wracking experience, one that can be made easier by the help of a good estate agent.
Choosing a good estate agent is a crucial aspect of both the home buying and home selling process. The right estate agent who knows the ins and outs of the market can make a difference on how quickly you find or sell a property. However, not all estate agents across the UK offer the same standards and level of expertise when it comes to local knowledge, and an in depth understanding of the local property market is exactly what you need when looking to sell or buy a new home.
There will be some estate agents who will be very established in the area and have been around for a very long time and will have a breadth of knowledge to share with you. There are other agents who are part of a larger company wide chain, and often some smaller family run outfits. In short, there is something for everyone and it is important to speak to a few and work out who you like the most and feel you would work best with in order to achieve your goals together.
Here are some top tips that might help you when trying to work out which estate agent you would like to work with:
1. Traditional vs Online Estate Agency
The first step in selecting the best agent is to decide which type of agency to use – a traditional or an online agency.
A traditional estate agency has a physical office. You will be able to meet in person with agents who can help you with the process. They will also be able to help negotiate the best price for your property and push through sales development on your behalf. You will pay a fee for their services based on the sale of the property; this fee typically sits around 1% of the agreed sale price plus VAT.
Online agencies don’t have local offices you can visit and you may only have a local contact to whom you can call and speak to on the phone. Most of the online agencies charge a fixed fee which tends to be lower than the commission you would pay a traditional estate agent and some will charge that fee upfront.
Many people prefer having a person they can visit and work closely with, which is a service that is not readily available via the online agents. However, peple often prefer the cheaper option which is why so many people do chose to sell their houses with online agcnies, like Purple Bricks for example.
2. Sole Agency vs Multiple Agency
Another point to consider is how many estate agents you would like to work with to sell your property. Of course, when you are buying, it is easier to work with multiple because they will each have different properties to share with you. We would always recommend working with multiple agents that you like when buying. It is a little different when selling.
More often than not,vendors prefer to select only one agent as it is simpler to deal and to manage. Some agencies actually don’t allow multiple agency agreements so make sure you are clear on this from the start when chatting to different estate agents. Sole agency is also cheaper compared to multi-agency appointments which costs more, however your property will get more exposure in theory, which could possibly increase the chances of a quicker sale.
Potential buyers often see two sale signs with two separate agents as an alarm bell; they might ask themselves why the vendor is so desperate to sell, wonder if there is something wrong with the property or simply see it as too much to try and deal with multiple agents for their purchase.
3. Ask for recommendations
It is a good idea to ask family and friends who have recently purchased or sold in the area who they used and what their experience with that particular agent was like.
It’s also worth looking around in your local area at “for sale” and “sold” signs – it could be a good indicator of agents that work well and most successful in your area.
You could also take a look on their website, read their reviews and see what other customers have said about them. This will help you get a good understanding of their service offering.
4. Shortlist at least three potential estate agents
After gathering some recommendations, it is advisable to pick two or three to invite to value your home.
This way, you also get the opportunity to meet face to face with a member from their team, chat with them and get a better understanding of whether you might like to work with them to sell your home and/or help you find a new home.
5. Check the estate agent’s credentials
Once you’ve created your shortlist, it is a good idea check if the agents are a member of The Property Ombudsman Scheme. They are required to sign up and be a member of the scheme; their membership allows for a proper channel for complaints to be escalated in an objective manner.
Most of the estate agents will also be members of trade bodies such as:
· Guild of Property Professionals
The membership means they have to comply with a code of conduct and may indicate professionalism and diligence. Knowing that they are members of these organisations places confidence in your decision-making and allows you to feel more relaxed with helping them sell your home or find you a new one.
6. Ask the Estate Agent questions
It is really important to as the estate agent who you think you might like to work with to sell your property, as many questions as you feel you need to. Here are a few suggestions:
How much do they charge?
How do they value your property?
How will your property be advertised?
Who will look after viewings and handle the sale?
What experience do they have selling homes similar to yours?
Why should you use them over another agent?
How quickly do they sell homes?
How many people are on their database?
Who will be managing the sale from their team with you?
7. Read the Terms and Conditions
Remember that when you hire an estate agent, you will be bound by terms and conditions. Read the contract with any estate agent thoroughly. Do not skip any details as every detail is significant.
The contract should include all the terms to which both parties have agreed upon. You should also look into other factors like the length of the contract itself. A normal agreement is 12 weeks but can be lesser as 4 weeks. If your contract is much longer than that and you still haven’t sold your property, you may want to switch to another agent. Likewise if as a buyer, you haven’t found the home you want within a given period, it’s helpful to keep your options open.
Do not be frightened to question things you don’t understand or don’t agree with the contract. If you are not satisfied, you have every right to not sign it.
8. Review your agent’s performance
After a period of working with your estate agent, evaluate his/her performance.
How many viewings have you had?
How did your viewings go?
Has your Estate Agent been working as hard as you expect?
Have you received a quality service?
Are you getting detailed feedback from your viewings?
Characteristics of a Good Estate Agent
A good agent knows that a property is more than just a business, it’s about people. Even though selling a property can be daunting, their job is to help and support all parties to achieve the best outcome.
With that in mind, here are some qualities a real good agent must possess:
· Reliable experience
· Strong local market knowledge
· Negotiation skills
· Effective communication