When you are selling your home, you want to choose an estate agency that you trust to do the best possible job for you. After all, your agent will be representing you and your home to potential buyers.
The time it takes to achieve a sale, and the offer amount you receive from buyers, is hugely dependent on the estate agent you choose, so it’s important to know what a good agent looks like and how to find one.
Where to start your research
It is worthwhile putting significant time into researching the best estate agencies, before making a commitment to one. Furthermore, you should only ask agencies for a house valuation if you are certain that they are a genuine, reputable company. Many agents will knowingly overvalue your house to win your business, then ask you to reduce the price. Be sure to look out for this.
To start your research, you should do the following:
- Look in the local newspaper
- Search for estate agencies online
- Ask friends and family for recommendations
- Read reviews on platforms such as Google Review and Trustpilot
- Look at properties similar to yours that have sold
What makes a good estate agent?
There are several factors that determine how good an estate agent is. You should consider all of these – including which factor(s) is most important to you – before making a decision.
Firstly, it is hugely important that your estate agent has an impressive network in the area that you are selling. A strong network like this is particularly common with agents who have been working in the industry/area for a long time. Put simply: the better their network, the more potential buyers they can contact to view your house… and therefore, the quicker you will start to receive offers.
Your estate agent also needs to have clear communication skills. This involves not just making things easy for you to understand, but proactively communicating with you on a regular basis, rather than waiting for you to come to them. Strong communication is particularly important when you are operating within a chain. This is because your agent may need to liaise with several people (solicitors, buyers and sellers along the chain) at the same time… as well as keeping you informed on the progress of your deal.
Finally, it is critical that your agent is always honest with you, both in the valuation of your house, and the status of a potential sale. An honest estate agent will give you clear recommendations and realistic updates, without giving you false hope.
Should I use one or multiple estate agent?
It was common for sellers to use multiple estate agents when the internet was less commonly used and sellers wanted to reach buyers in many different areas.
Nowadays, it is rarely necessary for you to hire multiple estate agents. The best agencies are generally successful at finding buyers within a couple of months (even in a cold market) and therefore using multiple agents will increase your costs.
Furthermore, using multiple estate agents may result in your property being listed several times online. This scenario can be confusing for potential buyers, who may then hesitate to enquire, and can also be misleading, because if the estate agents use different photography and videos, then some people may think they are two different houses.
Things to look out for when choosing your estate agent
There are many things you must look out for when choosing your estate agent. Firstly, find out how they deal with enquiries outside of office hours – do they have a 24/7 answering service? If not, you may want to look for another estate agent – because consumers are looking for 24/7 engagement, and homebuyers are no different. You should also look out for whether their estate agency offers a 24/7 webchat answering service on their website.
You should be aware that often, the individual who carries out a valuation on your property is not the same person you will be working with to sell the house. It is common for house sellers to select an estate agency because they liked the person who completed their valuation – only to get passed along to a different individual. Therefore, you should get a clear idea of the hierarchy of the office – and who will be selling your house – before you commit to a decision.
It is common for estate agents to give a very high initial valuation of your property, so you are more inclined to hire them to sell the house. However, some agencies do this to secure you as a customer – before slicing the price when it doesn’t sell. You should be aware of this common scenario and compare prices from many different agencies, before you commit to the agency giving the highest valuation.
Some sellers avoid this ambiguity over the valuations by choosing a trusted cash house buyer, like WeBuyAnyHome, to buy their property. We provide upfront, accurate valuations and are transparent in our offers.
Important questions to ask your estate agent
There are many important questions to ask your estate agent, before you commit to one.
You firstly need to get a clear idea of the estate agent’s marketing budget. Ask them what marketing ideas they will implement to help sell your property, beyond putting the house on the usual portals like RightMove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket. If they stumble with an answer, you know that their marketing is limited, and you will want to look elsewhere.
You should also ask for comparable evidence that the estate agent has used to arrive at the valuation of your property. For example, it could be that your agent is using the wrong data – so ask to see this data, and discuss it with them, so you are happy with how they have arrived at their figure.
Additional questions you should ask your estate agent include:
- Do you have any hot buyers you could contact to arrange to view my house?
- How long is your average property taking to sell right now?
- Are you open for viewings in the evenings and weekends?
- How many properties like this one have you sold in the past few months, and what have they sold for?
- Are you a member of a professional industry body? (e.g. The National Association of Estate Agents or The Property Ombudsman)
- How many people on your CRM system are you going to call/email about my property?
- What are the terms of your contract?
You will also need details of their fees, any additional costs whatsoever, plus their terms of business.