How to choose an estate agent

How to choose an estate agent

Selling your home is all about decisions - and making the right ones at the right time.

Choosing an estate agent is one of the most critical and can be the difference between a quick sale for a good price and long, painful months of no buyer interest.

But with so many options available, where do you start when searching for the ideal estate agent? As always at CJ Hole, we are here to help.

How to pick an estate agent

There are lots of estate agents out there, so you have plenty of choice when it comes to who you choose to sell your home.

The sheer amount of choice can be daunting, though, so here are our top tips on finding the right agent for you…

1. Decide on the kind of contract you want

One key decision for you is whether to market your property with one or multiple agents.

Estate agents usually offer several types of contract, including:

Sole-agency – your estate agent has exclusive rights to marketing your home for a set period of time

Multi-agency – you’ll be able to put your property up for sale with more than one agent, but you’ll almost certainly pay more in commission

Sole Selling Rights – this contract is similar to a Sole Agency agreement, but you would be required to pay your agent commission even if you find your own buyer

Fixed fee – your agent will agree to sell your home for a fixed amount of money rather than a percentage commission of the sale price

2. Speak to family and friends for recommendations

In the estate agency business, reputation is everything.

So, if your family or friends are able to recommend an estate agent for you to use, that recommendation carries a lot of weight.

Equally, if an agent has a questionable reputation in their area, you’ll soon hear about it.

3. Search for agents near you online

As well as recommendations from family and friends, a simple Google search for ‘estate agents near me’ will bring up a list of potentials for you to consider.

Take a look at their websites – are they professional, easy to navigate and well-written? Are their property listings presented well, with good quality photography and informative property descriptions? Are you able to book a valuation appointment through their website?

If an agent has a professional website with a great user experience, it will be optimised to attract more buyers – a tick in the box for you as a customer.

4. Look for online reviews of local agents

Once you’ve found some of the agents in your area online, look for reviews of their service.

A good place to start is Google, where previous customers can post their thoughts on a particular agent– good or bad.

5. Draw up a shortlist and speak to each agent

Draw up a shortlist of agents you like the look of and that have solid reviews and recommendations in your area.

Once you have that shortlist, get in touch with each agent and ask them some key questions, including:

1. How much will you charge me?

Find out what the agent will charge in commission, or fixed fee, for the contract you want.

2. Are there any additional costs?

Some agents charge for things like For Sale boards, professional photography or floorplans, so find out so you don’t get a surprise bill at the end.

3. How will you market my home?

A good agent should be able to offer you various marketing techniques to get your home sold quickly, including:

• Listings on the main online property portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket

• Pitching your home to a substantial list of potential buyers on their database

• A professional and easy to view window display in branch

• A comprehensive property listing on their own website

• Through an active and engaging social media strategy

• By offering virtual tours to potential buyers from out of the area

4. How easily do properties like mine sell in the area?

A good agent should be able to call upon previous data to answer this question and should have a sound knowledge of the local market.

5. How much is my property worth?

Using their knowledge of the current market conditions and calling upon sale prices in your area, your agent should be able to give you an accurate valuation of your property.

6. Invite your shortlisted agents over

With the ongoing coronavirus restrictions still in place, your shortlisted agents should be able to offer an online video valuation of your home in the first instance. However, it’s also possible for agents to carry out in-person valuations while taking measures to keep you safe.

Speak to your agents and arrange times for them to carry out a thorough valuation of your home.

This is also a great opportunity for you to find out more about how they conduct viewings with potential buyers and what measures they’re taking to keep those buyers, and you, safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

What is their track record for selling homes like yours and achieving asking prices? Ask them about the reasons behind their valuation when they have supplied it and find out what they would do if the property was not selling as quickly as expected.

And most importantly, are they open at weekends? A surprising number of agents only open between Monday and Friday, severely limiting the number of people who could view your property.

7. Consider their valuations and which one works for you

While the highest valuation of your home will always stand out, it might not be the right one for you.

Think about your needs – do you need to sell quickly because you’re moving out of the area for work? Or do you need to achieve the best sale price possible in order to take your next step on the property ladder?

While it’s always tempting to opt for the agent offering the highest valuation, consider that valuations above the market level can sometimes mean fewer viewings, longer sale timeframes or not even selling at all.

8. Consider each agent’s commission rate

Most agents will charge between 1% and 2.5% + VAT of the sale price for a sole agency agreement.

The fee calculation often excludes VAT so add on an extra 20% when you do your sums.

For a £300,000 sale, for instance, the commission with VAT added would work out between 1.2% and 3% - so £3,600 to £9,000 in real money.

9. Are your agents offering a no sale, no fee contract?

You should only have to pay your estate agent commission if they actually sell your home.

Some agents include clauses like ‘finding a ready, willing and able purchaser’, which means if they find you a buyer, but the sale falls through before exchange of contracts, you’ll still have to pay commission.

10. You’re in control

Choosing an estate agent to sell your home is your decision and remembering that the agent is working for and acting on behalf of you is rule number one.

Do you get on with your agent? Do you trust them? Most importantly, read the contract in its entirety.  If there is something in the text that is unclear, ask.

If you are unhappy, don't sign.

If you’re thinking about selling your property, your local CJ Hole branch are here to help. You can also download our Guide to Selling to find out more about how CJ Hole can get you moving.

Further reading…

If you need to sell quickly, perhaps because you’re keen to beat the stamp duty deadline or you’ve found your dream house to buy, selling at auction can be a great way to do this.

There are also a whole host of other steps you can take to secure that quick sale.