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10 Timely Top Tips To Help You Choose The Right Estate Agent

View profile for Paul Hajek
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Update: this blog has now been updated, and you can view it here.

Wouldn’t you know it? Estate Agents like Conveyancing Solicitors, are not all are the same.

But, if you do your homework, know and ask the right questions before you choose you’ll be abhow to choose right estate agent for youle to find the right Estate Agent for you to help market and sell your home successfully.

And we’re here to help and guide you.

Here are our 10 Timely Top Tips to help you choose the right Estate Agent for you.

Top Tip No 1 in Choosing the Right Estate Agent: Ask Around.

Word of mouth recommendation rarely fails.

 Interrogate family friends, colleagues or neighbours about their experiences – you know, straight from the horses’ mouth as it were.

Ask what their experiences were like, how they were treated, what level of feedback did they receive what was the whole experience like and let’s not forget – how successful were they in selling their house?

Top Tip No 2 in Choosing the Right Estate Agent: Ask Your Conveyancing Solicitor

Not perhaps an obvious one but remember your Conveyancing Solicitor will have had dealings with all the local Estate Agents.

Your Conveyancing Solicitor will also be able to give you an indication of what fees you should agree. Blimey! Estate Agents are very good at telling people what your Solicitor should be charging you for Conveyancing fees.

And no, your Conveyancing solicitor won’t charge for his time and  advice.

Top Tip No 3 in Choosing the Right Estate: Get Three Valuations

We think 3 valuations (or Market Appraisals, it’s posher) should be enough to get an idea at what price your property should be marketed.

If you get three valuations you’ll smooth out any anomalies between the top price and lowest price.

BUT BEWARE: Some Estate Agents (not normally the better ones) will try and bamboozle you with the highest valuation to gain the instruction to sell your property. Appeal to your vanity and all that.

The theory goes that so long as they’ve tied you up with a long contractual Estate Agency agreement that if it doesn’t sell reasonably quickly – well what’s not to like? They’ll have your property long enough that you will eventually drop your price to a more market accurate price.

Getting the price as right as possible at the beginning also avoids your property “sticking” and eventually going “stale”. Potential buyers can use the internet to calculate how long a property has been on the market and adjust any offers they may make accordingly.

Top Tip No 4 in Choosing the Right Estate Agent:  “Horses for Courses”

As we said before, not all Estate Agents are the same, some will specialise in particular types of property e.g. top of the market, rural market or middle market and first and second time buyer homes.

Look around for “For Sale” boards in your area and if you see several from one Estate Agency it would be a reasonable assumption to make that they make be “up your street”: literally and metaphorically!

When you’ve made your decision upon which Estate Agents to call to arrange an appointment they’re a few questions you should have in readiness to help you make a better choice of Estate Agent.

Top Tip No 5 in Choosing the Right Estate Agent: “Question 1: Your time starts now...”

Don’t be afraid to ask searching questions about the Estate Agent’s competence.

Any Estate Agent worth his or her salt will be more than happy to demonstrate their track record and their expertise.

So here goes:

  • Ask your Estate Agent how many similar properties have they have sold in the last 6 months and what percentage of the asking price did they achieve (at or as close to 100% would be the best answer)
  •  What information have they based their valuation on and what proof do they have
  • Will they accompany all viewings, and in the evenings and at weekends
  • What’s included in their fee; does it include all advertising costs and brochure costs
  • Where will your property be advertised and on what portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla, Primelocation and the new kid on the block OnTheMarket.
  • Ask your Estate Agent as well for a “priced to sell” valuation as well as what your Estate Agent expects to achieve.
  • Ask how often feedback on the marketing of your property will happen? Will you be forgotten id nothing exciting is happening with your house or flat?
  • How will your Estate Agent qualify any potential buyers and any chain into which you will be placed? N.B. Sales can fall through after agreement on price but the best Estate Agents will have a very small failure or dropout rate because of rigour testing before recommending a Buyer and an active “sales progression” team smoothing over the bumps once a sale has been agreed.

Remember, your Estate Agent wants to create buzz for your property, so attracting more than one interested buyer can lead to a small scale (or large) bidding war – in your favour.

Top Tip No 6 in Choosing the Right Estate Agent: Negotiate Your Estate Agents Fees

Estate Agents fees are negotiable, but remember you are dealing with (or should be dealing with) an expert negotiator, so it won’t be easy.

If your Estate Agent drops his fees too quickly, consider how well he or she would be able to convince a Buyer that your property was correctly priced.

Top Tip No 7 in Choosing the Right Estate Agent: What type of Estate Agency Agreement?

There are essentially three types of Estate Agency Agreement if you are using a High Street Estate Agent. 

  • Sole Agency Agreement:

This is the most common and works for both parties best. You get total commitment from your Estate Agent, the fees will be the lowest and you only pay the one fee if a sale is agreed and completed

  • Joint Agency Agreement:

This can work well if you have a property, which would benefit, from both local exposure and national exposure. The downside will be a higher fee as the Estate Agents split the fee

  • Multi Agency:

The most expensive (as only one Estate Agent will get paid) and tends to be the      marketing of last resort. And, it does bring with               it a hint of desperation.

Top Tip No 8 in Choosing the Right Estate Agent: The Small Print

As Conveyancing Solicitors we ought to give some advice (general advice  you understand- speak to your own Conveyancing Solicitor for specific Advice-we’re only trying to help) about the Estate Agency Commission Agreement.

You should resist too long an agreement. 

6 weeks should be enough for you to gauge how good your Estate Agent is. You can then extend it by one or two weeks’ notice but importantly you remain in control. 

The average time to sell a property is as long as the piece of string in your pocket. You may be lucky and have more than one buyer banging on your door (by appointment obviously) to view. General statistics will show that it takes some 10 weeks with 8- 10 viewers depending on the type of market conditions at the time to agree a sale.

An agency period of 12 weeks should suffice (that’s 10 weeks and 2 weeks’ notice)

Also be wary of a Sole Selling Agreement which differs from a Sole Agency in that a fee is payable however the sale is achieved e.g. even if a Buyer had not been introduced by the Estate Agent.

Top Tip No 9 in Choosing the Right Estate Agent: Estate Agents Who Push Their Conveyancing Down Your Throat

Corporate Estate Agents (as opposed to Independent Agents) are the main culprits.

Corporate Estate Agents either have a sister company which carries out Conveyancing (I call them factory Conveyancers) or are paid £100s of pounds in referral fees by third party panel managers who then pass on the referral to their pet Law Firm.

If your referred Conveyancers are many if not hundreds of miles away (or in another country) then this is likely to be the case.

Local Independent Estate Agents working with local Conveyancing Solicitors is a well-trodden and largely successful path to as stress free a move as possible especially when things can go wrong as they sometimes do. Easy and proactive communication is vital.

But, hey ho, you can make your own mind up just don’t be bullied by your Estate Agent into signing up for their Conveyancers without doing a little more detective work yourself. 

Go on to the Internet and checking out websites and importantly any complaints or grumbles. Check a few Google Reviews for example. See if you like the cut of their jib.

Top Tip No 10 in Choosing the Right Estate Agent: What About Online Estate Agency?

I’ve kept this one to the last as Online Estate Agency is still in its infancy.

The main difference is a lower fee but whereas with traditional High Street Estate Agents you pay on a “no sale no fee” basis normally there will be an upfront payment to an online Estate Agency. 

And if you’re a fan of “popping in” to see your Estate Agent – well you can’t.

Bonus Tip

And finally, if you need a Conveyancing Quotation for your move or you’re just in the early stages and want to get an idea of a budget for the legal fees use our free online Conveyancing Calculator by clicking below.

Happy Selling!

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2011 in our original series “Everything You Need to Know About Buying and Selling Your Home in 31 Bite-Sized Chunks” and has been completely revamped and updated.

Need To Budget For Your Legal Fees?

Paul Hajek

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