How to find the best estate agent for you

9th November 2022
Home > News > How to find the best estate agent for you

Key takeaways

  • When looking for an agent, you'll want someone who can see all the best things about your home, just like you can
  • You’ll also want someone with plenty of experience when it comes to marketing properties like yours
  • Local agents can really help to sell a home because they’ll know an area inside out and can highlight all of its best bits to potential buyers

 

Your home has been loved, lived in, worked and played in for years. You may have invested a lot of money in it over that time. You may even have had your children while living there.

Someone who can show off all of your home's best assets, how filled with character or super slick it might be, or how the light pours into the kitchen when the world wakes up for that morning cuppa, is essential. 

Does it matter which estate agent you use?

In a word, yes. You want someone who can see all the best things about your home, just like you can.

You’ll also want someone with plenty of experience when it comes to marketing properties like yours.

Potential buyers will gravitate towards estate agents who sell the type of home they’re interested in, so you’ll need someone who knows your target audience.

If you’re looking to sell a mid-range family home, then a high street estate agent is likely to fit the bill.

If you own a high-end pad, you’ll need an agent with plenty of wealthy contacts.

Things to think about when looking for the right agent for you include: 

  • Do I have a good rapport with them?
  • Are they able to answer my questions?
  • Will they guide me through this process?
  • Do they seem confident they can sell it?
  • Does their valuation match up to what I thought?
  • Do they know the area well?
  • Have they sold similar houses to mine before?
  • Are they polite and respectful?
  • Will they care about my house the way that I do and sell its best features?

Discover your home’s value with an instant online estimate based on powerful market data

Is it best to use a local agent?

Yes. Local agents can really help to sell a home because they’ll know an area inside out and can highlight all of its best bits to potential buyers.

Someone who can talk about the best local latte provider or fry-up serving café, the best local schools, adventure playgrounds or gastropubs is going to go a long way with buyers.

They’re also likely to already have a good pool of potential buyers looking for a property just like yours already on their books.

Having sold similar homes in your neighbourhood, they’ll know precisely how to market yours.

Find a local agent on Zoopla

How do you evaluate an estate agent?

When choosing an estate agent, try to select a shortlist of three.

Get recommendations from friends, family and neighbours. If you liked the agents who sold your house to you, add them to your list too.

Invite the agents to your home and ask them for a valuation.

Find out:

  • The rate of commission 
  • All the terms of the contract 
  • How quickly these agents sell properties
  • If they usually achieve the asking price
  • If they have experience of selling a property like yours
  • Look at the agent’s details on Zoopla. Are the pictures clear? Are the descriptions useful and relevant? Do they include floor plans?
  • What’s their viewings policy? Will they always request an appointment and accompany viewers around your house? Do they do viewings at weekends?
  • What will they do if the property takes a while to sell?
  • Will your property’s details be shared with other agents at the office so that they can market it too?

 

Do I have to pay estate agent fees if I decide not to sell?

That depends on the contract you've signed with the agent. Make sure you check it thoroughly and ask questions if you're unsure of anything. 

Remember, the contract you sign is for a limited period only, so if you do wish to find your own buyer, or change agents, you can do so once the contract term has come to an end. 

The shortest tie-in period is usually six weeks. It’s good to avoid going over eight weeks.

Never sign an open-ended contract. The agent could be within their rights to claim commission on the sale of your home even if it doesn’t happen until years later. 

Generally, if your agent hasn’t managed to find a buyer during the term of the contract, then you won’t need to pay them anything. 

If an estate agent finds a buyer for you and you then pull out of the sale, they may be within their rights to ask you to cover the costs they’ve already incurred. 

If you’d agreed to pay the marketing costs for your property for example, for the photos and advertising, you would need to cover those.

Let’s take a look at the kind of contracts available with estate agents. 

Ready, willing and able purchaser

Do not accept this kind of contract. It means you have to pay the agent for finding a buyer, even if you decide not to sell. 

That could work out to quite a hefty sum as most agents charge a percentage of the property price as their commissioning fee. 

Sole selling rights

A sole selling rights contract means the estate agent is the only one allowed to sell your home. 

If you managed to find a buyer yourself during the contract term, you would still need to pay your estate agent’s commissioning fee.

Once the contract is ended, you’re free to find your own buyer then.

Multi-agency 

With a multi-agency contract, you can use as many agents as you like and only pay commission to the one who sells your property. 

Multi-agency contracts can be more expensive, but you’ll have more agents working for you, reaching more potential buyers. 

That could mean higher offers as competition for your home hots up. 

If you know your property is likely to be in demand, it could be a good strategy for a quicker sale.

Sole agency 

Sole agency is where you only list your home with one agency. 

But crucially, if you find your own buyer, you won’t have to pay the estate agent any fees. 

Can you take your house off the market after accepting an offer?

In short, yes. As long as you live in England or Wales, the contract isn’t legally binding until you reach the point of exchange.

That said, depending on the type of contract you signed with your estate agent, you may still need to pay their fees, as they have found a buyer for you.

In Scotland, the process is slightly different. A formal offer on a property is put forward by a solicitor, rather than an estate agent.

The seller's solicitor will then write a qualified acceptance letter. So, once your offer has been accepted, you can feel much more secure that the home will be yours.

The buyer's and seller's solicitors then enter into a process of negotiations with formal letters known as 'missives'.

Once the final acceptance letter has been issued, the missives are said to be concluded and the buyer and seller have entered into a legal contract.


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