How to Find the Best Estate Agents

What makes a good estate agent?

Finding the right estate agent is essential when you’re selling your house. But this is often easier said than done.

With the number of estate agents now offering their services in person and online, it can be difficult to pick just one. But knowing what to look for when choosing an estate agent can make the process easier.

Some of the best qualities to look out for include:

  • Enthusiasm
    The level of enthusiasm an estate agent has when viewing your home for the first time should give you a good indication of how committed they will be to selling it. Try to bear this in mind when you invite each agent for an initial valuation meeting.
  • Proactivity
    A proactive estate agent will effectively market your property, arrange viewings and chase up any offers. Take a look at the marketing they’ve done for other properties, and ask them how they intend to sell your home.
  • Reputation
    You should make sure that any estate agent you choose has a good track record. Ask around to see if anyone you know has used the company before, or check online reviews before making your choice.

Most importantly, you should get a positive feeling when speaking to a good estate agent. If you leave your first meeting feeling unsure, or like you’ve been cornered into considering a lower asking price than you’d like, they might not be the right agent for you.

How to choose an estate agent

We’d suggest narrowing down your list of potential estate agents to three main contenders. Then consider arranging a valuation meeting with each of these agencies.

Remember that some estate agents will try to win you over with a high valuation, only to reduce the property’s asking price later on after receiving limited interest. So while it may be tempting to choose the estate agent that gives the highest valuation, you shouldn’t base your decision on this alone.

Some other factors to consider include:

  • How often they achieve offers that match a property’s asking price
  • How they conduct viewings – will they accompany potential buyers when you’re not in?
  • How they’ll market your home – do they use Rightmove or Zoopla? Will you be featured in their shop window?
  • Where they are located – if they’re nearby, they’ll likely have a much greater knowledge of your area
  • Whether they are members of an independent ombudsman service

You should also check each agency’s terms and conditions before making a selection. Make sure to check:

  • If marketing costs are included
    Most agencies will cover the cost of professional photos and other marketing materials, but you should always double-check this to avoid getting an unexpected bill further down the line.
  • When commission will be paid
    Some estate agents will take commission when a property is sold, while others will take it as soon as they find a ‘ready, willing and able purchaser’. This means you could end up paying an agent fee, even if a sale doesn’t go through.
  • Whether they have sole selling rights
    If your estate agent has sole selling rights, it means that they will take an agent’s fee even if you find a seller yourself. If you do give an estate agent sole selling rights, it should only be on a short-term basis.

Should I use an online estate agent?

The major benefit to using an online estate agent is the financial saving you can make. Online agencies will usually charge a lower fixed fee than ‘traditional’ estate agents, which can be attractive to sellers.

Online agencies will support you in marketing your property, arranging viewings and providing buyer feedback. But there are some disadvantages to going down this route, including:

  • Less accurate valuations
    Local high street agents will know first-hand about the area your house is in, which means they are often better placed to provide a valuation. Online estate agents will typically use data and statistics to value your home, but this might not be as accurate.
  • The time commitment
    When using an online agency, you might have to carry out some of the tasks that an estate agent would normally do. This could include conducting viewings or chasing up buyers and negotiating a price.
  • Upfront costs
    Most online estate agents will ask for an upfront payment. This means that you could lose your money if you want to switch agents later on. Some online agencies do offer packages where you can pay on completion, but these tend to be more expensive.

If you do decide to go with an online estate agent, make sure to do extensive research. Check their reviews and more importantly, make sure that they are accredited by either the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.

Can I change estate agents?

We’ve looked at how to pick an estate agent, but how do you go about switching if you’re not happy? This will largely depend on the terms of your contract.

For instance, you might still be in what’s known as an exclusivity period. If this is the case, there won’t be much you can do for now. But you could start to plan for what you’ll do when your exclusivity period comes to an end.

If you need help with the legal side of a property sale, our conveyancing solicitors can help you. They are experienced in this area of law and will make sure that the process runs as efficiently as possible.

To find out how we could match you with a dedicated conveyancer or solicitor, give us a call or start your enquiry online.

Note: First4Lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances.


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