9 tips on how to find the best estate agent

Choosing an estate agent is important…

but how do you separate the good agents from the bad? Here’s 9 tips on choosing the best estate agent near you.

1. Select a shortlist of local estate agents

When it comes to choosing the best estate agents, it helps if you can shortlist your options to three. Use the list below to help you draw up a shortlist, then invite the handful of estate agents round to do a valuation.

  • Ask family, friends and neighbours – it’s always good to have a personal recommendation. Here at Open House Estate Agents in Stafford, most of our instructions come as a result of personal recommendations from friends, family and neighbours.
  • Is it right to judge an estate agent on how quickly they sell your property? Perhaps yes. However, if you want the best price for your property you may have to wait a little while.
  • Judge an estate agent on how close to their valuation figure they achieve for you. To judge an estate agent on how close to the asking price they achieve. That way of judging
  • Make sure the agent has experience of selling property like yours. Check there are properties similar to yours on their website.
  • Look at the properties that the agent sells on Zoopla and Rightmove. Are the pictures well taken, and the descriptions clear and relevant?
  • Do not feel pressured to hire the estate agent you bought your house from. Obviously, if you were impressed by how they sold your house to you, you might decide to go with them again
  • What is their viewing policy? Check they will offer to accompany potential buyers when arranging viewings whilst you are out.
  • Find out about their standard terms & conditions, particularly what is their standard commission rate and typical tie in period before you can break the contract if you are unhappy with them?

2. How to select the right estate agent?

selecting the right estate agent for you

When the estate agents come round for a valuation, it’s a good opportunity for you to ask them some further questions to help find the right one to sell your home. You should ask:

  • What is their reasoning behind the value they’ve given your property?
  • Are they members of an accredited independent ombudsman service? Either the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme
  • Will details of your property be shared with their colleagues? It’s good if more than one person in the office can talk enthusiastically and with knowledge about your property
  • What would they do if your property was not selling as well as expected?
  • Are they open at weekends? A surprising number of agents only work during the week, and perhaps do half day on Saturday, which means they are less accessible to potential buyers. Open House Stafford open from 9am to 4pm on a Saturday and also offer a 24 hour, 365 day a year call answering service out of office hours.

3. Be wary of over valuations

Agents know that one of the main reasons people pick them is the valuation they give. They take two general approaches:

  • Some agents give deliberately optimistic valuations, to make you think you can get a higher price with them, and then try and talk you down after you have chosen them
  • Open House Stafford and Stone believe in giving a realistic price, and will tell you not to be fooled by falsely high valuations

Open House Estate Agents in Stafford will come armed with evidence of local sold prices to support our valuation. Do some research yourself but make sure you use something like our free valuation tool so you’re also armed with some knowledge about what your home should be worth.

It’s always advisable to take the advice of the estate agent, but it’s worth noting that it is you and not the agent who decides what price to put the property on at.

4. How much do estate agents cost?

In terms of fees, overwhelmingly, estate agents charge a percentage fee, which can be anywhere between 0.75% and 3.0%+VAT of the agreed selling price for your home depending on the type of contract you opt for with your estate agent.

Make sure your agent quotes the selling fee including VAT. 20% (the current VAT rate) added on can make a huge difference to the total cost

Make sure you understand all about estate agents fees before you make a decision.

Here at Open House Estate Agents in Stafford, we use a fixed fee model of £998 including VAT. That is offered on a no sale no fee basis. So book your free valuation now

5. How will they advertise your property?

One of the most important factors that will influence which estate agent you choose is how they plan to market your property. You need to understand what their plans are and be comfortable with their approach. Ask them:

  • Which portals are they using? It is the big property portals you want to be listed on: Zoopla, Rightmove and Primelocation, and the relatively new OnTheMarket
  • Do they advertise in local papers or magazines? Open House believe that traditional estate agents will not get the full cost benefit of this type of marketing due to the lower readership. Not enough ‘Bang For Buck’ so to speak. Nowadays we believe people use the property portals more than looking in newspapers
  • Will your property feature in their window? For how long?

6. Are there any downsides to using an online estate agent?

Online estate agents are much cheaper than conventional high street estate agents. But you pay this cheaper a fixed fee upfront and they vary in terms of what packages and prices they offer.

But don’t forget, cheap is not always the best. Open House Estate Agents in Stafford believe that its more about value for money. We believe its not only about giving the vendor a very competitive sale price but also excellent service as well.

Online estate agents all have essentially the same marketing approach, which is to advertise your house online on websites like Zoopla, Rightmove, Primelocation. Some will also use national newspapers..

7. Traps to watch out for in the estate agent contract

Traps to watch out for in the estate agent contract

When you hire an agent, you will be bound by their terms and conditions, so it’s important to understand what to watch out for with estate agents’ contracts. Some of the biggest things to be careful of include:

  • Will you have to pay extra for marketing and other costs, such as preparing the property details or For Sale boards? Try to get a fee that includes all these expenses
  • Do they insist on “sole selling rights”? If so, it means that even if you find a buyer yourself, you still have to pay the agent their fee. Open House Estate Agents in Stafford will not charge you if you find a seller yourself.
  • Are you paying commission when they sell the property, or if they find a “ready, willing and able purchaser”? The latter would mean you still have to pay the agent a fee even if the sale falls through because you have had to pull out – such as if you lost your job. You should only use an agent who expects a fee as a result of exchange of contracts.

8. How to sell your house without an estate agent in the UK

You don’t have to hire an estate agent, it is possible you can sell your home yourself. This has become even easier as more and more websites pop-up allowing you to list your home and market it to potential buyers.

It’s worth noting that these websites won’t be allowed to market your house on the big property portals, so exposure to potential buyers will be limited.

If you can sell you home for the right price this way, you will save a lot of money.

But beware that not getting the best price for your home can be much more costly than paying an agent. £5,000 off a £200,000 home may not seem like much but will completely erase any savings from not using an agent.

It’s also important to understand that you can’t list yourself directly on Zoopla, Rightmove and Prime Location.

They don’t take private listings, so you will need an estate agent, whether online, hybrid or high street, if you want to maximise exposure of your home to possible buyers.

9. Choosing a sole or multiple agent

A  decision you may to make is about how many estate agents you should use.

Clearly, if you are going for a multiple agency agreement, then you can just put your property on with any agent you like, and you don’t really have to choose between them.

Open House Estate Agents in Stafford believe that you only really need one estate agent doing the job well. Otherwise its just a duplication of marketing.

Final thoughts when choosing an estate agent

Make sure you get along with your estate agent, and that you trust them.

They will be the first point of contact for any potential buyers, so you need to make sure that they will represent you and your property well.

Remember to read the contract carefully and check your sole agency tie in period and required notice period. If you don’t understand something, ask.