How to sell a house Estate agents and finding the best

Estate agent

Take time to research estate agents in your area

Although finding an agent that charges low fees is likely to be pretty high up your priorities, remember that cost is just one consideration. 

If you decide to use an estate agent you want to find one you are confident will handle all aspects of your house sale professionally and efficiently.

Research estate agents

It's really important to spend some time researching local agents. You should be looking for an agent that is experienced in selling property like yours - they will have a good pool of potential buyers and know what they are looking for in a property.

Look in the local newspaper or online, as well as driving or walking around your area to see what sort of properties are on sale and which agents are marketing them.

It's also a good idea to speak  to friends, family members or neighbours to see if they have used an agent they would recommend. 

Once you've identified the agents that have sold properties similar to yours, call into their offices. Firstly, visit as a buyer interested in properties like your own, so you can talk to the staff and see how happy you would be if they were selling your property.

Go further: Which? Local - this service allows you to find recommended estate agents in your area

Choosing the estate agent

Try to find three good agents as this gives you a good spread of views, and invite each to give you a property valuation. Although of course getting a good selling price will be top of your list, don't automatically go with the agent that offers you the highest valuation - they may be overvaluing your property in order to get your business. 

Make sure you check exactly what services they offer and whether you will have to pay extra for them, for example:

  • will they conduct viewings, or will you need to?
  • what marketing materials will they prepare? For example, floorplans, photographs or virtual online tours
  • where will they advertise? For example, newspapers, online property websites?
  • will they provide a 'for sale' board?

Know your rights: I don't want to use my estate agent anymore - How to end your contract with an estate agent

Estate agent charges

The type of estate agent contract you have will affect how much they charge you. Fees range from 1% to 2% of the selling price for ‘sole agency’ – i.e. you give one agent responsibility for selling your home, or from 1.5% to 2.5% to sell on a multiple agency basis (more than one agent is appointed to sell your home).

Agents will often quote their fees without VAT, so make sure you check whether you will need to pay an extra 20% on top.

Some agents offer a scaled-down service that is charged at a fixed price, which is payable upfront whether your property sells or not. This service usually includes producing property details, promoting your property online and sometimes – but not always – in the local newspaper.

Don’t forget - agents are negotiators, so try to negotiate their fees.

Go further: Estate agent contracts - a list of key points to understand  

Estate agent checklist

Other questions to think about asking an estate agent are:

  • How many similar properties have you sold? At what price?
  • How many viewings and how long did it take to sell the properties?
  • How many buyers are looking for properties like mine?
  • Are you a member of either the Property Ombudsman (formerly known as the Ombudsman for Estate Agents) or Ombudsman Services: Property? All estate agents must belong to one of these Office of Fair Trading-approved redress schemes. You can check on the schemes' websites as to whether an agent is a member.
  • What price would you market your property for? What house price would you expect me to get? What price would you value my home for a ‘quick sale’?
  • Can I have a copy of the agency's contract?

Know your rights: Can I instruct more than estate agent at the same time? - our guide explains all

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