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How to Choose an Estate Agent When Selling Your Property

Adele MacGregor

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

12th May 2020 (Last updated on 12th Aug 2022) 7 minute read

When it comes to selling your property, you will need to choose an estate agent. This is one of the most important decisions as your estate agent will value and market the property.

Knowing how to choose an estate agent will ensure that you are prepared for the sale of your property. They will represent both you and your home, so it's important to take the time to research.

At Compare My Move, we work with property experts to review all aspects of choosing an estate agent. We aim to give you everything you need to help you decide who to sell your house with.

This article will cover the following:
  1. 1. Deciding Between a Traditional or Online Agent
  2. 2. Do Your Research
  3. 3. Sole or Multiple Agents?
  4. 4. Create a Shortlist to Value Your Home
  5. 5. Prepare Questions
  6. 6. Read the Contract
  7. 7. Monitor Their Performance
  8. Next Steps of Selling a House

1. Deciding Between a Traditional or Online Agent

The first thing you need to think about is whether you want to use a traditional or online estate agent. Traditional estate agents operate from brick-and-mortar shops, while online estate agents work online.

There are pros and cons to each choice and knowing the difference between them will help you to decide which option is best for you.

Traditional Estate Agents

The vast majority of sellers like to opt for traditional estate agents, often known as high street estate agents. They may be a branch of a larger nationwide company, or perhaps they work solely in your local area.

Here are the pros:

  • They will have knowledge of the local area and the local property market
  • They will advertise the property in their shops, in local newspapers, their website, and property portals
  • They will handle viewings and deal with offers from buyers

Here are the cons:

  • Their commission fees tend to be more expensive

Online Estate Agents

As the name suggests, online estate agents work solely online. While this option is not as popular as traditional estate agents, there is a growing market for online estate agents.

Here are the pros:

  • They are cheaper than traditional estate agents as they offer fixed-fees
  • They are convenient for those who live in areas that don’t have a lot of traditional estate agent options
  • Sellers may be able to hire multiple agents thanks to the lower cost

Here are the cons:

  • They may not have knowledge of the local area or local property market
  • Sellers may have to provide photographs of the property, measure for their own floorplans, and handle viewings

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2. Do Your Research

Doing research into various estate agents will allow you to determine which one is best for you. The average cost of selling a house is £6,224, based on the average UK house price of £277,000. This means you want to make sure that your money is well spent.

A good place to start is by asking family, friends, and neighbours for recommendations. They will likely refer you to the best local estate agents. Looking around your area to see which estate agents are being used and reading reviews online is another good indicator. Browsing through local newspapers and property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla will help your research as well.

What Are Their Accreditations?

All estate agents need to have the necessary accreditation. They are regulated by the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

They must also be a member of The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme. Further voluntary accreditations include the Association of Residential Letting Agents and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

    3. Sole or Multiple Agents?

    Estate agents offer different types of contracts to suit your needs and requirements. There are four main types of contracts with some potentially being more beneficial to you and your circumstances.

    Here are the contracts that you will likely come across:

    • Sole Agency
    • Multi-Agency
    • Sole Selling Rights
    • Ready, Willing, and Able Purchaser

    Out of these four, Sole Agency and Multi-Agency are the most popular choices.

    Sole Agency

    With a Sole Agency Contract, you won’t have to pay a fee if you find your own buyer. With this type of contract, where there is a fee, it is usually a cheaper fee than a multi-agency.

    Multi-Agency

    This type of contract allows you to use multiple estate agents to see your house. In this case, you would only pay a fee to the estate agent who successfully sells your home. The fee for a Multi-Agency contract is higher but can give the seller more options.

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    4. Create a Shortlist to Value Your Home

    After you have done your research, narrow your list down to three estate agents. Invite them to give a market appraisal and valuation. This will give you an indication of how much your house is worth.

    The estate agent will visit your home and review both the interior and exterior of the property. They will then make a decision on the value of the home. They will take into consideration various factors such as the local market and demand for your property type and size.

    These valuations will play a vital role in your decision on which agents to opt for. You can also compare the service, market strategy, and valuation.

    Bear in mind that some estate agents may over-value your property. They do this to gain your business before reducing the price further down the line. This is why receiving valuations from several estate agents is essential so you can get an idea of your property's true value.

    5. Prepare Questions

    Having a list of questions for the estate agents will be beneficial for your search. You may also want to get an idea of their reputation via third-party reviews or by word of mouth if local. Preparing your questions will also show the estate agent that you have done the research and understand what to expect from them.

    Here are just a few questions that you should ask:

    1. What are your accreditations?
    2. How much are your fees?
    3. Are there additional costs?
    4. Do estate agents charge for valuations?
    5. What kind of contract do you use?
    6. What’s your tie-in period?
    7. What percentage of the asking price do you typically achieve?
    8. How will you advertise my property?
    9. Have you sold similar properties in the area?
    10. Will you conduct the viewings?
    11. How long will it take to sell my house?
    12. Can I sell my house privately after listing with an estate agent?
    13. Do I have to pay estate agent fees if I decide not to sell?
    14. What happens if we disagree on something?
    15. Do you pay estate agent fees when buying?

    By asking these questions, you’ll learn what to expect from the estate agent and the selling process. This includes the cost of selling and more knowledge of the local market.

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    6. Read the Contract

    Before making the final decision on an estate agent, make sure you know exactly what their service, contracts, and fees entail. Read the contract thoroughly and flag anything you are unsure of:

    • Be clear on what type of contract they are using
    • Are there any extra costs not included in the fee? If so, what for?
    • Have full clarity on the length of the agreement and “lock-in” period

    Make sure you trust your estate agent and have a good relationship with them. You want to feel confident that they will represent you and your property well. This is especially the case if they are the first point of contact for potential buyers.

    7. Monitor Their Performance

    Once you have chosen an estate agent to proceed with, be sure to monitor their performance. The average length of time it takes to sell a house is between 2 and 6 months. If your house is still on the market after this time, you should think about why it might not be selling.

    Look into the marketing strategy and how many viewings have taken place. Are they fulfilling what was agreed in the contract?

    This is also where the type of contract and fixed period comes into play. Those who opted for multi-agency contracts will benefit from working with several agencies. This means they will have more options available to them. Those working with a sole agency will have to wait until the fixed period comes to an end before switching.

    Next Steps of Selling a House

    This article has been part of our selling a house guide. We've put together a list of questions you could ask your estate agent before and during your time with them to help reassure you. To learn more read questions to ask your estate agent.

    Adele MacGregor

    Having written for PerformanceIN, WalesOnline, Grazia Magazine and The Olive Press, Adele now writes advice articles for home movers, first-time buyers and house sellers alike.

    Graham Norwood

    Reviewed by Graham Norwood

    Property Journalist and Editor,

    With over 15 years of experience in residential property journalism, Graham is currently the editor for both Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today.