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Questions to Ask Estate Agents When Selling

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

19th Feb 2020 (Last updated on 30th Aug 2022) 9 minute read

It's important to know what questions to ask an estate agent when selling. There are so many things you need to be aware of and asking your estate agents the right questions is vital.

You need to know what your estate agent is offering and how much it’ll cost to sell your home before you sign a contract with them. Fees and contracts can vary, and you'll want to ensure the company is the right fit for you.

In this guide, Compare My Move features the best questions to ask an estate agent when selling a property.

Questions to Ask Estate Agents
  1. 1. What Are Your Accreditations?
  2. 2. How Much Are Your Estate Agent Fees?
  3. 3. Are There Additional Costs?
  4. 4. What is the Value of my Home?
  5. 5. Do I Have to Pay Estate Agent Fees if I Decide Not to Sell in the UK?
  6. 6. What Kind of Contract Do You Use?
  7. 7. What’s Your Tie-in Period?
  8. 8. How Will You Advertise My Property?
  9. 9. Have You Sold Similar Properties in the Area?
  10. 10. Will You Conduct the Viewings?
  11. 11. How Long Will It Take To Sell My House?
  12. 12. What Happens If We Disagree on Something?

1. What Are Your Accreditations?

The first thing you should know about estate agents is their accreditations and memberships. All estate agents need to be regulated by the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

They must be a member of a redress scheme - either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme. Being a part of these schemes is important because it ensures you will be treated fairly. If any issues arise, you're able to contact these companies to discuss things further.

Estate agents can be voluntary members of Propertymark. This company was formed in 2017. It includes associations such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and the Association of Residential Letting Agents.

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2. How Much Are Your Estate Agent Fees?

Before agreeing to sell your home with an estate agent, you need to have a clear idea of how much they charge. This needs to be factored into the costs of selling a house. All estate agents are required by law to list their fees with VAT included clearly.

Traditional estate agents charge a commission fee of the final sale price. The average high-street estate agent fee is 1.18% plus VAT of the final sale price, data from The Advisory reports. Many agents vary between 1-3%. Any estate agent charging under 1% or over 3% should be considered a red flag.

Online estate agents charge a fixed-price, regardless of the price your house sells for. The average online estate agent fee is between £300-£1,500 and usually must be paid upfront. This is something to keep in mind if you decide to sell your house online.

You will want to ask the estate agents when their fees are due so you can prepare for this. Payment is usually taken after the property sale has been completed. Some may ask for the fees upfront.

3. Are There Additional Costs?

It’s important to receive a full breakdown of what's included in your estate agent's fees before you sign a contract.

Most high street estate agents include the full marketing service in their commission fee. Online estate agents often charge extra for services. This includes creating a listing, photographs and advertising. This is why they initially have cheaper fees

If you want to further advertise your house, you can pay your agent to create a featured premium listing of the property. This will appear on Rightmove or Zoopla. This will showcase your property on the first page of results, as a sponsored post. The cost of this will vary.

4. What is the Value of my Home?

Before selling your home, ask estate agents to conduct a price evaluation. This will make you aware of how much your home is worth.

An experienced and reliable estate agent will be honest and open about the value of your home. There are many factors they base their figures on, from the type and size of the home to the area in which it's situated.

In regards to estate agent valuation reports, these are typically free to conduct. Even so, you should always double-check before booking one.

While it's useful to market the home at the suggested price, you don't have to take the advice given to you by the estate agents. It's useful to receive more than one report to compare the suggestions given.

5. Do I Have to Pay Estate Agent Fees if I Decide Not to Sell in the UK?

If you pull out of the sale, you will be charged to cover the costs of advertising and any of the services your estate agent has already carried out. However, you won’t have to pay their commission fee as the sale didn’t go ahead.

If you signed a ready, willing and able purchase contract, then you must pay some or all the estate agent’s commission fee. Always read the small print in your contract before committing to it.

6. What Kind of Contract Do You Use?

It's crucial to know the types of contracts estate agents offer. This will help you know your rights when it comes to selling your house. You need to be careful to ensure you choose the right contract.

There are 5 main types of contracts to consider:

Sole Agency

A sole agency agreement means only the chosen estate agent can sell your home. You won’t have to pay a fee if you find your own buyer, but the estate agents can still earn a commission from this.

This contract usually comes with a cheaper fee than multi-agency. Research shows it's the most popular choice, with 94% of sellers choosing a sole agency contract.

Multi-Agency

A multi-agency contract allows you to use more than one estate agent to sell your house. With this contract, you only pay the estate agent that gets the sale through.

The fee is usually higher than a sole agency contract but gives you more freedom.

Sole Selling Rights

A sole selling rights contract differs from a sole agency agreement. Only one estate agent can sell your house. You will be expected to pay the estate agent even if you end up finding a buyer privately.

Joint Sole Agency Agreement

A Joint Sole Agency Agreement allows you to use more than one estate agent to place the property on sale. This provides your home with as much exposure as possible.

When one estate agent finds a buyer, the fees are split between the estate agents involved regardless of who was successful.

Ready, Willing and Able Purchaser

This contract means you have to pay your estate agent when they find a buyer, even if you don’t go ahead with the sale. It isn’t a recommended option to choose given this.

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7. What’s Your Tie-in Period?

An estate agent tie-in period is a fixed amount of time you must remain with your estate agent. This is more challenging if you have a disagreement with your agent or want to sell your house elsewhere. In this instance, you will have to pay fees to leave the contract.

You should know the estate agent’s tie-in period before agreeing to the contract. This will avoid a negative selling experience.

Tie-in periods are commonly set between 4 and 12 weeks, you should be concerned if an estate agent has a tie-in period of over 12 weeks.

Government data shows that sellers with experience negotiated fees and the length of their contract. 47% said they negotiated the terms of their contract.

8. How Will You Advertise My Property?

Most high-street estate agents include a full marketing service in their fee. Ask your estate agent before signing a contract what they include in their marketing service.

You may find that some estate agents charge extra for services others offer for free. A typical estate agent marketing service includes:

  • Creating a listing
  • A detailed description
  • Professional photographs
  • Floor plans of the property
  • A ‘for sale' signboard
  • A listing on Rightmove or Zoopla

A small number of agents offer additional hi-tech options. These include videos of the property or even virtual reality representations. These may incur extra charges.

OnTheMarket is a great website for your home to be featured on as it receives a high volume of traffic. You can ask estate agents if they use this website.

Featuring the property online is so important in today's market. Not only is it convenient, but it allows the marketing of the property to reach far more people. Knowing where your property will be listed is important.

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9. Have You Sold Similar Properties in the Area?

It’s worth asking about the estate agent's experience in your local area and whether they’ve previously sold properties similar to yours. The more experience they have, the more beneficial this will be for you.

Working with local agents can be a great advantage. Not only will they have vital knowledge of the market, but they may already have a list of potential buyers in the area.

If the estate agents have sold properties like yours it can give you a better idea of the potential timeline of your sale. It will also give you a better perspective on current competition.

10. Will You Conduct the Viewings?

Many buyers will view many properties before making an offer on a house. This is why carrying out in-depth viewings is so important.

Most high-street estate agents will want to conduct the property viewings themselves. This allows them to speak to the potential buyers in person and market the home appropriately.

Estate agents are vital during the negotiation process. It’s often helpful for them to start some kind of relationship with the buyer through the viewings.

It’s important to note that some online estate agents will need you to conduct the viewings, especially if they’re not based locally.

11. How Long Will It Take To Sell My House?

Ask your estate agent about their selling history. Find out their average time it takes to sell a house, especially a property with a similar size and features to yours. This will give you a guideline of how long to expect your sale to take.

According to The Advisory, here are the top factors in selling a home quickly:

  • The price you value your home
  • The current property market
  • The quality of your conveyancer

To speed up the sale of your house, we recommend hiring a verified conveyancer to help liaise with your estate agent. You will also want to ensure your home has been prepared for sale.

It's useful to ask your estate agents if now is a good time to sell. This will give you a better sign of how well the marketing will go.

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12. What Happens If We Disagree on Something?

While your estate agents are there to guide you through the process and are experts in their field, you may disagree with them in some instances.

If you disagree with them on the sale price, remember you should be comparing at least three estate agents’ valuations. If don't agree with their advice for negotiations, the final decision is yours to make.

You can pull out of the sale or change estate agents if the disagreement can’t be worked out. However, you still might have to pay a fee if your contract says so. If the situation worsens, you can pass your complaint to The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.

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Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

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.