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What Does an Estate Agent Do?


Written by Reviewed by Carol O'Leary

19th Feb 2020 (Last updated on 18th Apr 2024) 10 minute read

You will need help from an estate agent when it comes to selling your home. An estate agent will be responsible for valuing your home, marketing your home, negotiating offers and keeping the selling process moving.

Whether you choose an online or high street estate agent to do the job, they will use their expert experience and local knowledge to sell your house to its full potential.

In this guide, Compare My Move list the ways in which estate agents guide you through the selling a house process.

  1. Value Your Home
  2. Market Your Home
  3. Arrange Viewings With Potential Buyers
  4. Help You With Negotiations
  5. Check The Buyer Can Afford Your Home
  6. Keep The Process Moving
  7. How to Choose an Estate Agent
  8. Online Estate Agent vs High Street Agent
  9. Before Instructing Your Estate Agent
  10. How to Deal With Estate Agents When Selling Your Home
  11. Things To Watch Out For When Working With an Estate Agent
  12. Save on Selling Your House With Compare My Move

Value Your Home

The first thing your estate agent will do is help you set the value of your home. They will use their knowledge of the local property market to provide an accurate property valuation, comparing the average sold house prices in your area. If you’re using an online estate agent, you should compare valuations from a few other high street estate agents, as online agents typically lack local property market knowledge.

Your buyer will get a property survey on your home that will highlight any issues with the house, they can then use this to negotiate a lower offer. As a seller, you can get your own property survey conducted from a RICS registered surveyor, whether it’s a Level 2 (homebuyer survey) or Level 3 (building survey), to give you a second opinion.

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Market Your Home

Your estate agent will also be responsible for marketing your home. This will include taking photographs, creating a listing and using a detailed description. The marketing is normally included in an estate agent’s fee, but some online estate agents might not include these services.

In addition to a standard marketing service, you can pay an extra cost to have a premium listing on property websites like Rightmove and Zoopla. With around 90% of buyers searching for their next home online, it could potentially be a worthy investment. For some properties, it may even be useful to advertise in specific magazines - for example, Country Life is perfect for advertising in rural areas. This is likely to incur an additional cost, but the agent will guide you on whether this is necessary.

It’s important to remember that before you market your home, it’s a legal requirement to get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The certificate needs to be available to buyers to give them peace of mind about the property.

Arrange Viewings With Potential Buyers

Your estate agent will be responsible for conducting house viewings, so you should prepare your property for sale in advance. The viewing is where a potential buyer will see your house for the first time, so keep in mind that first impressions count. Research from The Advisory claims that it takes an average of 10 viewings to sell your house, meaning the more prepared you are, the fewer viewings it should take before you receive an offer.

You could argue that house viewings are estate agents’ most important job, as they’re responsible for showing buyers how great your house is. By letting an experienced estate agent offer a professional house viewing, you have the peace of mind that they will showcase your home to its full potential. But don’t forget, you will also have to aid in the process by preparing your property for the viewings yourself. Speak to the agent before doing so, so you know what quick, buyer-friendly improvements can be made.

Help You With Negotiations

Once your first offer comes in, your estate agent will be responsible for managing offer negotiations. They will pass the offer to you for consideration, then will negotiate, decline or accept an offer on your behalf. They are responsible for making you aware of offers, counter-offers and rejected offers from the buyer.

Whilst you make the final decision on the offer, your estate agent can provide their expert opinion and give professional advice. An offer is just an offer, it’s not final and there’s always room to negotiate. Don’t feel pressured into accepting the first offer you receive.

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Check The Buyer Can Afford Your Home

An estate agent is obliged by law to run checks to ensure the buyer is serious about purchasing your property. They will check they have the appropriate funds in place to buy your home.

They will check the buyer has a mortgage or mortgage in principle in place to successfully go ahead with the sale. If they are a cash buyer, they will ask to see the source of the deposit. Checking the buyer can go ahead with the sale is something that would be difficult to do without an estate agent’s help.

Keep The Process Moving

From valuing your house to negotiating offers, your estate agent will be responsible for speeding up the process of selling your house. They will liaise with your conveyancer or solicitor once you’ve accepted an offer on your house which will then help with communication throughout the property chain, keeping things moving.

A good estate agent will help you make sure the sale goes through, using their expert knowledge with negotiating and counter-offering. Your estate agent should ensure the offer goes forward and should stay on top of things for a smooth process.

Using an SRA, CLC, LSNI, LSS or CILEx accredited conveyancer from Compare My Move’s network of verified partners will give you peace of mind that they will communicate efficiently and effectively with your estate agent.

How to Choose an Estate Agent

Choosing the right estate agent will give you peace of mind throughout the selling process. You should take the time to pick a reputable agent and ensure they can help with your specific requirements. Research from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy shows that a good reputation, being local and low fees are the main three reasons people choose an estate agent. We’ve listed the main things to look out for when finding an estate agent below.

What Accreditations Do They Have

The first sign of a reputable estate agent will be their accreditations. Check they have an association with the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), and/or Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA).

All estate agents must be members of a redress scheme, which will act as an arbitrator if there is a dispute, and has the power to order compensation if the agent is found to be in the wrong. The two approved redress schemes are The Property Ombudsman (TPO) and the Property Redress Scheme (PRS). Each agent must be a member of one of these schemes.


Ask friends and family who have recently sold their house if they can recommend you a dependable and professional estate agent. People usually recommend an agent if they genuinely trust them and had a good experience with them.

Read Reviews

Look at the estate agent’s reviews on their website and third-party review websites such as allAgents. By checking out their reviews beforehand, you’ll learn of any red flags such as unprofessional behaviour or conduct. However, there has been criticism of some review services, and there are suggestions that some estate agents have ‘gamed’ the reviews to ensure responses show them in the best possible light.

What's Their Selling History?

Do your research and find out your desired estate agent’s selling history. Do they sell for the asking price, how long does it take them to sell a property and do they have experience selling a house similar to yours? Be wary if they have a habit of selling for a lot less than the asking price. Don't be afraid to ask your estate agent any questions you may have about their history, work ethic, whatever it is you need clarified.

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Online Estate Agent vs High Street Agent

Many sellers prefer to use a traditional estate agent, with 83% of people selling their homes via a high street estate agent, according to previous research. Only 5% of sellers chose to use an online estate agent, with the majority of these being younger sellers.

Online estate agents will list your property on their own website and on portals like Rightmove and Zoopla. They won’t have a local branch and usually don’t include an agent based in the locality, that’s why they can offer a much lower fee than traditional agents. Their low fees won’t include the standard service you get with a high street agent, so selling your house online will mean having to do more work to keep the selling process moving. Online estate agents will lack local property market knowledge, which will be a problem when it comes to valuations.

High street estate agents will include a full service in their fee, giving you peace of mind that the whole process is in their hands. Although their commission fees are more expensive than online agencies, traditional estate agents have good connections with local conveyancers. This can help speed up the process and ensure better communication throughout the chain.

Before Instructing Your Estate Agent

By instructing your estate agent, they will put your house up for sale and begin the marketing process. Before you officially instruct them, you should have found a conveyancer or solicitor to help with the legal side of selling your home. If you inform them in advance of putting your house up for sale, they can gather all the documents ready for when you’ve accepted an offer.

By letting your conveyancer know they’ll be needed soon, it’ll help to speed up the process, avoiding any delays. It’ll allow them to successfully liaise with your estate agent, too.

How to Deal With Estate Agents When Selling Your Home

Make sure you get a number of different valuations on your home from at least 3 different estate agents. This will help with your research and ensure the agent you choose is reliable and experienced.

One of the biggest tips for dealing with an estate agent when selling is to keep an open line of communication. It would be wise to keep in touch regularly and to ask as many questions as possible should you have any queries or concerns. For added peace of mind, you could also document any conversations you have with them and make notes to help you further down the line.

Don’t forget that the estate agent works for you. You should be kept up-to-date regularly and be fully aware of how and where your home will be marketed. Don’t be afraid to ask to see the adverts created and to find out how they will be handling any future viewings.

Remember that it is possible to cancel your contract with an agent should you wish to work with someone else or take your home off the market. If the worst should happen, you can even contact The Property Ombudsman should you wish to complain.

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Things To Watch Out For When Working With an Estate Agent

Many estate agents will work closely with both conveyancers and mortgage lenders. It’s common for your estate agent to suggest you use these services, too. Whilst it may seem ideal to have everything in one package, you should take a step back and do your own research first.

Estate agents will earn a commission if you use one of their recommendations. Many people are concerned that this leads the agent to not have the seller in their best interests. Whilst this isn’t always the case, you should still compare mortgage lenders and conveyancers before buying in-house services from your estate agent.

Agents should not give priority treatment to buyers who use their recommended referrals, like conveyancers or mortgage firms. If you believe this is happening and you’re disadvantaged as a result, you can complain about an estate agent to a redress service or to your local councils’ trading standards team. There is also the option of cancelling the estate agent contract, but you may incur a fee for doing so.

Save on Selling Your House With Compare My Move

Before you instruct an estate agent, you should compare conveyancers with Compare My Move so you’re prepared. We can also connect you with verified surveyors and removal companies to ensure a smooth moving process.

We carry out a strict verification process with every partner, giving you peace of mind that you’re in good hands. We’ll even help you save up to 70% on the cost of moving house, too.

Carol O'Leary

Reviewed by Carol O'Leary

Director, Thursfields Solicitors

Carol O’Leary has over 20 years of experience in the conveyancing industry and is the new Director of Thursfields Solicitors.