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What Questions to Ask Estate Agents When Selling

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

19th Feb 2020 (Last updated on 19th Jun 2020) 8 minute read

Ensuring you ask your chosen estate agent the right questions before selling your home is vital. It’s important to know what your estate agent is offering and how much it’ll cost before you sign a contract with them. 

By finding out the estate agent’s accreditations, fees and contract type, you’ll have peace of mind that you’re in good hands. In this guide, Compare My Move list the best questions to ask an estate agent when selling a property

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Are Your Accreditations?
  2. How Much Are Your Fees?
  3. Are There Additional Costs?
  4. What Kind of Contract Do you Use?
  5. What’s Your Tie-in Period?
  6. How Do You Advertise My Property?
  7. How Long Will It Take To Sell My House?
  8. Can I Sell My House Privately After Listing With An Estate Agent?
  9. Do You Have to Pay Estate Agent Fees if I Pull Out?
  10. What Happens If We Disagree on Something?
  11. Do You Pay Estate Agent Fees When Buying?
  12. Save on Selling With Compare My Move

What Are Your Accreditations?

The first thing to learn about an estate agent is their accreditations and memberships. All estate agents are regulated by the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This will give you peace of mind that they're regulated and monitored expert. 

Additionally all estate agents must be a member of a redress scheme - either The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme. In addition, they may be voluntary members of the leading trade bodies - the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and/or the Association of Residential Letting Agents.

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How Much Are Your Fees?

Another important question to ask your estate agent is how much will they charge for their service. All estate agents, whether they’re an online, high-street or hybrid agent, are required by law to list their fees with VAT included. If any agent does not comply with this law, complain to a redress service or the local council trading standards team.

Traditional estate agents will charge a commission fee of the final sale price, though this can be negotiated. The average high-street estate agent fee is 1.18% plus VAT of the final sale price, The Advisory data reports, with many agents varying between 1-3%. This means that any estate agent charging under 1% or over 3% should be viewed as a red flag. 

You should remember to factor in estate agents fees to the total cost of selling a house

Online estate agents will charge a fixed-price, regardless of the price your house sells for. The average online estate agent fee is anywhere 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

Are There Additional Costs?

It’s important to get a full breakdown of what is included in your fee before you sign a contract, that way you’ll know if you need to factor in additional costs. Many high street estate agents will include the full marketing service in their commission fee, but a lot of online estate agents will charge you extra for services like creating a listing, photographs and advertising, hence the cheaper fees.  

If you want to further advertise your house, you can pay an additional fee to your estate agent to have a featured premium listing on property portals like Rightmove or Zoopla. This will showcase your property on the first page of results, as a sponsored post. 

What Kind of Contract Do you Use?

Finding out the type of contract your desired estate agent will offer will help you know your rights when it comes to selling your house. It will also indicate whether or not you can switch agents or cancel your contract. There are four main types of contracts, some will be more beneficial to your circumstances:

Sole Agency

If an estate agent is offering a sole agency contract, you won’t have to pay a fee if you end up finding your own buyer. This usually comes with a cheaper fee than a multi-agency, too. Research shows that 94% of sellers choose a sole agency contract.

Multi-Agency

A multi-agency contract allows you to use more than one estate agent to sell your house, but only paying 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 means that only one estate agent will be allowed to sell your house, not multiple agents. However, you will be expected to pay your estate agent if you end up finding a buyer privately.

Ready, Willing and Able Purchaser

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

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What’s Your Tie-in Period?

A tie-in period is a fixed amount of time you must stick with your estate agent. This becomes tricky if you have a disagreement with your estate agent or want to sell your house elsewhere as you will have to pay fees to leave the contract. 

It’s important to discover the estate agent’s tie-in period to 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 length of their contract, with 47% saying they negotiated the terms of their contract. 

How Do You Advertise My Property?

Most high-street estate agents will include a full marketing service in their fee. You should ask your estate agent prior to signing a contract what they include in their marketing service, as you may find that some estate agents might charge extra for services that are usually free. A typical estate agent marketing service includes:

  • Creating a listing
  • Detailed description
  • Professional photographs
  • Floor-plans of property
  • For sale signboard
  • A listing on Rightmove or Zoopla

A small number of agents offer additional hi-tech options such as videos of the property or even virtual reality representations. They may charge more for these.

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 should give you a rough guideline of how long to expect your sale to take and whether there may potentially be any delays in the sale.

A study shows that the top factors in how long it takes to sell a house are the price you value your home, the market and 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. 

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Can I Sell My House Privately After Listing With An Estate Agent?

If you choose a sole agency contract type, you can sell your house privately without paying a fee to your estate agent. This will allow you to list your property with an estate agent and have the opportunity to find a buyer on your own, without the worry of extra costs. 

Be careful not to confuse a sole agency contract with sole selling rights, as a sole selling rights contract means than you will have to pay the estate agent, even if you find your own buyer. 

Do You Have to Pay Estate Agent Fees if I Pull Out?

If you pull out of the sale, you will be charged to cover the costs of advertising and services your estate agent has already carried out for the sale. 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 of the estate agent’s commission fee. It’s vital you read the small print in your contract before committing to it. Even if you’re confident that the sale is going to go ahead, you should always prepare for the worst.

What Happens If We Disagree on Something?

Your estate agent is there to guide you through the sale of your house, helping you to negotiate offers and keep the process moving. They will have the knowledge and experience of the property market to make well-informed choices. If you do disagree with them on the sale price, remember you should be comparing at least three estate agent’s valuations. If you’re not sure on their advice for negotiations, remember the choice is ultimately yours.

You can pull out of the sale or change estate agents if the disagreement can’t be worked out, but as mentioned above, you still might have to pay a fee if your contract says so. If the situation gets worse, you can complain about your estate agents directly through their complaints procedure after this, you can complain to their redress scheme.

Do You Pay Estate Agent Fees When Buying?

If you use an estate agent for buying a house, you don’t have to pay any fees. You should factor in the other costs of buying a house to ensure you’re fully prepared for the process.

Save on Selling With Compare My Move

Before using 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. 

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

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.