Choosing the best estate agents to help you sell your home is incredibly important. Choose the wrong estate agent, and you could end up receiving far less than your house is truly worth. You may also have to deal with endless stress along the way, making the whole process of selling your home deeply unpleasant.
The best estate agents work like property matchmakers. They find the right buyer for your property and work hard to sell it. Once your property is under offer, the best estate agents will ensure good communication across the buying chain. They can ensure problems get fixed quickly and act as if they are on your side and trying to get the best value for your home.
To help you find the best estate agents in your area, here’s our five-step guide to choosing the best estate agent for you.
How to find the best estate agents
There are plenty of ways to research local estate agents, including:
Google – Start off with Google searches such as ‘estate agents near me’. Google will show a list of big nationwide estate agents and smaller independent estate agents ones that operate where you live. You can then visit each one of their websites to discover the sorts of properties they deal with and the fees they charge. If you use Google Maps to search, you can also see reviews by previous customers, which can help you decide.
Online reviews – Look for online recommendations and reviews of estate agents. Reviews can be found on the estate agents’ Google My Business page which appears next to their website when you search for them in Google, as well as websites like TrustPilot, Facebook and Twitter.
Rightmove and Zoopla – Look for similar properties listed with online estate agent sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla. Look at which estate agents specialise in similar properties. Look at under offer and completed sales listings – some have dates when they were listed and when they were sold, giving an idea of the speed of different estate agents.
Visit your local high street – There are usually estate agents in most high streets, and they will have the advantage of local knowledge and understanding of demand. Reviewing the type of property on display will help you understand if they specialise in selling similar properties to the one you want to sell. Speak to the sales staff to find out more about them, including how long properties take to sell, types of customers and demand for your property.
Friend recommendations – Talk to friends and relatives to help research local estate agents. They may recommend firms that they’ve used in the past and give you an honest overview of their experience.
Read our expert guide to removal companies: choosing the best removal firm – from getting quotes, checking insurance and removal firm costs.
Traditional versus online estate agents
A key consideration is your approach to selling your home – and how much you want to do the estate agent’s work yourself. A new type of estate agent that operates exclusively online – such as Purple Bricks – have emerged which might suit you better.
Online estate agents – Online agents such as Purple Bricks offer similar services to a traditional, high street estate agent. This includes escorted viewings, sales materials such as ‘for sale’ boards, and listings on major property websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla. Because they don’t have the overheads of traditional estate agents their prices are usually lower, with a flat-rate fee as opposed to a percentage commission of the house sale price. For some people, these new online businesses may prove the best estate agents to use.
Traditional estate agents – High street estate agents typically charge more to sell your house. However, commission-based sales should mean they are incentivised to sell your home for as much as possible, as they’ll get a higher commission. You’ll also benefit from local knowledge and the ability to talk face-to-face in case of issues or questions. They will offer the same as online services, including listings on property websites and sales materials.
Picking the best estate agents can mean choosing between traditional and online-only services. Lower fees are attractive, but if you prefer the convenience of access to a local firm, the high street might be the right place to find the best estate agents if you don’t mind paying more.
How to choose the best estate agents
Now that you’ve discovered all of the estate agents near you and you’ve opted to go down the traditional estate agent route, you’ll need to narrow your selection.
Gather as much material and information as you can on each estate agent. Do this when reading about them online, and pick up marketing materials. Examine information such as how much they charge, what properties they specialise in and what feedback previous clients have given.
Create a shortlist of those that look best at a glance. No matter what you’re looking for, there will always be some estate agents that you quickly don’t like, and others that you do like.
Call or visit each of the shortlisted estate agents and ask them detailed questions to help you decide. Questions to consider include:
- Who will be responsible for conducting viewings – you or them?
- What sort of promotional materials will they provide to anyone viewing your home?
- How many potential buyers do they currently have to contact?
- How will they go about promoting your house?
- Will they offer you any additional items, such as a ‘for sale’ board?
- What do they charge?
- Do they have any additional fees (such as for choosing another estate agent in the future)?
- Do they have a tie-in period or can you leave them whenever you wish?
Once you’ve gathered answers to all of these questions, you should then have enough information to make a decision on which is the best estate agent for you.
How to haggle with an estate agent
It’s perfectly normal to haggle with your chosen estate agent – and many will lower their prices, especially if you let them know you are choosing between a few local estate agents.
Start by asking them for any reductions they can make in the percentage commission they get for selling your home. If this is currently at a fixed rate, regardless of the sale price, then ask if they would consider a sliding scale. This works in agreeing on a percentage increase as the final agreed sale price they secure goes up. This gives the estate incentive to work harder and get a higher sale price: a win-win for both you and them. You could also ask for them to reduce the fee you have to pay regardless of whether the property sells or not. Just remember, there are a number of bartering chips you have in your corner when haggling with your estate agent, such as:
- You can offer them exclusivity above any other agent;
- They stand to make a lot of money on the sale of your home and they need your business;
- You can make a decision to work with them there and then, as opposed to speaking and deliberating with any other agents;
- They’ve already invested time and effort into trying to secure your business.
Valuations – how to choose the best one
Valuing your home is an incredibly important task. If you price it too low you risk someone snapping it up for a bargain and missing out on thousands of pounds. Set it too high and you risk the home not selling at all, or taking a very long time to do so. Even if it doesn’t sell, you’ll get stuck with fees to pay your estate agent for listing and trying to sell it.
How do you choose the right valuation? Well, here are our top tips:
- Gather as much data as possible. This means looking at property prices in the area and how much similar houses have sold for.
- Use the Land Registry website for access to data for properties all across the UK. This is not always 100% up-to-date but is very helpful.
- Consider everything your house has to offer. This includes the number of bedrooms, how old it is, how much garden space there is, how structurally sound it is, what condition it’s in, whether it has a garage, its parking facilities and any additional features.
- Also, think about your local community. What sort of amenities do you have nearby and how safe is the area? The property might have fallen in value if the area has received lots of bad press recently.
- Remain impartial. Yes, this might be hard as it’s your home. However, you need to think economically as opposed to emotionally. Weigh up all the data you have gathered and make a sensible decision.
Remember, overvaluing your home is just as dangerous as undervaluing it – even more so if you then need to drop the price significantly in order to speed up a sale.
How to manage relationships with the best estate agents
Once you’ve commissioned your chosen estate agent, you’ve got one more job – maintaining a healthy relationship with them. So here are our top tips for exactly that:
- Give them quick updates if anything about your property changes;
- Always be friendly and supportive and don’t get angry with them if something goes wrong;
- Be sure to attend all scheduled appointments;
- If they are coming to show someone around your home, ensure it is clean and tidy;
- Be prompt with any payments you owe them.