How to Pick the Right Estate Agent

One of the trickiest things about selling your home is picking the right agent. There can be major differences in costs and benefits, so you should plan to do some careful thinking and research before making your choice. Tempting as it maybe to go with the agent that seems most popular, here are some key areas to consider:

Costs

For most people selling their home, the cost will be among the most important criteria when choosing an estate agent. Fees do vary widely, so you will want to a thorough comparison of agents in your area.

Most agents charge a percentage fee of the sale price of your home. According to the HomeOwners Alliance, these fees typically range from 0.75 to 3.0 per cent plus VAT, with the national average being 1.8 per cent plus VAT.

You should also remember to ask about other charges that are not included in the estate agent’s fee. Some agents will consider certain marketing features (like 360-degree photos or floor plans) as add-ons, and charge you extra – so be sure you know up front exactly what your agent fee is paying for.

Marketing

While cost is an important consideration, perhaps even more crucial is your agent’s marketing strategy. This can make a big difference in how long your home stays on the market, and even how much it sells for in the end.

You should ask up front which portals your agent advertises on, and why. Listings on the main portals tend to cost a bit more, but they make up for it in sheer volume of visitors, since they get tens of millions per month. Given that 95% of property searches start on Rightmove, you're agent is going to need to be listing with them.

Another factor to consider is are they able to market your property effectively and in the best light? Good property adverts will have:

  • Good leading photo enticing potential tenants or buyers in
  • Good full descriptive text explaining what makes the property a great home
  • Descriptive text of rooms and its contents, especially useful for furnished rented properties
  • Complete set of photographs 
    • Wide angle showing the space
    • Correct light adjustments taking into account artificial light
    • Currently oriented images (landscape, always!)
  • Detailed floor plans

Once the property is listed, it's the agents job to make sure they are available for viewings at times to suit tenants and buyers. Are they able to accommodate early evening viewings, weekends or short notice enquiries? All these factors will affect whether your potential tenants or buyers choose your property or someone else's. 

The Contract (Sales)

This can be the most confusing part of agent shopping for many homeowners, as there are a number of options. Here are the main ones:

Ready, willing and able purchaser: This is the most constricting contract for sellers, and is generally not a good idea. If you sign this type of contract, you owe the agent a fee for finding a buyer whether or not you sell the home in the end.

Sole selling rights: This contract is also a bit limiting.It means only the agent has the right to sell your home during a given period. So even if you find your own buyer, you will end up paying the agent fees.

Sole agency: This option limits you to one agency, but it allows you to sell without paying any fees to your estate agent if you find your own buyer.

Multi agency: By far the most flexible option, this allows you to use any number of agents, while only paying one commission (to whichever agent sells your property in the end). These contracts are a boon for sellers because multiple agents increase your chances of finding the buyer that is right for you. They do, however, tend to come with higher fees.

Advantages of an online agent

Because they do not have hefty bricks-and-mortar and overhead charges, online agents are able to charge lower fees, so it will cost you less to sell your home. In addition, online agents tend to be better versed in the world of e-marketing, so your home may be sold faster, and the process could result in a better deal. As a final advantage, you will also typically be able to track your home’s sale process easily with a 24/7 online log-in.