PROPERTY CLINIC: How do I find the best estate agent to sell my house?
- The prices and services on offer from different estate agents vary significantly
- House sellers need to select one that works for their personal circumstances
I am about to put my property on the market and am wondering how to choose the best estate agent.
There seems to be so many options when it comes to picking an estate agent – how do I choose one?
I want to get the best possible price but I also want to get my property sold.
The prices and services on offer from different estate agents varies significantly
This is Money replies: Your home is likely to be your biggest asset, so if you’re selling, you will want to get a good price for it. Choosing the right estate agent to handle the sale is therefore crucial.
There may be a host of reasons why you choose one estate agent over another, ranging from how they will present and market your property, to how much they charge.
With the new breed of online and hybrid agents, you need to consider whether they will conduct viewings and negotiate the sale price, or just list your property online.
A traditional high street estate agent will typically charge a percentage fee. Research carried out by conveyancing firm MyHomeMove in 2015 showed that was on average 1.3 per cent plus VAT – delivering a total charge of 1.56 per cent.
On a £250,000 home that would deliver a bill for £3,120, while on a £600,000 property it would be £9,360.
Remember though that estate agents’ fees aren’t set in stone. It is always worth attempting to negotiate on fees, and agents will often agree to a certain percentage if one level of price is agreed and a higher one if they get you more.
You may be willing to pay more if they provide a detailed plan on how they will do their best to secure a sale, or do special marketing of your property. Or rather than try to negotiate down the percentage, you could suggest a cap on the fees.
An agent may be more incentivised to sell your home for less if they are also selling the home you would like to buy. This is because if they sell both homes, they stand to get double the commission.
Challenging traditional high street agents are a new breed of online and hybrid estate agents, many of which charge a fixed fee for a sale, however, they may also charge more for conducting viewings and other extras. The big names here are Purple Bricks (which will sell a home for £849) and Yopa (which will sell a home for £839) and you can compare online estate agents with our guide.
Whatever agent you decide upon, it is important to choose the one that works best for your personal circumstances and how you wish to sell your home.
Ben Ainsworth, London regional director of fixed-fee estate agent Yopa, says: Begin by looking at who has sold similar properties to yours in your area. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on the same street but in a close radius.
Some local experience is key when it comes to selling homes.
Then you might want to consider cost: how much do you want to spend? It is always wise to ask three agents what price they would market your home for, before making your choice. You might wish to mix it up a bit – perhaps get a high-street agent round and a hybrid.
Many sellers fall into the trap of going with the agent who thinks their home will sell for the highest amount, so ask agents what they have actually sold, not what they are currently listing.
Dig deeper to get the truer picture – ask what they listed a sold property for and the strategy behind listing at that price.
House sellers need to select an estate agent that works for their personal circumstances
There is no issue in going with an optimistic agent, but you want a clear strategy in place. They may say they are going for a high price because they are going for gold and if a buyer doesn’t materialise at that price in a few weeks, they will then revisit the price.
Sellers shouldn’t be afraid of reducing the price as long as they have had an honest conversation with the agent at the beginning of the process. Watch out for agents who guarantee a price as that is a pitch to win business rather than a strategy to sell your home.
The next step is to think about the person who will be selling your home. Put a call in to the agent and speak to the person who will show people around and negotiate on your behalf. How well do you connect with them?
You are entrusting that person with your greatest asset, so it needs to be someone you have faith in.
It is also worth thinking about the hours your agent works. Increasingly, buyers want to speak to people at all hours so those agents tied to the nine to five will miss opportunities.
Tech is advancing so you want a diary system that buyers can log on and book into, so they can see your home when they want. If there are too many barriers, potential buyers will just pass and move on – you don’t want too many doing that with your home.