How Do I Choose An Estate Agent?
Choosing An Estate Agent
Buying and selling a property can be complicated and stressful. There are several factors to consider too. This article will help you choose an estate agent, one of the first steps of selling your property. Compare Conveyancing Quotes HERE.
Remember, when selling property, it’s vital that you find an estate agent that best suits your specific needs. The same agent won’t be the best for everybody. Also, bear in mind that estate agents work on a commission basis, which means they are naturally keen to market your property efficiently in order to sell it and earn a wage. So here are the steps to consider when the time to find an estate agent arises.
How Do I Choose An Estate Agent?
Naturally, you will ask for recommendations from friends, neighbours, and family members. Whilst these recommendations are based on the person’s individual experience of a specific agent or even second hand information, a reliable recommendation is a good place to start. However, choosing an estate agent based on recommendations means understanding that others’ expectation might not necessarily reflect your own. If you are considering recommendations, speak to several agents in the area.
Estate agents must be members of The Property Ombudsman or The Surveyors Ombudsman Scheme. Many will also be members of trade bodies. This means that they are obliged to comply with a certain code of conduct which protects you as their customer. This may indicate a higher level of professionalism.
Trade bodies that many agents are affiliated may include:
- Guild of Professional Estate Agents (GPEA)
- National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
This information should be available online. Members of these schemes will be keen to display their membership on their websites.
Do Your Own Research
Visit and speak with your local estate agents as a potential buyer. This way you will get a sense of their professionalism (or lack of). You’ll get a general idea of whether you would be happy with them selling your home. Consider whether you feel confident that they would present your property in its best light?
Ask At Least 3 Agents To Value Your Home
Ask at least three agents to carry out a valuation of your property. Don’t be surprised if there is a variation in the price and the credentials that they base this valuation on. Do not necessarily be inclined towards the agent that values your property the highest. It is not a guarantee that this is the most realistic asking price. You need a realistic valuation, not an overvaluation of your property which will put off potential buyers.
Local Estate Agents
Visiting your local estate agents, or even making a cursory search of ‘local estate agents near me’ allows you to find potential Agents quickly. However, this does not indicate how each agent actually performs. Approach the agents you are considering and ask a number of questions that will indicate their level of professionalism as well whether you are likely to get on with them or not.
Important questions to ask:
- How many similar properties have you sold recently?
- How much do you charge for a sole agency sale?
- What contracts do you offer?
- Is there a tie in period?
- What is their selling experience in the local area?
- Where do you advertise (papers/boards/property portals)?
- How long do your properties take to sell on average?
- Do you have buyers ready for a property such as mine? If so, how many?
- What checks have you in place to ensure a buyer can afford my property?
- How are viewings managed? Who conducts the viewings?
- Are there any additional charges?
Good Estate Agents won’t mind any of these questions and be more than happy to answer them. Question anything that you are unsure of.
Compare Estate Agents Online
If you want a comprehensive choice of estate agents you should compare estate agents online. This is where compare-agents.com comes in. Our site offers a free, unbiased collation of estate agent information in your area, meaning we do all the leg work for you.Databases such as Compare Agents holds the following information so that you don’t have to:
- The % of asking price the agent usually achieves.
- The number of properties they have listed in the area.
- The average time it takes the agent to sell a property.
- Information about fees.
With data sourced from the major sites like Zoopla, Rightmove, OnTheMarket & the Land Registry, they will provide an objective view of important sales figures. This allows you to view the highest rated estate agents in your area.
What About Online Estate Agents?
Using an online agent to sell your home can save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds. But conducting such a high value transaction this way might seem like risky business. Whether you are considering sites such as PurpleBricks, eMoov, Tepilo, HouseSimple or YOPA, you’ll need to know what to watch for.
Online estate agents are often cheaper than high street estate agents and vary in terms of what packages and prices they offer. Fees can start as low as £300 which might be a flat rate fee paid upfront. Other pricing plans vary, and most offer payment on completion. However, this can cost more. An agent conducting viewings can cost extra.
High street agents typically charge around 1.5% of the sale price, or a pre-agreed fixed fee. For example, even on a 1.5% commission you will pay £4,500 if you sell your home for £300,000. This is a large amount compared to online agents where packages range from about £300 to £1000.
If you do choose an online estate agent, always get a few local estate agents to value your home first. This will give you an idea of a reasonable asking price.
Should I Use My Estate Agent’s Solicitor?
When you accept an offer on your property, it’s likely that your estate agent will suggest a conveyancing service. Maybe they even have one attached to their offices. While it might be tempting (and appear a lot more straightforward) to use the solicitor they recommend, there are a few things to consider before you decide.
There are a few reasons why an estate agent might be recommending a particular solicitor to you:
- They know they offer a trusted conveyancing service
- The solicitor they recommend will provide them useful information about your sale that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. In these cases you’ll usually have to waive your ‘right to privacy’ as part of your agreement with the conveyancing firm.
- They get paid a referral fee by the conveyancer (see below)
- A combination of the above
It’s not always easy to tell whether an estate agent is recommending a particular service because they have your best interests in mind or for their own financial gain.
Always compare conveyancing quotes. We ensure all our quotes are from efficient property lawyers to ensure a smooth and quick completion.
Referral fees are standard practice in the property industry and are used commonly. This is most often known as an ‘introduction fee – a fee that’s paid once you’ve agreed to work with the recommended conveyancer. It can be a percentage of the amount you pay to the legal firm, or a fixed fee. Check this out when you compare conveyancing quotes.
Some referral fees are ‘pay per lead’ or pay a ‘marketing fee’. It’s therefore incredibly likely that when your estate agent recommends a service, they are getting paid to do so. These are a fixed fee paid in exchange for information on potential clients (or leads). So an estate agent might get paid for passing on your name and contact information to a firm, so that they can be in touch with you directly.
Both types of fee are used commonly in the property industry – within the limits of GDPR and any conflict of interest.
Compare Conveyancing Quotes – Use our conveyancing calculator and get the best conveyancers fees now. All our quotes are like for like and include all fees and disbursements.
How Will I Know If This Is The Case?
In February 2019, National Trading Standards (NTS) released new guidance on referral fees saying that any referral fees have to be disclosed by agents to both sellers and buyers.
Similarly, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) states that solicitors are required to set out the full details of their fees, and any expenses associated with your transaction, including how much they paid for a referral. The Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) has a similar rule for their members too.
It should be fairly easy to see which estate agents are getting paid to recommend a particular service when you compare conveyancing.
However, it’s not always that simple. In a Property Ombudsman’s survey, only 80% of agents said they would let the seller and buyer know, whilst 14% said they would not disclose that they would get a referral fee for a recommendation.
To find out how much a law firm is paying an estate agent for your business (and whether it’ll be added to your conveyancing fees), ask your estate agent outright. You’re entitled to know both that a fee has been paid, and how much it is,. They must let you know if you ask. If your agent is reluctant, or refuses to discuss their referral fees, take this as a warning sign.
Compare Conveyancing Quotes – Our expert legal panel, made up of UK regulated solicitors and licensed conveyancers, can provide you with a fast efficient fixed fee online conveyancing service to help you to make your home buying or selling a simple and easy process.
Do not instruct the cheapest estate agent based merely on price. The lowest price doesn’t necessarily mean the best Estate Agent to go with. Of course you want to achieve as much of the sale price as possible, but you may actually achieve more back from an ambitious, hardworking Agent who sells your house for a slightly higher price but charges a slightly higher fee. An agent who charges a lower fee might not necessarily achieve their asking price.
Compare Conveyancing Quotes– You can get advice on Conveyancing from any of our solicitors without any obligation from you to instruct.