5 things to consider when choosing an estate agent

With so many agents out there, it’s tricky knowing which will be the best at selling your property. On the surface they might all seem the same, each offering a similar package – but there will be big differences from one agent to the next.

Although you’ll be driven by price, don’t automatically go with the agent that offers you the highest valuation and the lowest fees – neither will necessarily equate to a quick sale and good service.

Instead, look at the whole picture. Everything from the length of the notice period should you want to terminate your contract, to exactly what you’ll get for your fees. So, before you sign on the dotted line, check these five points. They’ll help you to make a confident decision about instructing an agent.

1. Check the notice period

Every estate agent will offer you a sole agency contract, lasting for a fixed period of time. Once that contract is up, you can terminate it if your house hasn’t sold. Now the thing you want to look out for is the length of the notice period (the time you’ll need to give to end the contract), as they vary greatly from agent to agent. If it’s really long it could be quite restrictive if you want to switch to another agent. At Andrews, we only expect two weeks’ notice, as we’re confident we’ll sell your home before your contract is up. However, some agents will expect you to give as much as 12 weeks’ notice.

2. What’s included in the fees?

It’s important to find out what you get for your fees – and what you’ll need to pay extra for. So ask your agent these questions:

  • Do their fees include VAT?
  • Will they carry out the viewings?
  • What marketing materials will they create?
  • Where will they advertise?
  • Will they give you a ‘for sale’ board?

3. What's the marketing package?

A quick sale will heavily depend on how well your property is marketed. So we recommend that your agent offers as many of these things as possible:

  • Listings on the three main property sites: Zoopla, Rightmove and PrimeLocation
  • Professionally printed literature complete with large, high-quality, colour photos and detailed floor plans
  • Photography taken by a professional photographer
  • Your property advertised in local magazines and newspapers
  • Late night and weekend branch openings to give your property maximum exposure
  • An online site where you can track your sale, 24/7

4. What's their background?

You’ll also want to find out what experience your agent has of selling a home like yours. S​o ask them:

  • What similar properties have you sold? What price did you get?
  • How long did it take to sell them?
  • Do you have many buyers looking for a property like mine?
  • Do you think I’ll get the asking price?

5. Ensure there's a redress scheme

Hopefully your sale will go smoothly, but if it doesn’t, you’ll want somewhere to turn.

Every agent should be a member of a Fair Trading-approved redress scheme. So when you’re looking, make sure they’re either registered with the Property Ombudsman (previously called the Ombudsman for Estate Agents) or Ombudsman Services: Property.