House Front Door

How to choose the right estate agent

By Perry Power, property sales specialist at Perry Power

Unless you live in a remote area with little competition, it can be difficult to decide which estate agent to use to sell your house. You may lean toward the ‘new kid on the block’ who promises the earth, the one offering the cheapest fees, or an older agency with a long-standing reputation in the area. The decision is even more difficult as a growing number of online estate agencies emerge who support vendors’ ‘DIY approach’, with a handful of services at relatively cheap prices. I always advise vendors from the outset to ask friends, family and colleagues which estate agents they think are value for money, professional and effective.

To start with, look at the estate agents website and ask yourself:

  1. Does it look professional and is each property photograph of a high standard?
  2. Do they feature floor plans and make full use of premium marketing products on portals such as Rightmove, Zoopla or On The Market?

This can be an excellent indicator of how much effort and commitment a particular agency puts in to marketing a property.

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You should be cautious of choosing an estate agent simply because they appear to have the most boards in your area, or they’re offering the cheapest service. Look at the properties they have available on their website. If 90 per cent of the houses are for sale and only 10 per cent are under offer, this should ring alarm bells.

Next, why not test the estate agent out. Potential homebuyers rarely search for properties between 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, so what happens when you call an agent’s office at 7 pm? Are they still open? Do they answer the phone or do you have to leave a message? How quickly do they respond to your emails?

Attitude is a strong indicator of performance. You should consider the answers to the following questions:

  1. Does a specific member of the team oversee all aspects of your house sale, or do you deal with anyone who’s currently available in the office?
  2. Do you need to keep chasing feedback, or does your agent proactively focus on marketing strategies?

Personality and trustworthiness are vital aspects of choosing an estate agent.

What to watch out for

Do not fall into the common trap of instructing an agent just because they value your property at the highest price or offer the lowest fee. These figures are often simply a means of bringing you on board and tying you into a sole agency contract, lasting several months. An estate agent doesn’t determine the value of your house. It’s determined by the market and it’s true that you get what you pay for. As long as the agent presents and promotes your property correctly, the value will be maximised.

Unfortunately, it’s very common for target-driven estate agents to intentionally overvalue a property to win your business. You will probably find that the agent who gives you the highest estimated value will also have the longest sole agency contract. This can often run up to 20 weeks, committing you to that agency even if it doesn’t deliver on its promises. I regularly speak to frustrated sellers whose properties have been on the market for anywhere between six and 12 weeks, receiving little interest. All they can do is reduce the price as they are committed to that estate agency for the duration of the sole agency contract.

Perry Power

Perry Power, property sales specialist

Personally, I don’t believe in long restrictive contracts. If the agent’s marketing is good enough to deliver results, and the service is excellent and keeps you happy, there should be no reason to tie you into a sole agency contract. If you’ve called in the best estate agent, asked the right questions and received satisfactory answers in return, the decision is actually easy – it all comes down to trust. Simply instruct the one who you trust the most. It’s that simple.

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