Top tips on choosing an estate agent to sell your home

There are many agencies offering competitive services. From the online agencies to the independents and the corporate giants. The question is, in a tough market, how will you find an Estate Agent that will work hard to sell your property and give you good advice?

Firstly, some key points to be aware of:

1)      To win an instruction to sell your home, an agent may ‘high ball’ you. This is one of the terms used for persuading you that they can get a higher price for your property than even they think is realistic. The idea is just to win your instruction and while in the sale contract they will try to then persuade you to reduce the price. Certainly the corporate agencies specifically target staff to win instructions and then at a pre-defined time, maybe 4, 5 or 6 weeks later target them on getting a price reduction on your property. This may sound ridiculous, but I can assure you, having lasted a whole 3 months (I couldn’t take anymore of the tricks) working as a mortgage broker for a major corporate I watched this happening first hand.

2)      Agency fees are typically quite high. But so are the costs of selling your home. Rightmove alone is a costly form of advertising. Then there is advertising in local papers and other media. Time has to be paid for, in terms of accompanied viewings of your property etc. The thing to watch with fees is that some agents quote it as a percentage, but the sale contract you sign states a set fee. So if you take a reduction on your asking price, you’ll still pay the same fee to the agent as if you sold at full asking price. From our experience, not too many agencies try this one, but it is a trick of the trade to look out for nevertheless. The advantage of making sure you paying a percent of the house price and not a set fee is that it should encourage the agent to work that little harder to achieve the best price as it is also in their interest to do so.

3)      VAT – you should make sure you factor in the VAT at 20% (currently) on the agency fee quoted. The fee is often a percentage of the sale price plus VAT.  And if the agent you are using is not VAT registered, they cannot be selling a lot of properties, so beware! A savings of 20% of the fee is usually comparatively small compared with the value of a home – is it worth it to have a sleepy agency?

4)      Media advertising is key to selling a property in the modern age. Make sure the agent you choose is active on Rightmove, Zoopla and other online advertising tools. These generate significant enquiries – yet because of cost, some agents will only be active on one or the other. Yet the fees you may pay the agent will be similar to another agent who is active on all of them.

How to find a good estate agency

Top tips for finding the right agency:

1)      Look at their website and other advertising. What is the quality of the property descriptions and clarity of pictures? You can then gauge what your property might look like advertised by the agency.

2)      Do they advertise on all available property websites, especially the big ones like Rightmove and Zoopla. Do they also advertise in the property section of the local newspaper or house-sale magazine? If not, you’d hope the cost of selling through them would be less to reflect a lesser service.

3)      Mystery call them. It might sound bizarre, or a little frightening. If you are worried about it, get someone you know to call them up and ask about a property they have for sale. Do they have time to speak to you? Do they ask the right questions to ensure they are offering you the right type of property? This is a real-time gauge as to how hard they really work to sell properties and how well they know the properties they are selling. You might also try emailing them and see how long it takes them to respond.

4)      When they come to see you and assess your property, do they offer you advice on how to make it appear more appealing? Do they genuinely take an interest in the property and in any quirks or good selling points?

5)      Ask them for recent comparisons of properties they have sold in your area and price band. Then check it out on a website like Zoopla or Nethouseprices to confirm what those houses sold for.

6)      Code of conduct – are they members of an association such as the NAEA which encourages professionalism. You do not need any skill, experience or qualifications to set up an estate agent.

7)      Look at what instructions they currently have. Do the prices compare with similar properties online? How long have the properties been advertised for?

What questions to ask when they visit:


1)       How many similar properties have they sold? At what price?

2)       How many viewings and how long did it take to sell the properties?

3)       How many buyers are on their database currently looking for properties like yours?

4)       Are they a member of a professional body?

5)       What price would they market your property for? What house price would they expect you to get? What price would they value your home for a ‘quick sale’?

6)       Who will do the property viewings with interested parties?

7)       Can you have a copy of the agency’s contract?

8)       How and where will they promote your property? Which property websites will the property be advertised on?

9)       What are its charges (a full break down) – and when do you have to pay?

Do you want to know more?

If you are currently looking to sell your property, why not talk to Harvey Bowes today? We may be able to offer you more sound advice on selling your property and would be delighted to give any mortgage advice you may need. Contact us today on 029 2115 6918.

About harveybowes
Mortgage Broker and founding Director of Harvey Bowes Limited. A mortgage broking practice with bases in Cardiff & Poole, UK. We take a fresh and positive approach to mortgage broking which pays dividends for both our clients and frankly, ourselves. The team at Harvey Bowes are expert advisors in all aspects of mortgages from residential to commercial and buy to let.

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