How to choose an estate agent when selling your house or flat

Choosing the the right estate agent can dramatically raise your chances of selling a property – here's how to get it right

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Selling a house for the first time? It can be a daunting and even stressful process, with lots of practical considerations. Making sure your house is in the best possible condition for the sale is only half the job – choosing an estate agent that will actually get the process going and get your property sold is crucial, too. 

So, if you're selling a home, whether a house or flat, follow these tips from Alex Thorpe, CEO of online estate agent comparison tool NetAnAgent.com, and see the sale of your property run smoothly. Find more advice on our property pages.

Tailor your agent choice to your reason for selling

Why are you selling? Are you keen to move house quickly? Or is generating the most income for the sale a priority? Different estate agents have different approaches to selling a property: choose a local agent with lots of networks and know-how in your area, and you could be looking at a very quick sale, assuming that you are prepared to be reasonably flexible during price negotiations. On the other hand, an upmarket agent with an international profile is more likely to negotiate a higher price for you – just be prepared to be patient as the right buyer make take a while to appear. 

How much you are willing to spend on agents' fees?

'Estate agent fees vary depending on numerous factors including where you live, the size of your property and current property market conditions,' explains Alex. 'Traditional estate agents often take a percentage of the final sale price of your home, while online agents may offer a fixed-rate, upfront fee. Usually there is some wiggle room so don’t be afraid to negotiate.' An online comparison tool, such as NetAnAgent, will give you a bigger picture of what you would be getting for your money. Alternatively, sit down the old-fashioned way, with a pen and a notebook, and make a list of your potential agents, with pros and cons for each. We would advise against going with whichever agent is cheapest, though; instead, your first consideration should be their experience in selling in your area.   

Do you want to conduct the viewings – or will they?

Do you think you can talk about your property in a way that would entice a potential buyer (that means at least not complaining to them about how freezing it gets in the downstairs bathroom in winter)? And would you feel comfortable showing multiple sets of strangers around your house? If the answer is yes, and you spend a lot of time at home anyway, then you may as well do viewings yourself. Whether you are able to take on this part of the process will determine what type of estate agent you can go with. 'Thinking about the role you want to play in the house sale and the time investment you are willing to make is key to deciding if to go with a traditional high street agent, online agent or a hybrid which offer different levels of service depending on your needs.'

Find our whether they've sold properties like yours

This point is a bit different from the need to ascertain the estate agent's experience in your area. If you live in the only new build in a street of imposing period properties, then your dedicated local estate agent may not be the best choice after all. Likewise, if they're only used to selling huge properties, while you are trying to sell a studio flat, you'll be better off finding an agent with experience of selling small flats. Don't just automatically go for the glitziest place on the high street, either, as it may well be off-putting and/or intimidating to your potential buyer.  

See if you get on with them – it does matter

Did you find the estate agent personable and welcoming when talking to them? Did they seem trustworthy, knowledgeable, and communicative? Think like your buyer, because if you were the one buying, you would want all of those things from an estate agent. Read up on them online, read a couple of review on TrustPilot – did other people, both buyers and sellers, have a good experience with them? If they got the house sold, but were stressed and uncertain about what was happening throughout the process, that won't do. Alex concludes, 'Having a clear mutual understanding of your objectives and the level of communications expected between agent and vendor is one of the biggest factors in establishing a successful working relationship with your agent.'

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