Selling a property is a big deal, in every sense of the word, so it is vital to choose an estate agent you can trust to get you the highest price and the greatest chance of a sale. Our guide to choosing the best agent outlines the factors to bear in mind as you narrow down your search, but when it comes to making a final decision, what should you be looking for and what questions should you be asking?
At Movewise we believe there are three key qualities that a good estate agent needs:
Any estate agent can put a photo of your home in their window, list it on Rightmove and then cross their fingers. But a good agent will be thinking of potential buyers as soon as they see your property. This is why it is vital to choose a firm that sells lots of properties similar to your own – they will already have the details of people who were interested in those houses and are therefore likely to be interested in yours.
That list of possible buyers is only useful if the estate agent is willing and able to put in the work to tell them about your property. Estate agents are only human, and they will tend to go after the easiest sales first – which might, for instance, be a property that has been drastically reduced in price because a seller is desperate.
Similarly, while you will want to choose someone who has plenty of buyers on their books, you don’t want them to have so many properties that they can’t devote enough time to yours.
You are relying on the estate agent to give a sales pitch for your home, so you need to make sure they can do a good job. This is where interviewing an agent is vital. Do they come across as sincere and knowledgeable? Recommendations from friends or neighbours will be helpful, but the best way to get an idea of how your shortlisted estate agents act with buyers is to pose as a buyer yourself. If you pretend you’re looking for a property similar to yours, what do they show you? What is their local knowledge like?
Once you have narrowed your shortlist down to a few estate agents, invite them to carry out a valuation of your property. This is also an opportunity to interview each of them – after all, you are the one giving them a job. Here are some of the things you should be asking:
Estate agents should be able to give examples of properties in the same area as yours and at a similar price point. Make sure that they have sold recently – it’s no good relying on potential buyers who were on the agent’s books months ago, as they will probably already have found a house.
If the firm has a property similar to yours on their books, quiz them about the levels of interest. How many viewings did that house get in the last week? Don’t be afraid to ask agents probing questions: you are going to be entrusting them with the fate of your most valuable asset.
The number of staff on an estate agent's team is an important point to check, to ensure they have the time to focus on your sale. In addition, it is worth asking whether they work on pooled or individual commission. While it might seem that an agent who only gets commission on his or her own sales will work harder, it could also make them less willing to share prospective buyer leads with their colleagues. If agents share the commission pool, they are more likely to pass on a buyer who could be perfect for your property, and work together as a team to get you the most successful outcome.
Ask about the agent’s standard commission rates and whether there is scope for negotiation. Our article on how to negotiate fees will cover this in more detail, but remember that the percentage is not the be all and end all. There is no point haggling over a tenth of one percent if the agent can’t find a buyer and you end up having to slash the price to get a sale.
Our data-driven multi-agent model takes the guesswork out of picking estate agents who can get the best results for your property. If the first agent doesn’t deliver, you can switch to another one with no additional fees and no hassle – and you won’t pay more than a typical single-agent fee. To find out how Movewise is pioneering a better way to sell, get in touch today.