Former estate agent Colin gives his advice on the home moving process, how to choose an agent and set your price.
Moving house is often listed as one of life’s most stressful events. While the estate agent you choose to help sell your house can sometimes relieve some of this stress, many of you find that they add to it instead. In December 2017, we surveyed 2,005 homeowners to find out how they had found their most recent experiences of buying and selling their homes. Using an estate agent is by far the most popular way to sell – 86% of respondents had sold their most recent house through an estate agent. While 48% of those people told us that they didn’t experience any problems with their estate agent during the selling process, 47% had experienced at least one problem with their agent, proving that choosing the right agent is key. But how do people go about choosing the agent that they settle on, and is there any way to avoid ending up with one that makes the process more difficult? According to our survey, most people compare several factors, and the following comparisons are the most popular ways to make your decision: Are these the right things to consider? And how important are each of these factors? Scroll down for our expert advice on choosing an estate agent, and head to the bottom of the page to find our new, free high street estate agent comparison tool. 1. Multiple valuations The majority of you (65%) compared valuations from different estate agents to choose which to use to sell your home. While this does give some idea of the price you might get for your house, it’s not necessarily the best indicator of which company is best for you. Don’t base your decision solely on the agent that values your property the highest – while a high figure may sound tempting, an agent may over-value your property to get your business. This can backfire in the long-term, as it will take longer to sell and you may end up having to drop the selling price. Achieved asking prices and selling times are generally better indicators. Read our how much is your house worth? guide for more details on valuing your home. 2. Quoted selling fees High street estate agents usually charge a percentage of the final price as their fee. This percentage can vary depending on where you live, the size of your house, market conditions and whether you are using a sole or multiple agents. Online estate agents tend to offer packages with a fixed-price, upfront fee. Our guide to online estate agents explains the pros and cons of this system. Remember that you can sometimes haggle estate agent fees, as they won’t want to lose your business. So don’t choose your agent based simply on the lowest quoted fees, instead choose the agent you want and try to negotiate. Head to our guide to estate agent fees and contracts for our advice on negotiating your contract. 3. The types of property they’ve sold before Only 31% of sellers used this comparison to choose their estate agent, but agents with experience in selling homes similar to yours will know what your potential buyers are looking for. A good way to start your research is to look for similar properties to yours on the market in the area and find out which estate agents they are being marketed through. As well as knowing how your property compares to others on the market, they may also have a decent pool of prospective buyers on their books. Our new high street estate agent comparison tool, developed in conjunction with GetAgent, compares high street estate agents in your local area by the types of property they’ve sold before, as well as achieved asking prices and selling times. Scroll down to check your area. 4. Comparing reviews of estate agents It’s always helpful to get word-of-mouth feedback before committing to an estate agent. Speak to your neighbours to find out their experiences of local estate agents, both from a selling and buying perspective. There’s a lot you’ll need to know about about the services estate agents offer before making a final decision, so use our checklist of questions to ask your estate agent to make sure you’re fully informed. 5. Achieved asking prices Whether or not estate agents have achieved the asking prices they’ve set in the past is a good way to judge whether they have a tendency to initially over-value properties. So an estate agent that regularly completes a sale at the property’s asking price may be more likely to price your home realistically. Properties that are initially priced too highly put potential buyers off, so they can take around an extra two months to sell, which is an extra stress for you. Check which agents have achieved the most asking prices in your area in our new comparison tool below. 6. Selling times If you’re on a deadline and need to move quickly, past selling times could can be a good indicator of the estate agent to choose. Agents who value properties correctly, have a good pool of potential buyers and are able to negotiate between buyer and seller, can sell houses quickly and help the process go smoothly.