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How to pick an Estate Agent & a guide to Agency fees

Picking an estate agent can be a tricky ocean to navigate, with so much choice you can often feel lost and unsure of what is right for you.

The first step you need to take is booking a valuation, booking multiple estate agents to come and value your home instead of one is advised as this gives you several opinions on price, it also allows you to get a feel for what different estate agents can offer you such as the level and quality of marketing and their fees for their services. Another important benefit you get from meeting with multiple estate agents is that you can get a feel for the different types of people you are going to be working with, the estate agent that attends the valuation and promises the highest price in the fastest time frame at the cheapest cost to you, may not be the best one for you. In an industry where there are so many stories of estate agents over-promising and under-delivering, it’s advisable that you consider who you felt most comfortable around and who you feel will give you the best service.

Remember, you are potentially entering into a rather lengthy relationship so feeling comfortable is a key factor to consider. Selecting which estate agents to book in a valuation with can be tricky, getting recommendations from friends and family who have had a positive experience recently is a good place to start, another way you can choose is by doing some good old fashioned research, you can do this by going on popular property portals such as Rightmove and looking at which estate agents have a good amount of properties SSTC in your local area, there are also dedicated websites such as GetAgent who compare estate agents performance and provide this information for you to save you some time. Another thing to pay attention to is the amount of sold boards you have around your area when you are out and about. One more way you could compare is by doing a Google search of the estate agents in your area and looking at their reviews, there’s a saying these days and that is that ‘there are no blind dates in business anymore’.

Once you have had your valuations you may find that there is a variance in how much each estate agent costs and how they charge their fees, some estate agents may charge a percentage of the sale price, others may charge you a fixed price, some you will be liable to pay upon exchange of contacts, others may be on completion (the day the move takes place) or if they are an online agent they may charge you upfront or offer you a deferred payment. If using an online agent, please bear in mind that if you do not pay their upfront fee and opt for the deferred payment route that you are usually entering into an agreement that requires you to pay them regardless of whether they sell it or not, this is why no sale no fee setups are very popular as you only pay the estate agent if they are successful, this is certainly something that you should consider when making your decision.

Another thing to be careful of is withdrawal fees, they aren’t extremely common these days but there are still a portion of estate agents that will try to charge you if you withdraw your property from the market with them (this includes during your ‘cooling-off period), so make sure you ask whether they have one. Your cooling-off period is the 14 days in which you get to cancel your contract before you are tied into a fixed period which brings me onto contract lengths. The contract length is important to consider, they vary in length quite vastly from 0-week agreements to 28 or even 52-week agreements.

If an estate agent wants to tie you into what you feel is a lengthy contract and won’t negotiate to a shorter term, you may want to consider why and whether this particular estate agent is the one for you. Sole agency or multiple agencies is an additional area to ponder, if you like two estate agents and cannot decide between them you can always use them both, normally it will be on a winner takes all basis but, sometimes estate agents will agree to a ‘fee split’ meaning no matter who sells it they will both receive a sum of money.

Some estate agents will try to charge you more for multiple agencies but it’s important to consider why? At the end of the day they are doing the same job so why should you be charged more for it? With so much to consider hopefully this can be a handy tool for you to make an educated decision.