When you compare estate agents, you shouldn't just focus on the fees charged, but also on the estate agent's sales performance, otherwise you might be left waiting for months without any interest being shown in your property. Time spent researching and choosing the best agent to market your property will, in the long run, save you time, money, and help you achieve the best sale price.
As a former Director of a leading estate agency, below I tell you first the thorough way to compare estate agents, followed by the tool that does the hard work for you in seconds. The tool can let you compare estate agents based on price, the percentage asking price achieved, and how quickly they sell houses.
How to compare estate agents
Research your area
- Drive around your local area noting the estate agent boards outside properties. Make sure you cover a reasonable area as the more boards you can record the better your research will be.
- Record this 'board count' under two headings, one for 'For Sale' boards, and another heading for 'Sold' boards.
- Once you have carried out this visual check, you will not only have a reasonable feel for the main estate agents in your area but also an understanding of who is main agent when it comes to actual properties sold.
- Whilst not all properties on the market will have boards, this is due to the personal preference of the seller. Estate agents are keen to get as many boards erected as possible, as they provide free marketing in the area.
Research your local estate agents
- The vast majority of properties for sale are listed on one or more of the property portals such as Rightmove or Zoopla, so these property portals are a great place to continue your research of estate agents in your area.
- Search for estate agents in your area, check out their office locations, and view their websites. This will give you a good feel for the quality of each agent.
- Check how many properties each agent has listed and how active they are in your particular area.
- Look for agents that sell similar properties to your own as this could be proof that they have 'cornered the market' in a particular area or property type.
- If you are selling a particularly unusual or expensive property, you may want to consider the larger national agents who specialise in your type of property.
- Ask neighbours with their property on the market what their views are on their particular agent - good and bad,
- Ask friends and family who live close by if they have any constructive views on estate agents in the area.
- Visit agents in your area to get a feel for the professionalism of the staff and the standard of their offices.
- Make an objective appraisal of the quality of each agents photos and property description, and decide whether they would appeal to you as a potential buyer.
Create your shortlist of potential agents
- Once you have completed your research, you will have a good idea of who are the most successful estate agents in your area and potentials for your property instruction.
- Refine this list down until you have 3 agents who you are now going to find out a bit more about by arranging an appointment for them to visit your property.
How to conduct an estate agent appointment
- Try and arrange the 3 appointments either on the same day or as close as possible to each other so that you can make a comparison while each appointment is clear in your mind.
- By conducting your research, you should already have a good feel for the value of your property so be wary of any agent who suggests a marketing price too far above the true value. This high figure is probably just a sales tactic to obtain the instruction and is unlikely to be achieved.
- Ask each agent to justify the marketing price suggested by showing similar properties that have sold at a similar price.
- Ask each agent in turn to lay out their marketing plan for your property, how often and where will your property be advertised, how many prospective buyers do they have registered, and do they use social media or other innovative marketing strategies.
- Ask each agent what property portals your property will appear on - don't instruct an agent who does not use either Rightmove or Zoopla as these are the market leaders.
- Next, request proof of how many sales they have made recently in your area and what prices were achieved. This will give you a good idea of how successful they are in actually selling properties (you can also find out this information by using the tool below).
- Ask each agent to tell you what actions they would take if your property was not selling - if reducing the price is their only suggestion then be wary of instructing them.
- When it comes to the fees, each agent will charge - don't be tempted by the cheapest agent, as the old cliche goes 'cheapest is not always best'. All fees will be negotiable so once you have made your choice of agent, push for a reduction from the fee quoted.
- Each estate agent is likely to quote two levels of fee - one for sole agency and another for multi-agency. Always choose the sole agency contract which will be the cheaper and better option as one agent is then totally focused on selling your property.
Points on the estate agent contract
- When you sign an agreement for an estate agent to market your property, it will typically be for a period of 12 weeks. Don't sign a contract for longer than 12 weeks as this may leave you tied into a poor estate agent who is failing to sell your property with no option to leave until the contract runs its course.
- Don't sign a contract that gives the agent 'sole selling rights' as this will mean that you may be liable to pay their fee even if you sold your property to a family member or friend without the agent introducing them.
- Be wary of upfront fees or fees that are charged even if a sale falls though or you withdraw your property from the market.
- Make sure you check if there are any extra marketing costs for items such as brochures.
The estate agent comparison tool
Find the best and cheapest estate agent in your area in seconds
The tool below lets you compare estate agents based on price, the percentage asking price achieved, and how quickly they sell houses. Just enter your postcode to get started.