How to choose an estate agent

How to choose an estate agent
Selling your home is all about decisions - and making the right ones at the right time.

Choosing an estate agent is one of the most critical and can be the difference between a quick sale for a good price and long, painful months of no action before the reductions start.

But with so many options available, how do you even begin to start sorting the wheat from the chaff? As always at Whitegates, we are here to help...


One key decision for sellers is whether to market a property with one or more agents. If you are looking to keep your commission payment down then a sole agency agreement could be best, as most will agree to act for a lower commission rate if they are the only agent marketing the property.

However, a multiple agency agreement can be a good option for those looking for a quick sale - competition can create something of a feeding frenzy and will often result in more people through the front door to have a look around.


Once you have decided on your best plan of attack when it comes to either a sole or multiple agent strategy, draw up a list of potentials. Personal recommendations still count for a lot, even in these days of online reviews and sites like Trustpilot, so ask family, friends and neighbours for their thoughts on agents in the local area.

Do the agents on your shortlist have experience of selling properties like yours? The easiest way to find out is to take a look at the homes for sale in their windows. While you're there, are the pictures professional and the adverts well presented with clear and concise descriptions?


Once you have decided on a shortlist of agents, find out their standard terms and conditions. Check the tie-in period for peace of mind as if things don't work out, the last thing you will want is to be tied into long-term sole agency marketing.


Once you have three or four shortlisted agents, invite them to your property to conduct a valuation. As well as getting an idea of the property's value, a home visit will give you an opportunity to scope out the agent in person.

Find out what their viewing policy is and whether they will accompany potential buyers if and when you are out. What is their track record for selling homes like yours and achieving asking prices?

Ask them about the reasons behind their valuation when they have supplied it and find out what they would do if the property was not selling as quickly as expected.

And most importantly, are they open at weekends? A surprising number of agents only open between Monday and Friday, severely limiting the number of people who could view your property.

To invite your local Whitegates branch out to value your home you can book your appointment online.


Research yourself into what similar properties in the area are selling for. That way, you can measure the agents' valuations against your own perception. Some agents will provide an overly optimistic valuation to convince you to market with them, before talking you down a few weeks into the process.

You can get an instant online valuation on the Whitegates website to find out what your property is worth.


Most agents will charge between 1% and 2.5% + VAT of the sale price for a sole agency agreement. The fee calculation often excludes VAT so add on an extra 20% when you do your sums. For a £300,000 sale, for instance, the commission with VAT added would work out between 1.2% and 3% - so £3,600 to £9,000 in real money.

If you have spoken to all the agents on your shortlist, try to get them competing on cost - it could save you a considerable amount in the long run.


Make sure your chosen agent or agents list your property on the big online portals: Rightmove and Zoopla.

On top of that, will your home be marketed in traditional media like the local newspaper and will it feature in the window of the branch?


-   Make sure the fee you are paying your agent or agents includes marketing like 'For Sale' boards and property information forms.
-    Ensure your fee is only payable on a completed sale. Some agents' agreements include clauses like 'payment upon finding a ready, willing and able purchaser'. This could mean you still have to pay the agent even if the sales process collapses.
-    Make sure your agreement is limited by time, usually 12 weeks. That way, if you are unhappy, you can change agents after three months.


Choosing an estate agent to sell your home is YOUR decision and remembering that the agent is working for and acting on behalf of YOU is rule number one.


Do you get on with your agent or agents? A lot of your decision can be based around gut feeling. Do you trust them?

And most importantly, read the contract in its entirety. If there is something in the text that is unclear, ask. If you are unhappy, don't sign.

Remember, YOU are in control.

If you are thinking about selling your property, your local Whitegates branch are here to help. You can also download our Guide to Selling to find out more about how Whitegates can get you moving.