How to choose the best estate agent for you

Property interior showing kitchen

'Most estate agents will sell a range of properties, but there are some that specialise in certain types of property. ' - Credit: Dales & Peaks

Your home is likely to be the most valuable thing you own and therefore choosing the right estate agent to market it for you is essential. 

Tom Currey, sales director of Dales & Peaks Estate Agents, offers his advice:

Ask the right questions 

Generally, the first meeting with an estate agent will be the valuation appointment.  Most buyers have an indicative range in their mind as to what their property is worth, but it is always worth asking how the agent came up with the valuation, especially if it sounds too good to be true.  

The agent is also there to discuss how they will market and present the property for sale so ask where it is going to be marketed.  

It can also help, to find out about other sales of similar types of local property the agent has achieved, to give substance to their claims.

Examine the marketing

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'Look for the agent you see showcasing their homes and themselves in the best way.' - Credit: Dales & Peaks

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An estate agent’s primary job is to advertise a property for sale.  

Presentation of their marketing, its reach and its interactivity all help drum up interest in the properties they’re selling – so look for the agent you see showcasing their homes and themselves in the best way.  

A strong marketing reach will achieve more viewing traffic, more viewing traffic generally equates to more offers, more offers lead to a higher price for your property. 

Choose a local agent 

Interior shot of lounge room

'Local agents will have an insight into things like schools, shops and outdoor spaces.' - Credit: Dales & Peaks

Being a local company brings several positive aspects, but the two most important are knowledge of the area and local employees with an understanding of the market.  

They will have an insight into things like schools, shops and outdoor spaces. They will understand what certain buyers are looking for and there will be potential buyers who trust them and will view homes upon their recommendation.  

There are some places local estate agents haven’t evolved at all over the last few decades and have allowed room for national agents to come in and swoop on their business. But, as far as I am aware, according to GetAgent, Derbyshire is an area where every postcode has an agent with local presence in the top five best performing agents in terms of sale time and percentage of asking price. 

Consider whether you need a specialist agent 

Interior of bedroom

'At the end of the day, you want to achieve a sale at the best possible price.' - Credit: Dales & Peaks

Most estate agents will sell a range of properties, but there are some that specialise in certain types of property. That specialism brings more precise valuations and a client base with specific requirements.  

Picking an estate agent that has experience in selling the style, price point or geographical area should make the process smoother.  

Results are important 

At the end of the day, you want to achieve a sale at the best possible price. 

Rightmove and Zoopla are the best indicators of which estate agents are selling what, and this information is live, precise and specific to the areas that buyers or sellers are looking in.  

Don’t always be lured by a high valuation 

A high valuation with no facts to back it up compared to a valuation that is higher than the competition with good reason, are two completely different things.  In a recent Which survey, 65 per cent of home sellers picked an estate agent based on the valuation being higher than that of other agents. 

It is, however, always worth considering that most agents will, within reason, try marketing a property with a slightly higher price than their valuation to win the listing. But this valuation should be based on facts.  

Don’t always be tempted by low estate agent fees 

While sellers should be tempted by good value, picking the cheapest agent to sell their most expensive asset seems somewhat counter-productive.  

Estate agency really is an industry where you get what you pay for, within reason, and while some agents can’t really justify their fees, some really can.  

Most estate agents charge their fees at completion, so consider what you will be walking away with rather than what the agent charges. And remember, most will flex on their fees if they want the business.  

Be wary of pitfalls 

Be aware of anything that might lead to a less successful sale than you were hoping for – or even no sale at all.

Unrealistic valuations can result in homes sitting on the market for long periods of time, which can sometimes result in properties selling for less than the more realistic valuations originally given by other agents.  

Poor presentation can make a home look darker, smaller or less attractive than it actually is, which can put viewers off coming to see the property at all.  

Low levels of marketing can prevent the buyer from even seeing the property is for sale. This will inevitably lead to either a property not selling at all or selling for a lower sale price than a larger market is willing to pay.   

Talk to friends and family 

Word-of-mouth recommendations provide a real world experience from someone who has used the agent.  While it isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, it is certainly something to consider.  

Choose someone approachable 

Again, getting on with your agent isn’t everything, but it will make the situation easier. 

Selling a house can be very stressful and if you’re dealing with a likeable agent, it will make the whole process more enjoyable.  

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