Selling a house can be a complicated and long process so it’s important that you have a good relationship with your estate agent and that you can trust them to support and guide you through the process.
Here’s the best questions to ask to make sure you sign on the dotted line with the right agent for you.
What are your fees and are there any other costs I should be aware of?
Most estate agents will charge a fee as a percentage of the sale price of the property. Depending on the type of contract you sign, these fees can vary. Some agents offer fixed fees as standard so you know what you will pay from the start, however these fees will be the same even if you end up selling for less than asking price.
Some agencies may offer you a fixed upfront fee which can work out cheaper, however it’s worth remembering that you don’t get your money back if the agent doesn’t sell your property. You may even have to pay another agent if the first one can’t find you a buyer.
No matter what fee you agree to, it’s important to find out what is included. For example, marketing costs should be included but you should check that you won’t have to pay extra for photographs or viewings undertaken by the estate agent.
You also need to have an Energy Performance Certificate before you put your property on the market, if yours is no longer valid (they last 10 years) your estate agent can normally arrange this for you.
When are your fees due?
Being aware of when these fees need to be paid will help avoid any unexpected payments. Upfront fees are, obviously, paid on signing the contract however if you agree to pay a fee as a commission this will usually be paid once your property has been sold.
What kind of contracts do you offer?
There are many different types of contract that can be offered to you when you sign up with an estate agent:
Sole Selling Rights: This means the estate agent is the only agent allowed to sell your property during the period stipulated in the contract. It’s important to exclude any pre-existing potential buyers from the terms of this contract.
Sole Agency: This means that while the agent is the only agent with the right to sell your property, you can also look to find a buyer yourself. Remember that it must be someone who found out about your property outside any marketing the agent has done e.g. a family friend.
Joint agency: As the name suggests, this contract would allow you to ask, usually two, agents to work together to find you a buyer. This means they would share any fee between them 50/50 or it might be weighted towards the successful agent, depending on the terms of the contract. Fees for this kind of contract are usually higher than a sole agency contract.
Multi Agency: This contract would allow you to engage multiple agents and pay commission to the one that ultimately sells your property. Fees for this kind of contract are higher and it’s also worth considering that the competitive nature of this kind of contract could mean that you might not get the best advice.
Have you sold any other properties in my area recently?
Before you choose an estate agent to sell your home, it’s important to know if they have a good understanding of your area and how to market your home appropriately. They may also have a list of potential buyers who are interested in the area which could accelerate your sale.
It’s also useful to look at how your agent sells properties. Look for an agent that takes a broad approach to marketing homes across multiple channels e.g. on their website, via sites like zoopla and rightmove and across social media. The more widely they market your home, the more buyers will see it.
Is my home ready for market?
Your estate agent should be able to give you an honest and straightforward opinion on the condition of your property and how to get it ready for sale.
From increasing your kerb appeal to redecorating, it pays to listen to your agents advice as they will have the best idea of what buyers are looking for.
How will you market my home?
It goes without saying but your chosen estate agent should have the tools in place to market your home effectively across a broad range of channels.
Whilst physical marketing such as leaflets and window adverts are still part of the marketing toolkit for most agents, having your property listed online is absolutely essential.
Ideally your agent will list your property on portal websites such as Rightmove, Zoopla and On The Market whilst also utilising their own website and social media channels too.
Who will conduct viewings?
If you choose an online estate agent, the likelihood is they’ll want you to conduct the viewings yourself which may be a drain on your time.
Buyers will often view a property more than once before they’re prepared to put in an offer so you’ll probably want your estate agent to take on these viewings themselves. They’ll also be able to talk to the buyer at length about the property and you may find the buyer feels more comfortable discussing their honest opinions with an agent rather than the current owner of the house.
Can you recommend surveyors, solicitors, removal firms, and do you get commission for doing this?
You’d be surprised at how well connected most estate agents are and how helpful this can be when you are selling your home. Whether it’s surveyors, financial advisors or removal companies, using a business that your agent has a good relationship with can often mean that things progress more quickly or they are more likely to be reliable.
However it’s important to find out if your agent is receiving commission as a result of the introduction. Whilst that’s not a reason not to use the business in question, you might want to do extra due diligence if this is the case to make sure you’re happy with the company in their own right.