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  1. Blog
  2. What do estate agents do?
Estate agent help and guides
14 June 2023

What do estate agents do?

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher
Estate agent leads a family around a potential new home.

Table of contents

  1. 1. What does an estate agent do?
  2. 2. Eight things estate agents do to sell your house
  3. 3. What estate agents are NOT responsible for
  4. 4. Why do you need an estate agent?
  5. 5. How do estate agents work?

The most basic answer to the question: 'What do estate agents do?' is: estate agents sell your property, or help you find a new one to buy.

The actual process of selling a property, and providing help finding a new one, is much more complicated than this simple answer suggests. For each home sale there are several steps an agent has to follow, lots of moving parts, and a minefield of legal requirements they have to comply with.

What does an estate agent do?

While estate agents play a vital role in both buying and selling property, ultimately an estate agent represents the seller - the person who pays their fee. This means the majority of their work focuses on helping homeowners to sell their property.

Eight things estate agents do to sell your house

If you are selling your house, you can expect your real estate agent do the following eight things:

  1. Value your property
  2. Give you help and advice
  3. Market your home
  4. Vet potential buyers
  5. Handle house viewings
  6. Negotiate the best sale price
  7. Manage the admin of the sale
  8. Keep things moving during exchange and completion

Let's look at them in closer detail...

1 - Value your property

The first of an estate agent's responsibilities is to value your property. To do this, they'll use their knowledge of the market, their experience of selling similar properties, and market data from sources like the Land Registry to figure out how much you might expect your home to sell for.

Valuation appointments are also a kind of interview. They give the seller an opportunity to see how the agent works and get a feel for their customer service. And, many sellers will book valuations with more than one estate agent before they decide who to work with.

A good estate agent will come to the valuation armed with hard data about the local property market, and be able to impress you with their knowledge of the local area and experience selling houses nearby.

2 - Give you help and advice

Once you've decided to work with a particular agent, they'll become a vital source of advice. A good agent will be familiar with the sales process and coupled with local knowledge they will be able to guide you through all the legal steps and answer any questions you have along the way.

They'll be able to talk you through what types of buyers are looking in your area, and the sort of features they're looking for. They'll also be able to provide advice on the best things to do to prepare your home for sale - whether that's a quick rearrange, or investing some time in DIY.

3 - Market your home

Marketing homes to prospective buyers is probably the job most commonly associated with estate agents - and rightly so. This part of their role will make up a large proportion of their work on any home sale. As a minimum, your estate agent will include the following as part of their marketing plan:

  • Professional photos
  • Floor plans
  • Advertising space in brochures, shop windows, online property portals, and social media
  • Attractive and effective property descriptions
  • Marketing targeted at registered buyers in your local area

Marketing is such an integral part of an estate agent's role. You should expect all the things your estate agent does to market and sell your home to be included as standard as part of their contract.

Many local agents will also push your property through traditional offline channels by placing your property in local press and newspapers as well as shop windows.

Online agents tend to rely on marketing your property on the websites they work with like Rightmove and Zoopla.

However, you'll find that a lot of online estate agents won't include these things as standard. This is why many in the industry don't consider online agents to be 'full service agents' in the same way that local estate agents are. Check out our blog for more information on the difference between high street and online agents.

4 - Vet potential buyers

Whilst marketing a property might seem like the most important part of an estate agent's job, there's also a lot of vital work going on behind the scenes.

The financial scale of property transactions also comes with a lot of risk. Part of an estate agent's role is to mitigate this risk through a range of security measures and to check if the buyer is serious. These range from basic checks on potential buyers who want to come for viewings to, complying with money laundering regulations. Make sure any potential buyer is genuine in order to avoid problems later.

For example, it's a requirement of the Property Ombudsman Code of Practice that estate agents check the financial viability of potential buyers before they make an offer. This involved checking the source and availability of funds. So, if a prospective buyer says they'll need a mortgage to purchase the property, for example, an estate agent will check they have a mortgage agreement in principle in place.

5 - Handle viewings

Potential buyers usually want to look round a property before they put in an offer. Your estate agent will take the lead on arranging these viewings, and showing buyers around. They'll provide a tour of all the main features of your property, and information about the local area too. They'll also make sure that your property remains secure during viewings. If you're not sure if you're getting enough viewings we talk about how many viewings it takes to sell a house in more detail. A good agent will arrange viewings as soon as you agree to work with them.

6 - Negotiate the best sale price

Hopefully all the work your estate agent has put into valuing, marketing, and showing off your property will encourage potential buyers to put in an offer. At this stage your estate agent will act as a go-between, helping you negotiate the best sale price for your property - or rejecting offers that don't meet your expectations. If they have valued your house correctly at the right price then you stand a good chance of getting the best offer and selling your house for the best price given the current market.

7 - Manage the admin of the sale

An estate agent's role doesn't end once an offer has been accepted. Once you've chosen a buyer your estate agent will take on the role of 'chaser'. They'll play a key role in facilitating communication between the conveyancers, and monitoring the status of the property 'chain' if there is one. They can also provide some legal documents such as your EPC (or Energy Performance Certificate) but bear in mind it's usually cheaper to get one independently.

You can also check if you already have an EPC here for free. We can also tell you the best place to get a new epc certificate.

8 - Keep things moving

During the end stages of a property transaction where conveyancers seemingly do most of the work, estate agents don't stand idle. As buyers and sellers can't communicate through another's conveyancers, estate agents act as middle-men, providing reassurance throughout this difficult stage to keep the ball rolling. Making sure all parties are working as quickly as possible makes sure exchange of contracts can happen sooner and that your sale becomes legally binding and you ensure a quick sale.

What estate agents are NOT responsible for

Providing conveyancers or brokers

Your estate agent may provide other services related to selling or moving house, such as mortgage brokers and conveyancers. Shop around first to get the best deal and the right match.

Representing the buyer

Estate agents' fees are paid by the seller, so while they provide a helpful service to many buyers, they will ultimately always act in the interests of the seller they represent.

However, it is an estate agent's responsibility to provide accurate and legally correct information about a property to a buyer.

Does my house already have an EPC?

EPCs are valid for 10 years, and you can use the one purchased by the previous owner.
So, you may have an EPC and not know it!

Why do you need an estate agent?

Estate agents provide security and experience to sales that most people would be stuck without, whether it's for residential or commercial properties.

When you work with a local estate agent, they're able to use their expertise about the local market to support your sale. They will have a register of interested buyers in your area, along with the knowledge to accurately value your home (and set a competitive asking price). The right agent can make a huge difference to your property sale.

On top of this they have access to the most prominent marketing channels, like Rightmove and Zoopla - the property portals where 95% of buyers begin their home search.

When you start getting interest from potential buyers, your agent will vet them on their legitimacy before they come for a viewing. You won't have to worry about the security risk of strangers in your home. They will deal with house viewings, making the whole home selling process less stressful.

To cap it all off, an estate agent will work extra hard to sell your home for as much money as possible because it's in their best interests to do so. Most estate agents earn commission based on the property sale, meaning they have more to gain from selling your home for a good price.

If you're unsure about all the little details and laws regarding the home selling process, and think you’ll end up having to spend money on surveyors and marketing, or worried about the security risk of hosting viewings with strangers, it’s likely a high street agent is the best option for you. You can compare the best local agents in your area for free with our Agent Comparison Tool.

How do estate agents work?

  1. Estate agents are hired to market and sell properties on behalf of homesellers.
  2. They vet potential buyers, lead viewings and help negotiate a final selling price.
  3. Usually, estate agents work to a base annual salary and may earn commission from house sales.
  4. They may also get a commision from selling in-house services such as EPC checkers or conveyancers.

Do estate agents have a salary?

Yes - all local estate agents have a salary, and most have one with some form of commission scheme. The average estate agent salary in the UK is £30,000 to £40,000, with the bonus of possible commission (based on a fraction of estate agent fees per sale).

How much do estate agents charge?

Generally, agents charge 1.2% to 3% from a property's final sale price, but this fee can vary from region to region, and city to city.

Thinking about
selling your home?

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Thinking about
selling your home?

Picking the right estate agent is vital for a successful sale. GetAgent makes choosing simple. Discover the best performing agents in your area.

  • Free
  • Data-driven
  • No obligation

Compare estate agents

It takes 2 minutes.

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