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Questions to ask estate agents when you're selling
House selling tips
08 September 2020

Questions to ask estate agents when you're selling

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher

The first step when you're selling your home is to find an estate agent that you are confident in.

Luckily many estate agents offer free no-obligation valuations. These valuations aren't just a way to figure out how much your house is worth, they are also an opportunity to get to know the agent themselves. A savvy home seller will use these valuations as a time to ask lots of questions and figure out whether an agent knows their stuff.

Picking an estate agent with the right expertise will help you sell your home quickly, and (importantly) for the best price. And, choosing an estate agent that you actually like working with can help you avoid a lot of the stress of the home selling process.

This article looks at some questions to ask an estate agent when they come to do a valuation. These questions will help you get a real sense of which agent is best for you, and your property sale.

Which properties have you sold recently?

Asking this question, is a clever way of asking an estate agent what experience they have - and how this will improve their chances of selling your home.

When an estate agent shows you examples of properties they've recently sold, think about how similar they are in price and style to your own home. It's also useful to note how close they are to your house too. The more alike the properties are, the more relevant market experience the estate agent will be able to bring to your home sale.

If the houses are very similar, follow up by asking how long the properties were on the market for. This will give you a sense of how well the agent was able to use their local market expertise to get the best outcomes for their home sellers.

Generally estate agents that a very active in a particular area will have an advantage. They'll likely have already been in touch with people who are interested in purchasing a property like yours. They'll also know what sort of asking price will attract interest in the current market.

Want to double check the information an estate agent has told you? This tool uses data from the Land Registry and the major online property portals to show you the average amount of time it takes estate agents in your area to sell a property. You can use it as an objective second opinion, or to help you find the top performing estate agents in your neighbourhood. Head there now.

What percentage of the asking price do you usually achieve?

This question is key for figuring out how trustworthy an estate agent's valuation of your home is. If an estate agent consistently sells properties close to the asking price, it demonstrates their skill at competitively valuing homes for sale. On the other hand, if an agent often has to significantly reduce the price of homes before they sell, it's likely they are over valuing - either from lack of skill, or to entice sellers to work with them.

It's important that estate agents are able to back up their answer with examples of homes like yours that they've recently sold. If they're not able to, take this as a warning sign.

This tool can take some of the work out of this for you. It will show you the agents in your local area that consistently sell for the asking price (or close to it!). Check it out here.

How will you market my property?

There are some basics that you should always expect from an estate agent when your sell your home. All agents should put your property up on at least two different online property portals (like Rightmove, Zoopla, and OnTheMarket), and in the local estate agent window. They should also provide professional photography, a floorplan, and a 'For Sale' sign to put outside your house. Once potential buyers have expressed interest, your estate agent should conduct viewings, and answer any questions about your home in a prompt and appealing way.

However, the best estate agents will distinguish themselves with their tailored marketing plans. Not only will they use more modern methods of advertising like social media, or video tours, they will be able to justify why they use certain methods, and don't use others.

For example, if your home is well suited to young professionals, a good estate would likely focus on online advertising, social media channels, and digital communication, rather than newspaper adverts. A good estate agent will target the method of advertising to the sorts of buyers that are likely to be looking for your home.

If an estate agent has a set template for advertising, and can't justify why they do or do not use a certain avenue, it's likely that they won't be able to target potential buyers as effectively as an agent that has a more thoughtful approach.

Who will look after the viewings?

It's unlikely that the estate agent that comes to do your valuation will be the same person that will conduct the property viewings. Ask this question to get a sense of the expertise and attitude of the agent that will actually talk to potential buyers.

Lay out your expectations for the viewings - for example, if you expect a certain knowledge of the local area, or if you hope they will conduct viewings whilst you're not home.

You can always ask to meet the agent in person too, if it would make you feel more comfortable. Because this agent is effectively the 'face' of your home sale, It's important that you're confident that the estate agent will represent your house in it's best light.

What are your fees (& what's included in them)?

Before you decide which agent to work with, make sure you ask for a detailed break down of their fees. Most traditional high street agents will include all costs in a single commission-based fee that you'll pay once your sell your property. But, online and hybrid agents usually charge an upfront fee, which won't include all your marketing costs. Asking for a full breakdown of costs from the start, will help you avoid any unexpected bills.

How often will you be in touch?

Some home sellers like to be constantly in the loop, and receive regular updates, whereas others would prefer that estate agents only contact about significant progress. Use the valuation meeting as a time to lay out your communication expectations and discuss the estate agent's preferences too.

This will give you an opportunity to see whether you will 'click' with the agent, and find it easy to work with them.

Anything else that's important to you

When it comes to questions to ask estate agents, the most important thing is that you're confident with the agents ability to make the property sale happen. Feel free to ask whatever questions you need at this stage to help you decide on what's best for your sale.

You'll be spending a lot of money on the sale, so make sure you've got all the information you want. And, if you don't understand something, or want further evidence, don't be afraid to ask for more information.

Questions the estate agents might ask you

It's likely that the estate agents will also want to ask you some questions. These questions will generally be about your property, and will help them get a sense of your needs, as well as giving them more information on which to base their valuations. The more detail you're able to give them, the more detail they will be able to add to their valuations and marketing plans.

Questions estate agents are likely to ask include:

  • How long have you lived at the property?

  • Why do you want to move?

  • Have you ever previously tried to sell the property?

  • Is your home a freehold or a leasehold?

  • Do you pay a service charge or any ground rent?

  • Are you aware of any particular structural issues with your property?

  • Do you have an EPC (or home report)?

  • How much do you tend to spend on your utility bills?

  • Are you buying a house as well as selling?

It's likely that most estate agents will already be aware of the transport links and schools nearby, as well as the council tax bands. However, if you're having a valuation conducted by an online agent who isn't based in the area, they may also ask for that information too.

Ready to sell? Finding an estate agent is the first step. Book no-obligation valuations for free here.

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