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  1. Blog
  2. Eight key questions to ask estate agents when selling
House selling tips
08 September 2020

Eight key questions to ask estate agents when selling

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher
man in yellow t-shirt looks thoughtful whilst listening to paper cup phone

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

Luckily, many high street 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 homeseller 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.

Here are the top eight questions you should ask estate agents when selling your house:

1 - 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.

How can I use this information to my advantage?

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 properties are very similar, follow up by asking how long they 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 are 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? The GetAgent Comparison 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.

2 - 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 may mean they are overvaluing. However, it's worth bearing in mind that rapidly changing market conditions can also greatly impact an agent's ability to achieve an asking price - so an agent who wants to reduce the price, may be doing so for the right reasons.

It's important that estate agents are able to back up their answer with examples of homes like yours that they've recently sold. Tread with caution, and don't be afraid to ask why the agent hasn't sold properties in your area.

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.

3 - 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 agent would likely focus on online advertising, social media channels, and digital communication, rather than newspaper adverts. Other properties however, may require a different approach. 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.

4 - 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.

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

When you pay estate agent fees, the process can differ from one agency to another. Before you decide which agent to work with, make sure you ask for a detailed breakdown of their fees.

Most traditional high street agents will include all costs in a single commission-based fee that you'll pay once your property sells. 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.

6 - How often will you be in touch?

Some homesellers 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.

7 - What type of estate agent contract do you offer?

It goes without saying that you should read your estate agent contract thoroughly before you put your signature down.

There are three main types of contract:

  • Sole seller contract: The agent reserves the exclusive right to sell your home during the term of the contract. This means they're entitled to payment even if you find a buyer yourself.
  • Sole agency contract: The agent reserves the exclusive right to sell your home, but you don't have to pay them if you find a buyer yourself.
  • Multi-agency contract: This type of contract lets you hire as many agents as you want to sell your home. Generally, the contract comes with a higher commission rate because the winning agent shares the fee with the other agents.

There are lots of things to look for in an estate agent contract, but we can't cover them all here. Our guide to agent contracts covers the whole lot. However, we urge homeowners to avoid contracts containing the clause 'Ready, willing and able purchaser'. It means that as long as the agent can find a willing buyer, you'll need to pay their fee - even if you decide not to sell to them!

8 - 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 agent's 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.

Want a good estate agent? Leave the questions to GetAgent!

Looking for a good agent can be time-consuming, especially if you're doing everything yourself. Why not leave the questions to a reliable, data-driven service like the free GetAgent Comparison Tool.

Drawing on data from the Land Registry and popular property portals, the tool compares the past performance of estate agents in your local area and ranks them according to:

  • Experience in selling properties like yours
  • How fast they sell properties like yours
  • The percentage of asking price they achieve

No need to chase quotes, GetAgent provides average estate agent fees, inclusive of VAT.

Compare estate agents

It takes 2 minutes.

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

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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