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What should I expect from an estate agent?

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Dealing with estate agents


If you’re buying or selling a house it’s likely that you’ll be dealing with estate agents somewhere along the way.

If you’re moving house choosing the right estate agent, and solicitor to manage the conveyancing process, will help to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Finding an agent who charges low fees will no doubt be high on your priority list. But cost is just one consideration – you want to be confident that your estate agent will handle the sale efficiently and professionally.

Try to choose an agent who has experience of selling property like yours. Look at local listings to see which agents are active in your area and choose a few. Invite them round to give a valuation and spend some time talking to them. Try to think about how they will come across to someone who is looking to buy your home.

Key questions you should ask include:

  • How many similar properties have you sold? At what price?
  • How long did it take to sell the properties?
  • How many buyers are looking for properties like yours?
  • How and where will it promote your property?
  • What are its charges, and when do you have to pay?
  • What price would they market your property for? What house price would they expect you to get?
  • Do they allow you to put your property on with other agents, and are there higher fees if you do?

Remember, although it’s tempting to go with the estate agent who gives the highest valuation there’s no guarantee they will offer the best service. And if they have overvalued your property it may put off potential buyers.

There is some legislation governing how agents interact with buyers. This stipulates that agents must always pass on offers promptly and always use clear contracts.

There are a few different things you can do to make sure you have a good experience.

  • Be organised: seek out estate agents that are selling the type of property you want. Be as clear as you can about what you’re looking for, including the location and key features
  • Keep in regular contact: If you do this they’re more likely to get in touch when a suitable property comes on the market
  • Make records: Write down any agreements made over the phone or in person including who you spoke to and on what date. This will help to minimize disputes further down the line
  • Get a mortgage agreement in principle: If you have already agreed with a provider that they will lend to you, it will show the agent you’re serious about buying. One of our advisers will be happy to help you obtain a mortgage agreement in principle. You can see some of the best mortgage deals on the market in our mortgage rates tables

Although many people like to use an estate agent that is based in their local high street an increasing number operate solely online.

The benefit of using an online estate agent is that they are much cheaper, so you can save a lot in fees. They will also advertise your house on all the big property websites – so you will still reach a huge number of potential buyers.

But this option won’t suit everyone – you may like dealing with an estate agent face-to-face. And online estate agents are unlikely to have the same level of local knowledge as one based in your area.

Many estate agents will offer to help you get a mortgage but they may only have access to mortgages from a limited panel of lenders.

Which? Mortgage Advisers will compare the whole mortgage market for you so you can be confident we will find you very best mortgage for your individual circumstances.

We’re here to help you

Contact Which? Mortgage Advisers free from a mobile or landline on 0800 316 4071

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Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

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