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Top five tips for choosing an estate agent

With houses selling on average once every 23 years, it’s unsurprising that many people are not particularly familiar with choosing an estate agent. So what should you be looking for, and how do you find out which agencies are good and which ones are less reliable?

Here are our top five tips!

Narrow down your local area

The first thing to look for is an estate agent who actively works in your area. Typically, this means finding branch offices or individual agencies that actively sell properties around your precise postcode, and you can do this by entering your postcode into the find agents section of Rightmove or Zoopla. That brings up a huge range of choices, but you want agents who are present on both, so you may wish to do a little comparison.

Bigger is often better

Smaller agents often sell themselves as “boutique”, but this usually means that they struggle to attract clients. It may be because they simply cannot handle more than a few properties, or perhaps they have an extremely narrow focus. For the majority of people, a small estate agent isn’t quite what they need, as they want the marketing outreach and everything else that comes with a larger business. In addition, should an agent go on holiday or even leave the business, there will be cover, helping deliver a smooth transaction. You can find out how many properties an estate agent has on the Yopa website.

Don’t forget other statistics

In their list of estate agents, Zoopla now shows how many properties each agent has on their books, the average property price and the average listing age of those properties. These are all useful statistics, and they give you an idea of what sort of properties they sell.

If, for example, their list of properties has an average value of £600,000 and yours is in the lower end of the market at £200,000, they may not be a suitable agent for your needs. This may not necessarily be the case, however, so it’s worth doing a little research.

Don’t go with the fastest

Some estate agents love to promote how fast they are at selling properties, but this isn’t always helpful. If their average property sells very quickly, it could be down to extremely good marketing, but more likely, it’s because the property is undervalued. Similarly, properties that are very slow to sell are often considered overvalued, and they end up with significant price reductions so that they end up selling. As a result, both buyers end up losing out. In most cases, it’s good to go with a middle-of-the-market selling range: not too fast but not too slow.

Take a look at reviews

If you’re trying to find trustworthy estate agents, for example, you want to look at reviews across the entire area. allAgents is useful in some cases, but it can have rather outdated information and multiple listings for the same company. TrustPilot is also useful, with any score above 8.5 being considered pretty good, provided the company has more than a thousand reviews. Alternatively, you could look at a selection of estate agents with key statistics picked out for you, such as in this guide to Newcastle estate agents.

Ultimately, the estate agent you choose will be the one that meets your needs and can sell your property at a reasonable price. Always check the commission, if relevant, or you could go with a more transparent option by choosing a fixed-fee agent – these agents usually advertise their prices up front, bringing an element of trust to the marketplace.