1. Reviews – Read their reviews and pay particular attention to the latest ones. Don’t be fooled by the number of reviews as some estate agents will have been around a lot longer than others but it doesn’t mean they are better. See if individual names are mentioned and if so is that individual still working there?
2. Test – A good way of understanding how an estate agent works is to submit an enquiry to one of their properties. You will be surprised how many enquiries are not answered by estate agents so you need to think if that was your property would you want the agent that doesn’t respond selling it for you?
3. Service – Make sure you understand the service you will receive. When will you get feedback on viewings? will they always accompany viewings? how often will they contact you? It is also important to appreciate that in a lot of cases the estate agent you first meet will very rarely, if ever, do any of your viewings so make sure you know who will be and that they will be familiar with your property.
4. Contract – This is a big one but often overlooked. Nearly all estate agents have a contract that ties you in to using their services for a minimum period and this can often be 8, 10 or 12 weeks long. During that period, you are unable to change estate agent if for any reason you are unhappy, even at the end of the term you will have to give a minimum of two weeks’ notice. During COVID when houses were selling very quickly most home sellers didn’t need to worry but with a slowing market you should make sure you are not tied in so that if your agent of choice doesn’t deliver on their promises, you have an escape. One final point about contracts is that some agents will charge you a fee if you terminate their services at the end of the contract even if they haven’t found a buyer.
5. Coverage – Contrary to popular belief not every estate agent uses Rightmove and Zoopla. As the two biggest portals and the ones that attract most potential buyers, not having your property on one of them could make a difference. Of course, putting a property online is just one of the many things an estate agent can do to try and sell your home so make sure you know what they will pro-actively be doing in addition.
6. Fees – Rather than simply focusing on how much commission an agent may charge you should be factoring in the level of service one provides against another but also what plans an agent has to market your home in a way that gets the best price. One agent may be a few hundred pounds more than another but if they are more skilled and can get you a few thousand more for the property then you will be better off.