Selling your house can be a daunting task, especially if you have never done it before. There are lots of things to consider such as when you want to have it sold by, where you are going to be moving to, what price you are going to get and how the conveyancing process works. On top of that you also need to find an estate agent that you trust and can get you the best price. This post will show you what questions to ask estate agents in order to filter out the bad and instruct a good one.
In general, using an estate agent to help with the selling process can give you a very useful sounding board as to how to present the house for photos and viewings, value the property accurately as well as guiding you through the conveyancing process once they have also found a buyer for your property.
However, instructing an estate agent can be a difficult process in itself. There are over 17,000 estate agents actively listing properties in the UK alone and for your particular area there may be anything from 10 active local estate agents up to a couple of hundred if you are living in a relatively urban area. Picking the right estate agent to sell your property will determine how quickly your property sells and most importantly at what price.
As with all things, it’s often easier to avoid bad experiences by narrowing down the list of potential estate agents you take into consideration. Using past property sales data we can show you which estate agents have performed the best in your local area. The data will show you up to six estate agents, their market share, selling time, percentage of the asking price achieved and the fees they charge. You can also book in a free valuation with them at the click of a button.
Bonus Tip: Ask the Estate Agent questions without giving your name
Here at GetAgent we try to make everything as transparent as possible when it comes to selling your home. That’s why we offer an anonymising call forwarding number if you prefer to speak to the estate agents on the phone before your valuation. You can sound them out over the phone and you don’t need to leave them any of your personal details. Best of all, it’s completely free and you get the call details instantly!
Questions to Ask Estate Agents
That being said, when the estate agents come out to value your property there are a few must-ask questions. We have compiled a list of things that are useful to ask estate agents:
Can you show me comparable properties you have sold in my area?
This question may seem obvious but it’s surprising how many homeowners don’t check to see when estate agents last sold properties in their area. Having a good local market share will result in more buyers enquiring with the estate agent and also lead to a quicker sale. You can check the list of agents with the highest market share by punching in your postcode here.
What asking price do you achieve on a sale on average?
This is one of the most important questions to ask estate agents. In order to evaluate how good an estate agent is at valuing your home, ask them what percentage of the asking price they achieve on average. If they get close to 100% it means that they are on average valuing accurately.
Overvaluing your home can lead to a lengthy selling process as potential buyers will not even see your home when they put in their price ranges on the property portals. So don’t fall for the agent that promises you a very high price only to find that you will have to reduce the asking price after a few weeks or months because there is little buying interest.
If you want to verify what the estate agent tells you, check out our free comparison service. We compare all estate agents’ listings to the official selling prices on the land registry.
How long does it take to sell properties with you?
Great estate agents will tell you how quickly they sell property. Having the marketing materials and professional photos ready can really get buyers interested in your house. However, beware of the double edged sword of quick selling estate agents. If they sell much quicker than the average in the area, it could mean that they are actually just getting homeowners to accept the first offer that comes through. In some cases it’s worth holding out a little longer to see if someone else is willing to put in a higher bid.
Does the estate agent hold open houses?
Open houses can be a great way to attract buyers and get them bidding for your property. There’s nothing like a bit of competition between potential buyers and having them all view the property on the same day can drive a bit of ‘fear of missing out’ and spark a bidding war. Whilst this viewing method works best in urban areas, it can also work elsewhere and it is definitely worth asking the estate agent if that is something that they offer.
Who will conduct the viewings?
If the estate agent doesn’t hold open houses, it’s important to see who will conduct the viewings. There is nothing worse than having an inexperienced negotiator who has never set foot in your home try and sell it to a prospective buyer. Make sure that they know specifics about your property such as EPC ratings, council tax bands and the local amenities. The viewing experience needs to be top notch, whilst any stumbling blocks will give the potential buyer a reason not to put an offer in.
What are your estate agency fees and charges?
It’s important to know upfront what the estate agent will expect for helping you through the selling process. Make sure you get them to commit to a fee and remember that often estate agents will not quote the fee including VAT. So you may have to add 20% on top. Moreover, don’t forget to ask them whether the estate agent charges for extras such as EPCs, Floorplans, professional photos etc. That being said a good estate agent is worth the money as they may be able to get you a higher price by getting buyers bidding for your property and therefore leave you with more money in your pocket even after their fee has been paid.
Getting an upfront sales fee quote from any of your local estate agents is relatively easy and can be done at the click of a button, check out our free estate agent fee checker.
How often will you communicate and update me?
There is nothing more frustrating than having a prospective buyer view your home and then not receiving timely feedback from the estate agent. Make sure you ask them upfront how often they will provide updates. Also don’t hesitate to let them know that regular communication and feedback is important to you. If a prospective buyer is put off by something that is within your control, how are you going to know if the estate agent does not communicate that to you?
Can I see a copy of your contract in advance?
This is probably the second most important of questions to ask estate agents. When the estate agent does a valuation of your property, do ask if they can also bring a sample copy of the contract that you would sign on instruction. That way you can read through the terms beforehand and flag up anything you aren’t happy with before instruction. Often agents will try and sneak in something that may not work in your best interest.
Look out for whether the estate agent wants a tie-in period and check to see whether other local agents have a length to avoid being tied to one estate agent for too long. This is especially important if the estate agent turns out to be underperforming. Tie-in periods vary depending on your local area. Some estate agents offer no tie-in whilst in some areas the tie-in can be up to 6 months.
Mostly tie-in periods are linked to the average selling time in your local area (our free comparison service will show you average fees and selling times and market share of your local estate agents). But that doesn’t mean that you can’t negotiate the tie-in period away.
Checking contracts before you’ve made a decision on which estate agent to instruct will save you time and effort down the line.
If you do have any questions, GetAgent offers a free contract checking service if you have contacted the estate agent via our free comparison service.
Final points after you’ve asked these questions to estate agents
Whilst you can have as many questions to ask estate agents as you like ahead of instructing them, there can still be problems that creep up afterwards. In those cases your best bet will be to get in touch with the estate agent and voice your concerns with the Sales Manager or Branch Manager directly in a polite manner. If things don’t get resolved, you can lodge a formal complaint (in writing preferably) as the next step. It may also be worth checking out The Property Ombudsman which all estate agents are required to be a part of.
All in all, asking as many of these questions ahead will possibly save you a lot of time and hassle when selling your house. The right estate agent will make your property sale a breeze.