The growth of online property portals and the advent of fixed fee estate agents has changed the world of estate agents. It offers more choice and competition.
As fixed fee agents don’t operate high street shops their costs are lower. They claim to pass this to you but be aware that there can be substantial hidden charges. Purplebricks charges more if you don’t use their conveyancing company.
Which estate agent to use depends on :-
- maximising the achieved sales price,
- in the time scale you need,
- at the lowest cost.
- the track record of the estate agent
- the trust you place in them and their answers
The most important questions to ask an estate agent are
- what is their experience of selling similar homes
- in the last 12 months many similar homes have they sold in your area?
- how often are asking prices reduced and by how much?
- what’s the average length of time to sell similar homes?
- how did they arrive at the valuation of your property?
- do they have evidence to support that valuation?
- how many interested parties do they think they can generate on instruction
- which property portals do they use and why?
- how will they make your property stand out from the crowd?
A fixed fee estate agent may expect you to manage more of the process. In deciding to use a fixed fee estate agent, as well as these questions, think through: –
- exactly what you are expected to do
- how much you are prepared to do yourself, and
- how confident you are in handling those parts.
- what additional costs might apply – for example some fixed fee agents add as much as £360 if you don’t use their conveyancing company.
Knowledge is key so be cautious of any estate agent who can’t give you clear answers.
- Over 1.8m properties are marketed on Rightmove, Zoopla or one of the other property portals, so there is much more data on what a house may be worth.
- Researching other houses on the market in your area will allow you to test your agent’s knowledge.
- A truly knowledgeable agent is more likely to be able to give you a more accurate estimate of your home’s true value.
Cheapest can be good and most agents go about their business professionally. Some however, will inflate the sales value you should expect to get your business. They believe they can manage your expectations at a later date.
Fixed fee estate agents offer a very significant saving, often in the thousands, against a traditional high street estate agent. But remember the agent will charge the fee even if they do not sell your house. A lower than expected sales price may dwarf the saving in fees. There is controversy about the true number of house sales which the fixed fee agents actually complete and how many fail to sell.
In a market where houses move quickly and valuations more certain, it may be worth considering a fixed fee estate agent. If the market is slower, or the house price is lower, it may be better to use a traditional estate agent.
It’s worth noting that some estate agents offer both a traditional service as well as a fixed fee offer.
Download our form for Questions to ask an Estate Agent to help you interviewing prospective estate agents.
In selling your biggest asset, interview 3 or 4 estate agents to decide which agent and type of service is best for you. It will be worth the effort.