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Questions to ask an estate agent when selling a home

(Last Updated: 14/06/2024)
13 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Homeowners who sell without an estate agent must handle everything from marketing and viewings to negotiations and legal paperwork.
  • Top Tip: Once you’ve chosen an estate agent, continue to ask questions to stay informed and involved in the selling process.
  • Effective communication and a clear understanding of roles are vital when dealing with estate agents.
  • The key to a successful property sale lies in choosing the right estate agent, staying engaged throughout the process, and being clear about your goals and expectations.

Selling a property is a significant decision; while many homeowners choose to appoint an estate agent to help navigate the process, it’s crucial to ensure you select the correct one that represents your interests.

Asking the right questions can help you make an informed decision, leading to a smoother and more successful sale. We’ll cover the essential questions to ask an estate agent when selling your home in the UK and explore alternatives, such as selling your house without an estate agent.

Why use an estate agent?

It’s important to understand why many homeowners opt to use an estate agent:

  • Expertise and experience – estate agents bring a wealth of knowledge about the local property market, pricing strategies, and marketing techniques.
  • Time-saving – they handle the legwork involved in property viewings, negotiations, and paperwork, saving you time and effort.
  • Negotiation skills – estate agents are skilled negotiators who can help you achieve the best price for your property.
  • Wide reach – they have access to marketing tools and platforms that can attract a broader audience of potential buyers.
A couple shaking hands with an estate agent after a viewing. Learn about the questions to ask estate agents when selling with SAM Conveyancing.

Questions for estate agents before selling

When selecting an estate agent, asking the right questions can help ensure you find a reliable and effective partner. Here are the essential questions to ask estate agents:

What experience do you have in selling properties like mine?

You will want to ensure that the chosen estate agent knows your local market area well. Understanding an agent’s experience with similar properties in your local area can provide insight into their suitability for your sale. If they have a decent track record of success, they might be the right agent to handle your sale.

How will you determine the asking price?

Ask about their pricing strategy and how they plan to balance attracting buyers with achieving a fair price. You'll want to sell your property for the best price but without pricing out buyers in the market.

Estate agents will easily be able to provide a general view of how much your property is worth by drawing upon their knowledge of the area, other properties, and the type of property you're selling. A good estate agent will be able to advise on any tweaks or home improvements that you could make to potentially achieve a higher asking price.

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What marketing strategies will you use?

Inquire about the platforms and methods they will use to market your property, including online listings, social media, and traditional advertising. Using an experienced estate agent who can effectively utilise all forms of marketing strategies will ensure you cover most if not all, bases to attract buyers.

You can expect online agents will advertise with sites like Rightmove and Zoopla, but it's worth asking the estate agent if they have other ideas on how to generate interest in your property.

How will you conduct viewings?

Clarify whether they will accompany potential buyers during viewings and how they will manage these appointments. This will allow you peace of mind that you won't have to try and sell the property yourself during viewings, and that the agent will take a more hands-on approach.

A high street estate agent will likely conduct viewings themselves, but these will usually be during their office hours. However, if a viewing is arranged for out of hours, the homeowner may need to conduct this themselves.

If you opt to use an online estate agent, all the viewings will need to be conducted by you unless you have paid for hosted viewings.

What type of contract do you use?

Each estate agency will have its preferred way of working and each type of contract has its pros and cons, so make sure you know what you will be getting into.

  • Sole selling rights - this means that the estate agent in the contract is the only one allowed to sell the property during the stipulated period. No other agents can market or sell the property during this time. Be sure to ask how long the exclusivity period is, and the clause(s) available in case they don't sell your property (i.e switching to another agent).
  • Ready, willing, and able purchaser - some agents will include this in the contract, meaning you will need to pay the agent regardless of whether you sell or not but as long as they have found a buyer.
  • Multi-agency - you're able to use as many agents as you want, only paying a commission to the one who sells the property. This means that you'll be able to reach a lot more potential buyers, but the fee paid after completion will be higher.
An exchange contract. SAM Conveyancing helps you with questions to ask your estate agent when selling. We help sell properties.

What estate agent fees are there?

Understand how you will pay the fees and how they are structured, including any additional marketing costs, and whether their fees are negotiable. Perhaps they offer a 'no sale no fee' policy, but it's essential to plan out how much you're likely to spend on selling your home.

The big question to ask estate agents when selling is: what will the percentage fee be?

This percentage can range from 0.9% to 3.6% (inc VAT) of the sale price, depending on the sole agency contract. For a higher-value property, you may be able to negotiate with the agent on the percentage.

Most agents will suggest getting sole selling rights for a certain period (usually 12 weeks or so). After this has expired, you can then move to another agent or explore marketing with more than one agent. However, be wary of the percentage fee when going for a multi-agency sale, as this will typically be more than if using just a sole agency.

Commonly, estate agents will include the following as part of their fee:

  • A valuation of the property.
  • Professional photographs.
  • A written description of the property including floorplans.
  • A 'For Sale' board.
  • Contacting their list of active buyers in the market.
  • Marketing your house on property portals (Rightmove, Zoopla etc.)
  • Organising and managing viewings.
  • Negotiating the asking price.

Always ask about these costs, though, as some estate agent contracts might not include every one of these.

Most online estate agents' fees are typically paid up-front or via a payment plan, meaning you will have to pay estate agent fees whether you complete the sale or not. Upfront fees can be beneficial, but bear in mind that these will be paid before the sale. Most of the time, the estate agent contract will state that they will invoice your conveyancer and then the bill will be paid out of the sale returns.

The estate agent's suggested conveyancer

You don't have to go with your agent's preferred or suggested conveyancer! Do your own research before instructing a solicitor for your sale.

How long is your average sale time?

This can give you an idea of how quickly they typically sell similar properties to yours. If you're after a quick sale, enlisting an estate agent who takes their time will not be for you.

Most estate agents will have some data to share with you on their sale times and a good agent will give you an idea of the probability of achieving the asking price.

What trade bodies are you a member of?

There are memberships that provide buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants with peace of mind and assurances that they will receive the best possible service. These include, but are not limited to: The Property Ombudsman (TPO), the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), and the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

Do you have a list of potential buyers?

An established agent may already have a list of potential buyers, which can speed up the sale process. Be sure to ask if their entire list receives all the properties currently on the market, and ask how many buyers in total they have on their books.

What happens if the property doesn’t sell within the contract period?

Discuss contingency plans and what steps will be taken if the property remains unsold after the agreed period.

Can you provide references from previous clients?

Speaking to past clients can provide valuable insights into the agent’s effectiveness and professionalism.

How will you keep me informed?

Regular communication is key, so ensure the agent will keep you updated on progress and any developments.

A potential buyer using binoculars. SAM Conveyancing helps with questions to ask estate agents so your property sells.

Can I sell my house without an estate agent?

Selling a property with the assistance of an estate agent offers numerous advantages, such as industry expertise, wider exposure to potential buyers, and professional guidance throughout the selling process.

However, some homeowners may choose to sell their property independently through a method known as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). This approach can lead to savings on estate agent fees but requires a substantial investment of time and effort.

When opting for FSBO, homeowners take on the responsibility of handling various aspects of the selling process. This includes creating and implementing a marketing strategy to attract potential buyers, conducting property viewings, negotiating with interested parties, and managing all legal paperwork associated with the sale.

While FSBO can potentially save money on commission fees, you'd need a deep understanding of the real estate market, effective marketing techniques, strong negotiation skills, and a thorough knowledge of legal requirements and documentation.

Homeowners who choose this route should be prepared to dedicate significant time and effort to successfully navigate the complexities of selling a property.

What to ask estate agents when selling

Once you’ve chosen an estate agent, continue to ask questions to stay informed and involved in the selling process:

What feedback have you received from viewings?

Regular feedback can help you make necessary adjustments to improve your property’s appeal. This could be simple like furniture rearrangement, or if your agent suggests, extending the leasehold of the property if it is under 90 years.

A good agent will help you take steps to make your property more attractive to buyers before viewings take place.

Are there any offers?

Stay updated on any offers made and discuss the agent’s opinion on how to respond. The agent's knowledge and experience should come into play here if an offer is made, as negotiations are likely and you (and the agent) will want the property to sell at a higher price.

How are you following up with potential buyers?

Ensure the agent is actively following up with interested parties to gauge their level of interest. They should tell you about their database of potential buyers and provide a detailed description of how they categorise their clients.

What are the next steps?

Understand the steps involved once an offer is accepted, including the conveyancing process and timelines.

How to deal with estate agents when selling

Effective communication and a clear understanding of roles are vital when dealing with estate agents. Here are some tips:

  • Be clear about your expectations – from the outset, communicate your goals and expectations regarding the sale price, timeline, and any specific requirements.
  • Maintain regular contact – regular check-ins can help you stay informed and address any concerns promptly.
  • Be responsive – timely responses to your agent’s inquiries and requests can facilitate a smoother process.
  • Stay informed – educate yourself about the selling process and market conditions to make informed decisions. Check recently sold properties in the same price bracket in your area.
  • Negotiate terms – don’t hesitate to negotiate the terms of your agreement, including fees and contract length.
An estate agent handing over the keys to a property ready with a finance agreement being signed. SAM Conveyancing can help with traditional high street agents

Questions to ask when selling your home

Let’s run through some questions to ask yourself during the selling process, or even before deciding to sell your home.

Is now the right time to sell?

Consider local market conditions, your financial situation, and personal circumstances. Timing is everything when it comes to the housing market, and whilst you might be tempted to list your house to test the waters, be wary that a listing that has been up for a long time can put off possible buyers.

What is my property worth?

Obtain a valuation from multiple sources to get a realistic idea of your property’s value. Calling up other estate agents or checking online property portals for homes sold recently can give you an idea.

What improvements can I make to increase my home’s appeal?

Small improvements can significantly enhance your property’s marketability and value. You could have been putting off a home improvement project for a few months or you might just need to rearrange or refresh your furniture.

It could be as simple as removing personal photos or implementing a more neutral colour scheme. Even the smallest change could be the difference between selling or not.

Am I prepared for the costs involved?

Selling a home involves legal fees, moving expenses, and potential repairs. Make sure you have mapped everything out to the last detail, and even set aside some funds for the more unexpected expenses that could crop up.

Where will I move next?

Have a plan for your next home to avoid unnecessary stress and delays. A complicated onward chain can be a deal breaker for some target buyers, so having this all in place will ensure a smooth transition for everyone.

Selling your home is a major decision that requires careful planning and consideration. By asking the right questions and maintaining effective communication with your estate agent, you can navigate the process more smoothly and achieve a successful sale. Whether you work with an estate agent or explore the FSBO route, being well-informed and prepared will help you make the best decisions for your circumstances.

Remember, the key to a successful property sale lies in choosing the right estate agent, staying engaged throughout the process, and being clear about your goals and expectations. With these strategies in hand, you’ll be well on your way to a successful and stress-free sale.

If you’re considering selling your property and need expert advice, our conveyancing services can provide you with the support and guidance you need. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve your property goals.

Two people exchanging contracts. SAM Conveyancing helps with questions to ask your estate agent, agent's fees, and the sales process.

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Written by:

Jack is our resident Content Writer with a wealth of experience in Marketing, Content, and Film. If you need anything written or proof-read at a rapid speed and high quality, he's your guy

Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
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Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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