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Selling using an estate agent

Using an estate agent or solicitor


An estate agent or solicitor can look after the whole process of selling your property. They can do valuations, marketing, negotiate the sale price and the financial and legal process.

They can give professional advice like an appropriate asking price. They tend to know the type of buyer who would be interested in the property.  And they'll help tell you what to do to increase the chance of a sale.  If your property isn’t selling they could tell you if anything is putting off buyers and what to do about it.

It’s good to build a relationship with your estate agent or solicitor and contact them often for updates.  You need to trust them with a very valuable asset.  For example you can ask how viewings are going and for feedback after a viewing.  It’s good to keep your property at the top of your agent’s mind while it’s for sale.

Costs of selling your property


When you put your empty home up for sale you’ll need to budget for various costs. For example an Energy performance certificate (EPC). Also fees for marketing the property (brochure, online advertising, arranging viewings). There will be agents and legal fees for conveyancing and estate agent charges. These can be between roughly 1% and 3.5% for a sole agency agreement.  Remember this may not include VAT (at 20%).  You may also want to carry out repairs to the property first (see selling tips and repair tips).

Some agents don’t charge ‘upfront’ costs and only ask you to pay their fee once the property is sold.

How many agents do I need to sell my empty home?


You can have a sole agent, joint sole agents or multiple agents. Usually more agents would mean that you would reach more buyers which may get you the highest offers.  But you’ll also probably pay higher fees. 

Multiple agents may be best if there are lots of properties for sale in the area.  A  sole agent may be best if there are fewer for sale but lots of buyers. A joint sole agreement is when you choose two agents who split the sales commission between them.

It’s a good idea to research first which is the best option for you.

Which estate agent to choose?


Choosing the right agent is very important. The right agent could get a really good price but the wrong one could lose you a sale. Remember the agent works for you. Here are some ideas on how to choose the right one:

  • personal recommendation, friends, family and neighbours
  • stay local?  Benefits are that local agents know the area and it's easier for them to meet buyers. BUT if your property is unusual or expensive you could choose a national agent who specialises in homes like yours 
  • visit local estate agents and look for a house like yours.  How do the agents behave towards you?  Do they seem professional, competent, pushy or uninterested?
  • look at the sales brochures in the estate agents and on their website. How good are the photos and the text?  Do not underestimate the power of a photograph. If you’re unhappy with the photos, ask to change them

How will the agent market your property?


Good agents are usually proactive and invest in marketing a property to make sure it sells at the best price. Check to see if an agent:

  • would advertise in the papers?  (If so, which ones?) 
  • would advertise your property in their shop window and for how long?
  • if your property is more expensive, will they feature it in a national magazine or paper? 
  • what sales have they made recently on similar properties and how much did they sell for?
  • what is their viewing policy? Will they go to viewings with buyers?
  • make sure they advertise on the internet on one of the major property ‘portals’ like Rightmove, Zoopla or primelocation (see links below)
  • make a shortlist of about three agents and invite them to do a valuation of your property. Ask them the reasons for their valuation. But be CAREFUL, some agents will value the property higher than others to win your business.  They may be doing this to get more commission.  (The agent who gives the realistic valuation and impresses you most may be the best to choose)
  • ask them what they will do if your property doesn’t sell as well as expected? Are you happy with their reply?
  • are they open at weekends and able to carry out viewings with potential buyers?

Online estate agents


These can be much cheaper than local estate agents but there’s a big variety in price and quality. They usually advertise your property on websites like rightmove, zoopla or primelocation. If you choose this route try to get some local agents to value your home first. This will give you an idea of the rough price for your property. Some online agents will carry out viewings for you. Others may arrange a convenient time between you and a buyer. They may charge you for a ‘for sale’ board.

Selling your home yourself

You may choose this route and use a website which lets you list your property and market it to potential buyers. But they won’t be able to market your house on the big property portals like rightmove, zoopla or primelocation. This means your property may not be seen by so many prospective buyers. Although this seems like a cheaper way to sell your empty home, you may not get the best price and it may cost you more in the long run.