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5 Tips for Choosing a Reliable Estate Agent

ByDave Stopher

Nov 28, 2021

According to a recent MORI poll, estate agents are one of the five least-trusted professions, along with politicians and journalists. 

But are all estate agents really unreliable, commission-hungry and morally bankrupt? Are they all out to get your business no matter what dodgy sales tactics they have to employ to get it? 

As with any profession, there are both reliable, credible individuals and those who should send you running in the opposite direction. So, how can you tell the difference between a reliable estate agent and an unethical, possibly inept one?

  • Ask Around

Word-of-mouth is one of the oldest forms of advertising, and customer recommendations still hold a lot of sway for many people when it comes to choosing products and services. Do you check Trustpilot, Feefo and Amazon reviews before buying a product? If a company has poor Google reviews, do you skip on to a competitor? Finding a reliable estate agent is no different.

For most of us, property is our biggest investment and the most valuable asset we will ever own. Why wouldn’t you ask for recommendations from family and friends to help you pick a reliable estate agent?

  • Check Their Credentials

Look on the website and in any marketing literature; you have to check if the estate agent is a regulated member of a professional body. Two of the most common trade bodies in the UK are the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). If an agency displays the NAEA Propertymark logo, you will be guaranteed a certain level of consumer protection and independent redress if you have a complaint.

Also, look out for awards and recognition in the local press. These may be a good indicator of the type and standard of the service on offer. 

  • Scrutinise Contracts and Fee Structures

Think about your priorities and objectives. Are you looking for the most affordable option, or is it more important to you that the estate agent you hire can provide a premium service? Is it important to you that your agent is local with a shop you can walk into for face-to-face meetings, or would you be happy liaising with an online or hybrid agency? Create a shortlist of estate agents and invite your top three or four to outline their offer. 

Some agencies may offer lower fees if you sign a contract that gives them exclusive rights to selling your property for a fixed period. Others will charge more but allow you the freedom to hire multiple agents simultaneously. There can also be a significant discrepancy in the type and amount of commission charge — some realtors charge a flat rate to sell your home, whereas high street agents tend to take a percentage of the sale price. There’s no “right” way, but you should take the time to find the right approach for your goals and requirements to avoid disappointment.

  • Find Out What Services They Offer

Not all estate agents are created equal. If you have a specific requirement that falls outside the norm or a service of particular importance to you, make sure that the agency you use can meet your needs. 

If an agency has gone all out to deliver a comprehensive service that makes selling and buying property a breeze, this demonstrates a commitment to customer care which is reassuring. If an estate agent has built up partnerships to benefit you, for example, working with mortgage advisers and house part-exchange companies, this is a good sign.

  • Ask These Questions

There are a handful of questions you should ask all the estate agents on your shortlist. The answers will help you choose which one you can rely on to deliver the service you need.

  • What is the fee if I give you exclusive rights (a sole agency agreement) to selling my property, and how long am I tied in for? 
  • How much is your fee for a multi-agency agreement?
  • Have you sold any properties similar to mine recently, and if so, how long did it take to achieve the asking price?
  • How do you value properties? 
  • Is the cost of hosting viewings included in your standard fee?
  • How and where will you advertise my property?
  • How long has the agency been in business?

There are plenty of reliable estate agents to choose from, and finding the right one for your needs is easy if you know the right questions to ask. Shop around, ask for recommendations and check the terms and conditions before committing to increase your chances of having a positive experience.