Ask for recommendations
The best place to start when searching for a good estate agent is by asking family and friends who have recently moved who they used and what they thought.
You want to find an agent who is well established in your area with good local knowledge and a good reputation.
It’s worth looking out for 'for sale' and 'sold' signs, as this is a useful indicator of which agents are favoured – and which ones seem to get results. Also find out about each firm’s network and expertise.
Avoid the six sneaky tricks estate agents might try.
Check their credentials
Once you’ve drawn up a shortlist, you should check that each of those agents is signed up to a redress scheme, such as The Property Ombudsman Service.
Many agents will also be members of trade bodies – such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – which means they have to comply with a code of conduct.
You should be able to find details on the agent’s website.
Invite three agents in
Having done your research, you should get three agents to come to your home to value it.
Do not allow yourself to get seduced by the agent that gives you the highest price, as this could be a ploy to win your business. An agent needs to be able to demonstrate how they arrived at that figure using four or five comparables.
Find out how they will market your home
Ask each agent how they plan on marketing your home. It is important that the one you eventually choose advertises on the major web portals.
Also ask to see some of their brochures to check the quality of the pictures and floor plans, and check that the website is easy to use.
Read our guide to turning viewers into buyers.
See what kind of service is offered
Don’t be afraid of asking lots of ask questions about the service offered. This includes finding out how easy it will be to get hold of your agent, and how often they will update you on their progress. As a seller, you need to be fully involved and informed at all times.
You also need to trust that the agent is batting for you, not the buyer.
Check out the charges
Most estate agents calculate their fees as a percentage of the final selling price.
But you need to decide whether to go for 'sole agency' where one firm has the exclusive right to market your home for a fixed period. Most people start out with this option; the charge is usually between 1.5% and 2%.
The alternative is a 'joint agency' or 'multi-agency' agreement where you get more than one firm to help you sell. This means your property is likely to get more exposure, but the fee may well be closer to 3%.
Whatever you decide, don’t be afraid to haggle on price.
And do not sign on the dotted line until you have scoured the small print. Be sure to check how long you are tied in for, and whether you can move elsewhere if you’re not happy.
Cut out the estate agent?
Finally, while sellers have traditionally appointed a high-street agent, there are now big savings to be made by selling your property yourself
If you go down this route, you will have to do a lot of the legwork yourself. This includes setting the price, marketing the property, arranging viewings, negotiating with potential buyers, and dealing with the process of exchange and completion.
This will require a lot of time and effort, but could save you a fortune in estate agent fees.
Helpfully, there are now a host of sites you can use to help you go it alone, such as Houseweb.co.uk and Tepilo.com