1. What qualities distinguish a competent real estate agent?
Selling a house is a major business in every way, so finding an estate agent you can trust to get you the best price and the best possibility of a sale is crucial. At Movewise, we think that a competent estate agent must possess three crucial characteristics:
For your house, a good list of possible purchasers
Any estate agent can display a photo of your tulum luxury condos for sale in their window, list it on Rightmove, and hope for the best. A skilled agent, on the other hand, will think of potential purchasers as soon as they see your home. This is why it’s critical to work with a company that sells a lot of homes comparable to yours; they’ll already have the contact information for people who were interested in those homes and are therefore likely to be interested in yours.
A willingness to take charge
That list of potential purchasers is only beneficial if the estate agent is willing and able to work hard to inform them about your home. Because estate agents are just human, they will prioritize the easiest transactions – such as a house that has been dramatically lowered in price due to a seller’s desperation. Similarly, while you want someone with a lot of buyers on their books, you don’t want them to have so many properties on their books that they can’t dedicate enough time to yours.
The ability to market your home in the best possible light
You’re counting on the estate agent to make a successful sales pitch for your home, so be sure they’re up to the task. This is where speaking with a real estate agent comes in handy. Do they strike you as sincere and well-informed? Friends and neighbors can provide referrals, but the best method to learn how your shortlisted estate agents interact with purchasers is to act as a buyer yourself. What do they show you if you appear to be looking for a house identical to yours? What kind of local knowledge do they have?
2. How do I narrow my options?
You know what makes a good agent and want to hire the finest, so don’t make the same mistakes that many sellers do when selling their house. Many people pick estate agents for the wrong reasons: according to a government survey on house buying and selling, the following are some of the most common reasons provided by sellers:
- “They are extremely close to my house.”
- “They had the lowest fees/commissions” “They provided me with the highest valuation” “They have a big branch network” “I utilized them to purchase this home”
Here are some of the most important factors to consider when selecting an estate agent:
Find the agent who is selling the most similar properties to yours.
This may seem contradictory, but some sellers are concerned that their home will blend in with other properties in the same postcode and price range. A local estate firm with a large number of homes similar to yours, on the other hand, is likely to have a large number of possible purchasers for that sort of property. “How much interest can this agency generate in my property?” is the single most crucial question to ask yourself while selecting which estate agents are the best. While you should not disregard customer evaluations or personal recommendations, it is significantly more prudent to rely on sales data. Do you continually seeing a certain estate agent’s ‘For sale’ boards in your neighborhood? Search online for similar-priced listings in your area, then make a shortlist of the agents in your area who have the most matches.
“How much interest can this agent generate in my property?” is the single most critical question you should ask yourself.
Inquire with the agent.
Pick up the phone and ask questions once you’ve narrowed down your choice of local agents. Get a sense of the agent’s initiative and enthusiasm: will they be able to motivate buyers? Inquire about the degree of interest in similar properties and whether they have applicants – or possible purchasers for your home – ready and waiting. Make sure you know how your property will be advertised, such as which property portals the company uses. Do the photos, floorplans, and brochures appear to be professionally done? See our complete guide to what makes a good estate agent for more information.
Obtain several estimates
It’s a good idea to have at least three estate agents value your home. Although opinions can differ greatly, it is not always smart to choose the highest figure. A home that is overvalued is likely to stay on the market for a long time, and price decreases (which appear on web searches) might be a warning flag for many buyers. A low valuation, on the other hand, may imply that you sell your house quickly but for a lower price.
Negotiate the price…
Whether or not you designate a lone agent will most likely determine the percentage you pay. A sole agency charges a cheaper cost, but your home is only advertised by one company. Because only the successful estate agent receives a fee when numerous agents are appointed, they may be more motivated to compete with one another to find a buyer – but because they risk losing their commission, they will ask a bigger proportion. For further details, see the joint vs. sole agent section below.
…but don’t let the % be the only consideration in your decision.
It’s easy to think of the % as the be-all and end-all, yet it’s simply one element of the puzzle. You may be put off by Agent B’s 0.5 percent higher charge than Agent A, but on a £1 million home, that’s £5,000, but if Agent B can sell it for £10,000 more than Agent A, it’s a no-brainer. Similarly, taking a long time to sell can result in you paying significantly more in fees (in rental rates, for example) – or perhaps missing out on a dream home.
3. Do I need to hire an internet real estate agent?
While we are delighted to buy food, clothes, and even cars on the internet these days, there appears to be a reluctance to become virtual when buying and selling our most valuable assets: our homes. Of course, we all check the property portals (Rightmove, Zoopla, and so on) and expect our properties to be advertised online, but online-only estate agents, which promised to obliterate high-street firms a few years ago, still account for only 5% of the UK property market.
On the surface, online estate agencies like Purplebricks and Yopa appear to be good value: they normally charge a fixed price up front, rather than the high-street firms’ ‘no sale, no fee’ percentage commission. (For more details, see our article on estate agent costs.) Some, like Strike and Doorsteps, provide free basic listings in exchange for extras like hosted viewings, premium professional photography, and boosted ads on Rightmove and Zoopla, as well as commission on mortgages, removals, and other services.
The fee you pay, however, is only one thing to consider. Movewise conducted a detailed review of UK property market data for nearly one million properties to see if internet firms offer good value for money when compared to their high-street counterparts. For each of three price ranges, we analyzed the sales rate, average time to sell, percentage of listings that experienced price decreases, and average size of those price reductions.
The findings are summarized here; the complete publication contains a detailed breakdown of our research.
How do the agents stack up?
Only 5% of sales are handled by an internet real estate agent. The majority of these internet listings (4.3 percent) are with paid agents (predominantly Purplebricks). At the upper end of the market, internet transactions are uncommon: only 1.2 percent of sellers utilized an online agency for properties over £1 million.
We looked at how many of the closed listings were taken off the market because they had sold rather than being withdrawn unsold to compute sales rates. In both the low and medium price ranges, fee-charging internet firms outperform high-street agents in terms of sales, while their performance drops dramatically with higher-value homes. The free firms perform worse than traditional agents, however the difference is minor on lower-value deals.
Paid internet agents, on average, take the same amount of time to sell as traditional agents, with no variance within price bands. The free internet firms do slightly better, particularly with mid-range properties, despite having a far smaller number of postings. There is insufficient data from free enterprises to allow comparison in high-end sales.
Keep in mind that the “time to sell” metric only pertains to homes that have sold, and does not include residences that have been withdrawn or are still on the market.
Price reductions are seen in 35% of both paid and free internet listings, which is much higher than the total market average of 25%, indicating that these properties may not sell for the greatest price. The average price decrease for paid online firms is 4.2 percent, and for free online firms is 4.8 percent, both slightly lower than the median 5.4 percent price drop seen in reduced listings, but all are significantly greater for £1 million-plus listings.
What do the numbers say?
An online agency may be worth considering for less expensive houses.
The distinction between paid and free internet service providers is insufficient to justify paying for one.
Online agents have a poor track record when it comes to more expensive houses.
At first glance, internet estate agents’ sales rates appear to be quite good, particularly in the lower price range. On houses under £1 million, paid internet firms outperform traditional brokers, and free online firms can virtually match the high street in the lowest price range.
The sales rate, on the other hand, is based on closed listings, which are either sold or removed from the market without being sold. People who pay an upfront price to an internet firm are less likely to cancel the listing than those who pay a fee just after it is completed.
As a result, the sales rate should be considered in conjunction with the other information. When properties do sell, the numbers demonstrate that there is little difference between traditional and paid online firms: a few days make little difference when the average time to sell is more than five months. According to this data from the last 180 days, free internet agents close deals more faster than traditional firms or their paid online competitors.
Price reductions are one area where internet agencies fall short for vendors. Internet listings are 40% more likely than the market average to require a price reduction (35 percent of listings, compared with 25 percent ). However, the average reduction is slightly lower than for high-street businesses.
Our research shows that online agents are not well-suited to selling more expensive houses. Few sellers in the £1 million+ bracket use them, and those who do are more likely to have a less successful sale than if they used a carefully selected local agency. Using an internet firm, on the other hand, could be a smart option for less expensive residences. If you do decide to take the internet route, we believe there is no benefit in going with the premium alternative, as the free companies also do well at the lower end of the market.
4. Should I hire a single agent or a team of agents?
Is it better to utilize multiple estate agents or to pick one and stick with it? It’s a common question, and it’s easy to believe that having two (or more) heads is preferable to having one. However, it isn’t always as straightforward as that. When deciding between single, joint, or multiple agents, keep the following points in mind: See our complete guide for more details.
What are the differences between sole, joint sole, and multiple agents?
Sole agents imply that a single estate agency has sole authority to sell your home. When you sign up with a lone agency, you’ll normally be locked into a 12-week or longer exclusivity deal. You must pay the agent commission if you sell your home within this time frame, even if the agency did not discover the buyer.
Alternatively, you can hire many agents, in which case the various agencies (three or more) will compete to sell your home, with just the winning agency receiving a commission.
Appointing joint sole agents is a middle ground between these two approaches. This entails selecting two or three companies that collaborate more. Frequently, they will agree to split the commission, with the firm that secures the deal receiving a larger percentage. Selling a prime country property, where the vendor may choose to select both a local and a high-end national agent, is an example of when this approach might be ideal.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing a single agent?
The first benefit is the cost. Because the agent does not have to compete with other agents to sell your home (at least for the duration of the exclusivity period), they are more inclined to agree to a lower charge (see below for our guide to fees). You won’t have to coordinate viewings from various firms, supply several sets of keys, complete multiple anti-money laundering checks, and so on if you use a single agent.
On the flipside, listing with a single agency will likely result in reaching fewer potential buyers and, as a result, a lengthier time waiting for a sale. This is less true nowadays than it was in the past: most agents will list your property on Rightmove and/or Zoopla, resulting in a lot more people seeing it. The portals, on the other hand, are no substitute for an agent who has a good list of possible purchasers. Indeed, we anticipate that 50% of the interest in your home will come from the agent’s existing applicant list rather than from those who find it online.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if the agent does not perform as expected, you will be stuck with them for the term of the contract. You will be responsible for the original agent’s charge even if you use another agent or sell privately within this time. Before signing, make sure you read the contract thoroughly: it’s not uncommon for agencies to specify sole selling rights for up to a year.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of employing several agents?
Using more than one estate agent has the advantage of the firms vying for the commission. This may indicate that they will work harder and more quickly to sell your home than a solo agent who is protected by a long exclusivity agreement. Another advantage is that each agency will have their own applicant list, which equals more purchasers. A professional estate agent will send details of your house to purchasers who may not have thought to look in your specific location, making it unlikely that they will find it in online searches.
The main downside is the cost: multi-agent fees are normally around twice as much as a lone agent (2.5 percent -3 percent plus VAT). Of However, if you can sell your home faster or for a greater price by utilizing numerous agents, you could still make a profit, but you must weigh the expense against the reward. Another disadvantage is the inconvenient nature of dealing with multiple agents. Because of the competitive nature of a multi-agency sale, they may pressurize you to accept a low offer rather than risk losing the sale to another agent.
What about lone agents who work together?
A joint sole agency agreement is typically utilized for more unusual or high-end properties: for example, a prime country estate in the Cotswolds might be advertised by a local agent as well as a large national business that can stimulate interest through newspaper coverage and targeting international investors. This method is less likely to be beneficial for more common properties.
The charge will almost certainly be higher than that of a solo agent, but cheaper than that of numerous agents. Because they are cooperating rather than competing, the two agents will usually agree to split the commission. Although the successful selling agency may receive a larger portion of the fee, there is still a risk that the agents will work less hard because they will still be paid if the other firm secures a sale.
So, which method is the most effective?
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. It will be determined by several criteria, including the property’s distinctiveness, the state of the market, and whether you are in a hurry to sell or can afford to wait for the best offer. For many suppliers, hiring a sole agent from the start is a sensible idea, as long as they can negotiate a reasonable charge and a short exclusivity period. After an agent has made the initial push to sell your house and exhausted their contact list, they may lose interest and shift their focus to fresher listings; high-street agents typically only sell half of the properties on their books. Consider relisting with various agents if you’ve been unsuccessful with a single agency.
5. How much should real estate brokers charge, and how should I bargain?
We’ve already established that fees aren’t the most important factor to consider when selecting an agency, but with the average house in the UK now costing over a quarter of a million pounds, even a fraction of a percentage point can add up to a significant sum.
On a daily basis, Movewise negotiates fees with estate agents on behalf of our customers. That, combined with the fact that our team is mostly made up of former real estate agents, means we’re in a good position to give you an unbiased opinion on this important issue for property sellers. The essential issues are listed below; for more information, visit our comprehensive guide to estate agent fees, which has been revised for 2021.
For a sole agency arrangement, the average estate agent charge in the UK is 1.18 percent Plus VAT. It is usually higher in London.
When conversing with agents, keep an eye out for hidden expenses. Photos, floorplans, marketing, and controlled viewings should all be included in their charge.
Be wary of estate agents who charge less than 1% commission — there’s a reason they’re so low.
You should always choose for no sale, no fee because estate agents only sell roughly half of the houses on their books, so don’t gamble with such a large investment.
Always negotiate the fee: for more information on how to do so, check our complete guide to negotiation.
With a traditional agent, a multi-agency contract (which generally results in higher selling prices) can be more expensive; however, this is not the case with Movewise.
The fundamentals of real agent commissions and contract clauses
The majority of estate agents charge a commission based on a percentage of the sale price of your home. Depending on the sort of contract you choose with your estate agent, this might range from 0.75 percent to 3.0 percent +VAT.
The average estate agent charge for a solo agency contract is 1.18 percent + VAT, or 1.42 percent including VAT, according to TheAdvisory. That means you’ll pay the agent £3,905 if your home sells for £275,000. This is, in our opinion, reasonable value for money. Agents are typically willing to accept lesser fees for higher-value houses, such as those over £500,000.
If you’re looking to sell in London, keep in mind that estate agency costs, like most everything in the city, are more expensive.
The % fee concept has some exceptions. Agents may charge a flat fee instead, especially for less expensive properties.
It’s critical to check the conditions of the agent’s contract in addition to asking about costs. Pay special attention to the exclusive agency lock-in period, which varies greatly between agents and can be rather lengthy. If things don’t go as planned (which regrettably happens more often than you’d imagine), these terms may restrict you from moving on to another agent.
You should also keep an eye out for exclusive selling rights. Think twice before signing a contract that provides the agency sole selling rights. If you sign it, the estate agent named in the contract will be the only one who can sell your home within the time frame specified. Even if you find a buyer on your own, you’ll have to pay the estate agent.
What is included in the package? What about extras that aren’t readily apparent?
The services included by the basic costs differ per agent, which is why it’s crucial to inquire. Online estate agencies, in example, frequently offer cheaper (or even free) packages, however they may not be as complete in terms of services given. (For further information about online agents, see the section above.)
The following items should be included in the fee in general:
- Your property will be valued based on research into the local market, trends, and previous sales data.
- Creating floor plans.
- Photographing your home in a professional manner.
- Creating a captivating textual description of your home.
- Putting up a For Sale sign.
- This is critical: generating interest from their own list of qualified purchasers.
- The house will be advertised on property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, as well as more traditional methods such as their own windows, newspaper ads, and so on.
- Organizing public viewings (and usually managing them too).
- Negotiating the price of a sale.
The price is also designed to support their own running costs, such as office leasing, fleet cars, and so on.
When comparing fees, make sure to look for any hidden prices or ‘added extras’ that you would expect to be included. The first ‘gotcha’ may be VAT, which is added on top of the base commission at a rate of 20%. Estate agents are required to mention whether or not their fees include VAT. But, if the agent doesn’t say so right away, double-check this.
You should also be aware that, as required by The Property Ombudsman, agents must express their charge as an actual number based on the asking price in their contract; however, the real commission you pay will be based on the negotiated selling price, which may be different.
The estate agent is legally compelled to tell you what is included in their charge – never assume, always ask. If you’re being quoted additional up-front registration fees, photo fees, advertising expenses, or marketing incentive fees, shop around. You should not be required to pay these fees.
Furthermore, there should be no “withdrawal costs” – in other words, you should not be charged if you change your mind and decide not to sell your home.
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which costs between £60 and £120, is one additional fee you may have to pay (including VAT). You may not even need to purchase one as part of your selling. EPCs have a 10-year shelf life, so if yours is still valid after that time, you’re fine to go. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to commission one before an estate agent can advertise your home.
How to Agree on Fees
It’s time to bargain after you’ve determined how much the agent wants to charge and what the cost entails. Here’s a quick rundown: For more information, visit our complete guide.
Speak with the agent during the appraisal or immediately afterward. They will have a better notion of the target market and how easy it will be to sell once they have viewed your property in person. If the agent is enthusiastic and believes the sale will be simple, they may be willing to negotiate the charge, but this is not always the case. Be skeptical of agents who give a significant discount right once, as this could indicate that they are anxious for business. You want to pay enough to entice the agent to put in the effort: it’s pointless to negotiate a 0.25 percent fee reduction if you wind up needing to lower your asking price by 5%.
Obtain valuations from three area estate agents and compare them to see if any of them will match a cheaper offer. If an agent refuses to lower their charge outright, you could propose a sliding scale, in which they receive the whole commission if a sale exceeds a particular level.
Most agents will want to sign an exclusivity agreement with you, giving them the authority to sell your home during that time. A standard exclusivity term is 12 weeks; if you’re selling a high-end property, brokers will be more inclined to negotiate on this.
Consider what will happen at the end of the exclusivity period if you are unable to lower it. Would the agent lower the commission in exchange for a lower asking price to make the house easier to sell? Or could you bring in a new agent while maintaining the same fee? After the agent has worked hard to market your home, they will not want to lose it, putting you in a better position.
6. How do I know when it’s time to switch agents?
One of the most common causes of house sales failure is a non-performing estate agent. So, in all likelihood, you’ll need to switch real estate agents. That may appear to be an easy task, but sellers frequently find it to be more difficult than they anticipated. Here’s how you can do it: See our full post on shifting real estate agents for additional details.
It’s difficult to identify the difference between good and terrible estate agents, but maybe this information has helped. We’ve also shown you how to spot clauses in agents’ terms and conditions that can make it difficult to get out of a sticky situation if the sale doesn’t go as planned.
Even if you hire an agent with great care, things don’t always go as planned. Perhaps you began the sales process with high hopes, and your agent was ecstatic to get you a flurry of viewings right away. They also provided you with a lot of detailed feedback on how things were going. However, you’ve been on the line for a long and they haven’t called you. It’s been a while since the last viewing, and when you contact the agent, you’re treated as if you’re bothering them. It’s an all-too-common circumstance.
How will I know when it’s time to make the switch?
If you answered yes to any or all of the following questions, you may be very sure your real estate agent isn’t doing his or her job:
Do you find yourself making a lot of excuses?
Among the most common are: “The market has slowed significantly”; “Now is not the time to sell.” Things should pick up in a few months”; “The weather has prompted everyone to stay at home instead of going to viewings.” “etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc These reasons may be reasonable at times, but it’s critical that you don’t just nod along with everything they say.
Have you seen a decrease in the number of people who want to see your work?
Every week, you should aim for multiple viewings. Something needs to change if this isn’t happening.
Have you been advised to lower your asking price?
This is usually an agent’s first response to your issue. This is aggravating, especially because they were the ones who recommended the asking price in the first place. It’s also not the ideal answer.
Is it difficult for you to contact them?
If they’re always “out of the office” or don’t answer their phone, you know something isn’t right. If it appears that they are attempting to avoid you, they most likely are.
Is it okay if I get rid of them?
The first thing you should do is review your contract’s terms and conditions. It’s unlikely that your agent mentioned it when you signed, but you could be caught in an exclusivity period. If that’s the case, there’s not much you can do right now. You can, however, make preparations for when it ends. If you’re one of the fortunate ones who isn’t confined, don’t waste any more time. It’s time to consider your next step.
And make sure you don’t commit the same error repeatedly while switching agents. There is a more effective technique to sell.
7. Use Movewise to find a better approach to sell.
Movewise has created a new approach to sell real estate. Because we’ve worked out how to avoid the estate agency trap, we can help consumers sell their properties faster and for more money. And the numbers back us up: we outperform traditional agents in every sales metric.
Here’s how to obtain a rapid sale at a good price using our tried-and-true method:
Based on impartial statistics, select the best real estate agent. As previously said, this does not simply imply selecting the agent with the lowest fees or one who has been suggested to you by a friend. This entails switching to an agent with a track record of selling properties similar to yours and interviewing them to ensure you’re getting the genuine deal.
Negotiate a fair amount and ensure that there is no exclusive condition. If you have the right knowledge, you can negotiate estate agent fees down significantly. Even with our fee added on top, we find that our customers pay less in total than they would if they managed the process themselves (we play hardball!). Furthermore, by removing the exclusivity restriction, you will be able to benefit from the following suggestions.
Keep an eye on things. Take action right away if viewings and offers aren’t what you expected. This could mean relisting or immediately hiring a second agent. Because what you do will be determined by your unique circumstances, it’s critical to get professional advice.
Rather than lowering the fee, hire a second agent. We can’t stress this enough: lowering the price of your home shouldn’t be your first option for selling it. If the house is still unsold after 4-6 weeks, bringing in a second agency exposes you to a whole new range of purchasers (it’s not only about Rightmove, remember).
This maintains the enthusiasm and momentum, as well as creating rivalry among the brokers to attract more potential buyers.
Once you’ve received an offer, see it through to the end. This entails pursuing local searches, staying on top of your lawyers, and ensuring that all inquiries are promptly answered.
Never assume that just because something is under offer, it means the job is done. You must continue to push things forward to the very end.