Selling property — what to ask estate agents

If you’re thinking of selling property and want some help, you may be considering engaging an estate agent’s services. Given that this involves a cost, there are questions that you may want to ask an agent when deciding whether to sign up with them. These may include the following:

How much do they charge?

Traditional estate agents typically charge a commission on the properties that they sell. What percentage of the selling price is this? Does it include VAT?

Are there any hidden or extra charges?

Some estate agents may charge extra for marketing or may have hidden fees, like penalties for opting out of your contract early. Bear in mind that the agent may not mention all of the charges involved – but these should be listed in your contract.

What types of contracts are available?

There are a few main types of contracts that you can have with an estate agent. These include:

  • Sole agency
    The estate agent has a right to their commission fee even if your contract with them has ended, as long as they were the ones who introduced the buyer to you.
  • Sole selling rights
    This gives the agent the right to their commission fee if your contract period isn’t up yet – even if the buyer was introduced to you by someone else, or if you found the buyer on your own.
  • Multi-agency
    This gives you the right to engage a number of estate agents. The one who introduces you to the person who buys your property will be the one who gets the fee. As multi-agency agreements mean more risk for the agent (they may not succeed in finding you a buyer), they tend to charge higher fees for this type of contract.
  • Ready, willing and able purchaser
    This agreement gives the agent the right to the selling fee as long as someone is clearly ready, willing and able to buy your property – even if the sale doesn’t go through.

How will they market your property?

It’s useful to know whether your estate agent will have a large reach when advertising your property. For example, they may list it on popular online portals.

When will viewings happen?

It’s important to know how much notice the agent will give you in advance before showing your property to a prospective buyer, especially if it will be occupied at the time.

Are they registered with ombudsman groups?

Bodies and schemes like The Property Ombudsman or NAEA Propertymark help to protect consumers and provide them with impartial services. If your estate agent is a member of these organisations, they have agreed to abide by their rules.

There are different ways in which you can sell your property. You may want to engage the services of an estate agent, or to do it yourself. If you’re thinking of signing up with an agent, it may be helpful for you to do some homework beforehand on the agreements that are being offered to you.

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