How Selling or buying your home through an Estate agent works

When it’s time to buy or sell your new home, choosing the right estate agent could save you thousands of pounds and the wrong one could inadvertently cost you thousands of pounds and if not that at least your precious time.

In this guide we will cover what you should look for when choosing an estate agent and what to expect from estate agents, their fees, how long the process may take etc.

We will also cover other alternatives when looking to buy or sell.

Estate agents manage almost all things to do with property. If you want to sell, rent or buy then an estate agent will likely have a range of services that cover all of those activities. This will include conveyancing , marketing a property to be let out, mortgage brokering and much more.

An estate agent will be responsible for:

  • managing all the paperwork relating to any house transaction
  • keeping accounts on rented properties
  • liaising with relevant solicitors when managing a property or dealing with a transaction
  • marketing properties for sell or rent
  • dealing with buyers to gain the best price

Estate agents may not necessarily do all the services they advertise in house. In most cases, they will simply recommend or introduce you to a partner firm they work with.

You do not have to accept these introductions as it is very likely you could find cheaper rates by searching the market yourself.

Estate agents will always try and do things in a timely manner but the property market tends to move a bit slower than others.

Before you choose an estate agent ensure you do a Google search and ask locally if possible to get any possible feedback or reviews about them. You should also ask them how they intend to market your property and for how long.

Estate agent fees will vary by estate agent but there are now more competitive online estate agents such as purplebricks.

When buying a property you will only be responsible for the cost of the property. If you are selling a property and hire an estate agent to manage this process for you then you will pay a fee which is between 0.5% to 4% of the price the property sells for.

Ensure the fee the agent charges you includes VAT.

The fees estate agents charge gives the Estate agents an incentive to sell your property for a high price but they will also have to find the balance between a great price and the amount of time you are willing to wait for a buyer.

You should also be aware of Estate agents listing your home for a price below its value in order to make a quick sale and get their commission. Some will rather take a reduced amount of commission today than spend 3 months trying to sell your home for a marginal increase in commission.

Whilst this might not be a lot to them, it will mean you could get thousands of pounds less for your house than you would with a more honest estate agent.

Estate agents have been known to commit deceptive tactics or even scams) to avoid fulfilling their full responsibility.

If you feel you have been taken advantage of by an estate agent or they have dealt with your case in an unfair manner you can report it to the property ombudsman.

You can also report to the National association of estate agents.

Estate agents can be difficult to manage as they tend to get so busy due to taking on too many cases or being understaffed. It is ofcourse hard to tell if either of this is the case before you pick an estate agent. It is therefore necessary to outline how you will work with the estate agent before picking them and ensuring they are in agreement with you on this.

If you are buying:

Keep in contact with your estate agent on a weekly basis so they inform you when a good property within your price range is available on the market.

You should inform your estate agent on your exact requirements prior.

You should search zoopla and rightmove weekly to see what properties your estate agent has added to the different portals and inquire with them if you see something you like.

Keep a good audit trail of conversations so you know who you spoke to and if any agreements were put in place.

Your estate agent has a duty to be truthful so you should ensure you ask them as many questions and even better you should do it over email so there is an audit trail of what was said.

Tip: Having a mortgage in principle before you start shopping for homes will ensure your estate agent or prospective buyers takes you seriously. You are not obliged to use one estate agent. You can use as many as you wish.

When you find a property you like you should ask:

  • How long it has been on the market?
  • How many times the price has changed and in what direction?
  • If there are any works or repairs expected to be carried out on the property?
  • What is included in the property sale? e.g curtains, furniture etc

If you are selling:

You should ensure you have a mutual agreement with your estate agent. The government has some guidance on this.

Ensure you get weekly updates from your estate agent and that all decisions are made with your consent.

Before you choose an estate agent ensure you do a Google search and ask locally if possible to get any possible feedback or reviews about them. You should also ask them how they intend to market your property and for how long.

How to make an offer on a property✔✔

You can make an offer on a property at any time and you are not bound by the offer until you have exchanged contracts with the seller.

When making an offer you should consider:

  • If you want the offer to be subject to you getting a full mortgage
  • If the offer should be subject to you carrying out survey checks on the property and how this may affect your offer
  • If your offer should be subject to you exchanging contracts
  • If you will be putting down a deposit and on what terms this can be refunded

Once you have out in your offer you will receive a letter from the seller or estate agent confirming your offer.

You should ask them to take the property off the listing websites to avoid you being gazumped .This is when someone come in and puts in a higher offer and yours gets rejected as a result.

Sealed bid home offers👀

You can make a sealed bid offer. This is not a common thing in England but it is in Scotland.

A sealed bid offer is when the bid is secret. These bids are not legally binding. Sealed bids are a good way for sellers to attract higher offers on properties where there is a lot of competition. They may be used in England for this specific scenario.

The seller or Estate agent will provide you with a guide price and a close date for the sealed bid. Your bid will have to be received before this date and then you will be notified if you have won the bidding.

Sell your property yourself🤑

You don’t need to use an estate agent. You can simply list your property yourself. Make sure you know what costs each listing agent is charging before you decide to go along with this process.

This means you will have to:

  • Stick the for sale sign outside your home
  • Take the pictures yourself
  • Measure your home yourself
  • Get the energy performance certificates yourself
  • List and pay for your online property listings
  • Answer phone calls and emails to liaise with prospective buyers

Sell or buy a home via an auction💯🙌

You can also sell or buy a home via an auction.

This is good for properties which need some repair work

You will probably pay a 10% deposit with the remainder payable within 28 days so you’ll need to have money ready.

Remember there will be costs to consider such as entry fee for the catalogue and auction, commission, solicitors fees and survey costs.

You can find out more on the NAVA website.

If you need financial advice and you live in the UK then you could contact the Money Advice service over the phone or via chat for impartial advice.You can also contact the debt charity “Step Change” if you are in debt and need help.