If you are considering switching estate agents, take a look at our latest guide – Switching estate agents: all you need to know to get it right.
When you chose your estate agent, you did so because you believed they could sell your home.
You felt so certain, you even put your name to it when you signed the contract.
However, months down the line, hopes of lots of viewers and competing offers from eager buyers, are starting to fade.
You find yourself wondering if the market has changed, or if your asking price was just too optimistic. Your estate agent seems to have lost confidence in their ability to sell your house for the price they recommended. “Would a new agent do a better job?” you ask yourself.
If you find yourself in one of the following situations, it’s a natural next step to consider changing agents:
- Your house isn’t getting viewings
- Your agent is pressuring you to drop the price
- Your agent is not communicating with you
Maybe you feel that your agent has actually done a pretty good job, but you’re ready for a change and a new approach. Or perhaps they haven’t delivered on their early promises, and you feel disappointed and disheartened. The road to choosing the right estate agent can be a bumpy one, and the idea of doing it all over again can leave you feeling daunted. But don’t worry, you don’t have to make this journey alone. We are here to give you the navigational tools you need to steer your course forward when switching agents, so you don’t take a wrong turn, and end up back where you started.
Step 1 – Use your head and not your heart
Before making a move, look at the facts. How many viewings have you had, over what period of time? Ask your agent how this figure compares with other similar properties on their books. Take a look at the property portals; are homes like yours going under offer, whilst yours remains unsold? Or have other properties remained on the market too?
Ask your agent to share with you your online portal statistics. Do the figures show a steady level of interest throughout the time you’ve been on the market, or a declining number of views? Your agent should be able to interpret these statistics for you, explaining their significance, and how they relate to your property sale.
Once you understand the current state of play, it’s time to check your Agreement.
Step 2- Study the small print
There are three main types of estate agent agreements. Make sure you know what you’ve signed, so you don’t get yourself in legal hot water by making a change:
Sole agency agreement – this is the most common type of estate agent contract. This means that the estate agent is the only agent with the right to sell your home during the term of the contract but if you find a buyer yourself, you don’t have to pay the estate agent fees.
Sole selling agreement – this is more unusual and essentially means that no matter how you sell your home, or who to, they can still claim their commission fee.
Fixed fee – with this contract, you have agreed to pay a set amount on the sale of your home, regardless of the amount you sell it for. Often, fixed-fee agents charge some, or all, of the fee upfront. If you have paid anything up front, it’s unlikely you will be able to get this back if you switch estate agents.
Also check your tie-in period. Most notice periods are 8-12 weeks, but some are longer. There may be a notice period, which you’ll need to factor into your plans to appoint a new estate agent.
Step 3 – Research potential agents
Once you know your rights to switch estate agents, it’s time to look for new agents to shortlist.
Check out reviews on Google and Facebook to get an idea of other homeowner’s experiences of the agents you are considering. Ask friends and family too – which agents would they recommend, and why?
Look at their online presence: if they have videos on Facebook or YouTube, how do they come across? Personable and enthusiastic? Or formal and flat? If they don’t resonate with you over video, it’s unlikely they will do in person.
Step 4 – Become an ‘undercover agent’
A ‘mystery shop’ exercise is a really good way to see how they would sell your home, if you listed with them. Here’s how to do it:
Pick a property in your area, one similar to your own. Call the prospective agent and ask them to send you details on the house you’ve picked, then only give them information based on what they ask you. (Some people find this a really challenging exercise to do – if this is you, ask a friend or family member and listen in!)
- Did they ask for your name and phone number?
- Did they give you their name?
- Did they ask about your buying position?
- Did they offer to register your buying requirements?
- How much did they ask you about your property search?
- How friendly were they? How interested and engaged in your query were they?
- Did they talk in glowing terms about the property you asked about?
- Did they discuss booking a viewing?
- Did they take your email or address?
- Did the details you requested from them arrive speedily?
If the agent scores above eight, they are clearly competent and attentive and worthy of further consideration. Any lower, and they are failing to understand your needs, as a prospective buyer, which does not bode well. If you don’t feel they did a good job of selling the house you asked about, it’s unlikely they’ll do a good job of selling yours.
Step 5 – Invite them to your home
If you have reached stage five, there is a good chance that you’re feeling confident this agent can help you sell your home, and move on with your life.
In this meeting, you need to understand:
- Their valuation – Do they support your current asking price? Or would they recommend a price drop?
- Precedent – which other properties have they sold in your area, that are comparable to yours? How long did they take to sell, and what price did they ultimately achieve?
- Fee – very often, the better, more confident agents will charge a higher fee. Especially if their marketing is of a higher quality. If you do decide to negotiate, see how easily the agent reduces their fee. How they negotiate with you is how they will negotiate with your buyer, after all.
Finally…congratulations. If the agent passes all these stages with flying colours, you’ve found a new selling mate. Hopefully, it’s the start of a positive and fruitful relationship, that will see you selling and moving on with your life, and plans.