The start of a new year often prompts us to make changes in our lives and few are more significant than taking the decision to move house. You may still be thinking about whether to put your home on the market, or you may have been trying to sell for a while and are considering switching estate agents in the hope of rejuvinating market interest. There are a few things to consider if you are planning on changing estate agent but rest assured that the process is not as complicated as you may think. Have a read through our Guide to Switching Estate Agents to help you make the right decision for you.
Why do you want to switch estate agents?
Selling your home can be a stressful and emotionally charged time. To help you make the right decision about whether to change estate agents, ask yourself exactly why you want to switch. Write a list of your agent’s pros and cons:
- Does your agency regularly keep in touch and update you on progress?
- Has interest in your property declined over time? Are you getting viewings?
- Is your agent recommending a price drop?
Also detail the elements that are most important to you during your house sale – is selling by a certain date key for you, or is it more important to achieve the best possible price, or perhaps the whole process seems rather daunting and having the support of an experienced and proactive agent is what you really need? Rank your “wish list” in order of priority – this will really help you when you come to choosing your new agent.
Check your contract
Before you do anything else make sure you are clear about what your contractual obligations to your current estate agent actually are. Most contracts allow for an exclusivity period meaning that you are obligated to keep your house on the market with your current provider for a minimum period. This is usually one to three months but can vary so make sure you check the details in your agreement. Most agents do allow clients to give a notice period if they would like to pull out of the agreement but there may be an exit fee to consider. It all comes down to reading the small print and making sure you understand the obligations you signed up to.
There are three main types of estate agency agreements:
Sole agency agreement –This means that the estate agent is the only agent with the right to sell your home during the term of the contract and is the most commonly seen contract.
Sole selling agreement – this type of contract is less commonly seen. In short it means that irrespective of whether they (or another agent) sell your home, they can still claim their commission fee.
Multi agency agreement – when you have instructed more than one agent to sell your property. The agent who introduces the buyer with whom you go on to agree the sale is paid the whole 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. It is unlikely that you would receive a full or partial refund of this fee if you switch estate agents.
It is important to note that if you are in a sole agency contract you must not commission another agent to start selling or marketing your property until the notice period with your old agent is complete. Make sure your new agent is fully aware of the circumstances so that existing contracts are not breached.
With any queries about your contractual rights and obligations, your first port of call is to read through your contract thoroughly. If you are unclear, we would advise that you speak with your solicitor so you know exactly what you can and can’t do within the scope of the contract.
Choosing your new estate agent
Having decided that you do want to change agents this is now the time to research potential new agents. Do your due diligence - look at their websites and social media accounts, check out their reviews on Google and Facebook, maybe act as a mystery shopper and enquire about a house on their books – seeing how they approach you as a potential buyer can be a very useful insight. It is also a good idea to see which industry associations they are members of. Membership of associations such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) means that the agency should adhere to a code of professional conduct, giving you valuable peace of mind that the agency in question is reputable
When you are ready to speak to them about selling your home have a list of questions prepared so that you find out all the information you need. Good questions to ask include:
- Why do you think my house has not sold yet?
- What would you do differently?
- How would you market my property?
- What other properties like mine have you sold?
- Do you offer accompanied viewings (we assume that all agents are fully conversant with covid-secure protocols)
- Do you have prospective buyers on your database and do you proactively match properties to potential buyers?
In short, find out all you can about their sales process and get a feel for how proactive and responsive you think they will be. Make sure you find out what they do once an offer has been agreed – how do they move the sale forward to ensure that it progresses successfully to completion and exchange. You also want to choose an agent who asks you questions too, one who takes the time to understand what your requirements are and can demonstrate a flexible approach tailored to match these.
It would be unrealistic to advise you not to consider the fee when making your decision, but we would certainly recommend that you do not to allow a low fee to be your primary decision-making factor. You want to be sure that the agent entrusted with selling your home is the most skilled to do so and, let’s face it, it is often the case that you get what you pay for.
Choosing your replacement agent should be a decision based on what they can offer to you that your previous agent couldn’t. Local expertise, excellent customer service, proactive marketing and a strong track record should be the key factors in your decision-making process. A final word of caution – be aware of agents who may overvalue your property in order to win your business – market appraisals should always be based on local knowledge and market conditions so make sure you ask for the rationale behind each valuation you receive.
We hope our Top Tips for Switching Estate Agents has helped you. If you do decide to make the change, Tim would be delighted to hear from you on 01244 322322 and he will be more than happy to offer his advice about how to make the switch a smooth and pain-free transition.
About the author
Danielle comes from a marketing and media background, with over 20 years experience in her field which includes tenures at a number of distinguished Cheshire-based magazines and marketing agencies. Danielle has responsibility for marketing at Rickit…
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