A Guide To Estate Agents When Buying And Selling

Written by Jane Wardle on November 27, 2018

Updated December 17, 2020


Buying and selling property is not something that most people do on a regular basis, many people will only buy or sell a property a handful of times in their life. Estate agents are there to make the process easier and handle a lot of the complicated parts of the transaction on your behalf.

Choosing an estate agency and knowing exactly what they are responsible for in a house sale or purchase can be confusing. Whether you are selling your home through an estate agent or buying a new property, it is vital to properly understand how estate agents work, what they charge and what you should be aware of during the process.

What Does An Estate Agent Do?

What does an estate agent do?

Estate agents are experts in the property field, and a local estate agent will be an expert in their own local area. They will help you sell a property and work out its market value or buy a property at a reasonable price.

Their job is to deal with all the paperwork involved in a house sale or purchase; buying and selling a house involves a huge amount of legal paperwork, and an estate agent will have the knowledge and experience to get this sorted quickly and effectively on your behalf. An estate agent can also liaise directly with your solicitors to discuss the progress of the sale and agree on the next steps.

If you are selling your home, then your estate agent will be responsible for marketing your home to prospective buyers. They will usually arrange professional photography, create a floor plan and write detailed and accurate descriptions of your property.

Usually, the cost of this marketing is included in the estate agent fees, so you shouldn’t have to pay anything extra for this. They will also arrange viewings for your home and show any potential buyers around the property, as well as manage negotiations between the seller and buyer.

The seller of a property always pays estate agent fees and it is the seller that chooses which estate agents to use to sell their home. If you are a buyer, then your relationship with the estate agent is still just as important, but if you are viewing multiple houses, you will often have to deal with multiple estate agents.

How Much Does An Estate Agent Cost?

If you are buying a property, you don’t have to pay any fees to the estate agent as the seller will cover all their fees. If you are selling a property, then it is your responsibility to choose an estate agent for the sale and negotiate the fees that you will pay.

The majority of high street estate agents will calculate their fees as a percentage of the price paid by the buyer. This is known as their commission and can vary between 1% and 3.5% of the selling price of a home. It can be tempting just to choose the estate agent that has the lowest fees, but it is important to look at their figures and track record of house sales.

If you select an estate agent with a higher fee but can achieve a better sale, then you will ultimately be better off.

As a seller, you will have to have a lot of contact with your estate agent over the weeks and months it takes for the sale to go through. Make sure to choose an agent that you are happy to do business with on a personal level.

What Is An Online Estate Agent?

Traditional local estate agents are still very popular, and you will find plenty of their offices in any town or city in the UK, but online estate agents are a new, digital alternative to these. An online estate agent will often charge a low fixed fee to advertise your property on various property websites and then manage enquiries from potential buyers and eventually secure an offer with a buyer.

According to Ask Susan there are a large number of online estate agents available today, and they have become increasingly popular in recent years. Some online estate agents require the seller to do a lot of the work, such as take their own photographs and arranging show rounds with buyers. Others operate on more of a hybrid system where they have a local property expert who can visit the home and take photographs and meet with buyers in person.

Generally, an online estate agent will charge much less than a traditional estate agent to sell a home, but the service you receive is often more limited. Traditional estate agents will usually handle all aspects of the sale, whereas some online estate agents will often just list the property online and manage enquiries.

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