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Top 10 questions to ask your estate agent [2023]

This Strike guide will talk you through the important questions to ask your estate agent at different stages of the selling process.

A row of colourful houses

Here at Strike, we want to help you feel empowered and confident going into the selling process — and that starts with finding an estate agent you’re happy with. Getting valuations can be a little overwhelming, so we came up with some questions to have in your back pocket, so you can feel like you’re in the driving seat from start to finish. Why should you have these questions ready?

a) So you can pick who is the best fit to sell your house.

Asking questions gives you a chance to suss your agent out, and hopefully avoid any clashes down the line. Do they seem well researched on your specific property and the surrounding area? Do you feel they could meet your individual needs? Are their beliefs about your property consistent and in-line with your research and online valuation? 

b) To pick their brains.

Estate agents have genuinely useful information that you might not find anywhere else (hate to brag!). Plus, if they’re valuing your property then their answers will be more tailored to you specifically than anything you’ll find on your Google rabbit holes.

It’s good to have some questions lined up and ready to go when you meet them, so you can leave armed with all the information you need. 

1) What are your estate agent fees and how do you charge?

One aspect of selling your home that will be at the forefront of your mind is: how much will my estate agent charge? By all means ask your estate agent, and don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions. If the price doesn’t feel right to you, it’s totally fine to shop around a bit more until you find something that matches your budget. Looking around will also give you an idea of what a reasonable price is.

At Strike, a reasonable price is, well, nothing! Zero. We don’t take commission when selling your home, so we can sell your property totally free of charge. We do charge for useful add-ons like removal services and legal services, but you’re not obliged to use them. We save you a lot of money by charging this way. In fact if your house is £290k, we estimate that you’ll be saving £4,350 by using Strike as your estate agent.

Other agents charge a myriad of prices, for a myriad of services — and they’re not always upfront about extra charges. It’s worth thinking about what you need from them, and then getting them to calculate the total cost. On average we estimate that estate agents tend to charge between 0.75% and 2.5% of your house price (plus VAT, of course). 

You’ll also want to know if they charge for extras, on top of their percentage fee. Does the fee include:

  • Professional photos?

  • Videos of the property?

  • The “For Sale” Board?

  • Floorplans?

  • House viewings?

Not only that, some agents will force you to use their other services — like conveyancing — in order to get a certain price. (That’s really not our thing.) Get into the nitty gritty and work out exactly what you’ll be paying and when.

And how do you charge?

That takes us to how they charge. There are a couple of popular options here among estate agents.

a) They charge a percentage fee of the final house price. 

Traditional and high street agents tend to charge a percentage fee of the final house price. This means you will almost never have to pay them if the house doesn’t sell (but don’t be afraid to check the small print on that). This is a “no sell, no fee” contract. This is normally paid at the end of the sale, because you have to wait for the final price to be decided on. 

b) They charge a flat fee

Online and hybrid agents usually charge a flat fee. This will usually be paid at the start of the process, or via a finance agreement (which means it's paid in prearranged instalments). Some people prefer this payment method, because it is transparent and fixed.

2) What type of contract will we have?

How and what you pay is also determined by what type of contract you’re in with your agent, so have a look and decide what might work for you and your agent:

a) Sole Selling Rights - your agent is the only one who can sell your property.

b) Sole Agency - your estate agent is the only one working on the contract, but you can sell the property yourself privately, if the opportunity arises.

c) Joint Agency - more than one agent (usually 2) have the contract to the house, and they tend to split the commission, with the agent who successfully sells the house having a larger cut of the commission. This option is more expensive than a sole agent. 

d) Multi Agency - as many agents as you like can try to sell the property, with the “winning” agent receiving the fee. Though this might get more eyes on your property, you should remember that the agent's main ambition is to get the house sold. Because of this, they might not have done such rigorous due diligence on the buyers, so you’ll want to do proper checks on the prospective buyers to check everything is as it should be.

3) Is the property ready to sell?

Though you will have a sense of the state of your property, and you’ll know what does and doesn’t work, your estate agent will be able to give you their professional opinion on whether it’s ready to go to market. They may suggest redoing entire bathrooms and kitchens, or simply remind you to replace those broken light bulbs. Doing work on the house should increase the number of viewings and (hopefully) offers.

4) What could add value to the property?

Redecorating the house according to your agent’s advice should add value to the property. It may be as simple as adding some soft furnishings, or replacing those Abba bedsheets with some more neutral ones.

Beyond redecorating, your estate agent should advise you on other value-increasing factors. If your property is a leasehold rather than a freehold property, your agent will suggest you check how long is left on the lease. If it’s less than 90 years, you’ll want to seriously consider asking the owner of the freehold to extend the lease. If there’s less than 80 years it will cost you more to get it extended. It is definitely worth doing before taking the property to market though, because it will add to the value of the house.

5) What should the asking price be?

You should start your home valuation journey by doing your own research — look at what local houses have sold for, and use an online valuation tool for a guide. This way you can have some expectations and goals when you receive your estate agent’s valuation. After you’ve done your online valuation, your estate agent will give you a more specific number. The value of your house will depend on its location, its size and the state of the house, as well as any design features of the property. It is also determined by the condition of the housing market, both nationally and locally.

Remember you can get several valuations from different agents before committing to one, if it makes you feel more comfortable to have several opinions. It’s a big decision, so don’t be afraid to take your time with it.

6) How did you get to that valuation?

So you might be wondering where they pulled the valuation number from, especially if it’s quite different to what you expected. There are lots of factors that make up the final number:

One thing to look out for is impressive local knowledge in the estate agent, and you can look through their portfolio of similar houses that they’ve successfully sold. They should be taking into account both the local area (including desirable factors like good schools, doctors, green spaces and transport links) and particular features of your home. As well as you asking the right questions to your agent, your agent should be asking you some questions too. These may include:

  • What are the special features of your home (there may be some subtle features that aren’t obvious to them immediately, such as it being very quiet in the evening, or the street having a neighbourhood watch scheme).

  • How old is your boiler?

  • When did you last replace your boiler?

  • How long is left on the lease of your house?

  • Are there any structural issues with the property, like a leaking roof?

If your agent isn’t asking these questions, it may be a good indication that they’re not as thorough as you might like. It could be time to look for a second opinion.

Your agent also will have selected a style of asking price. Here’s what they mean, and why they may have selected to ask in this way:

  • Asking price: this means the number that you’re asking for on the house. Most people tend to offer at around 5-10% lower than the asking price. However, if it is priced competitively, you may have people bidding each other out. This may organically drive the price up, though it may be an indication that you’ve underpriced the house. If you and your agent think this is the case, you can always take it off the market and put it back on at a higher price. 

  • Offers in excess of (or OIEO): this means all offers must be above a certain price. An agent will usually go for this style of offer if you’re looking for a compromise between you (the seller) and them. OIEO will bring a wide range of offers, meaning you won’t be too constrained by an asking price, but there’s still a bottom threshold, meaning nobody will be able to undercut the asking price.

  • POA: this means “price on application”, meaning you have to reach out to the agent to ask for the price, rather than it being listed publicly (like on Zoopla, or RightMove for example). This is usually on more expensive or unique properties. Agents believe this adds a bit of exclusivity to the house, but it’s up to you if you feel this is a good approach to take. 

  • Guide price: this is an approximation of the value of the house. An agent may opt for this option if they aren’t set on a price, or if you and the agent can’t come to an agreement. The guide price style usually encourages more offers at a wide range of price points. 

At the end of the day, you can make the final decision on how much to ask for. If you’re in a rush to move, then you’ll want to set the asking price slightly lower. If you’re in no rush, then you can afford to be more optimistic about the asking price. You can always lower it if you don’t get any bites.

7) What other houses do you have on the market in this bracket?

Your estate agent doesn’t need to have sold your next door neighbours’ house to be able to sell yours, but having good local knowledge is invaluable. They will have access to all the properties on the market recently listed, sold and withdrawn from the market, to help them value your home. They’ll know where your property sits in the landscape of local houses, and they’ll be able to advise who your prospective buyers might be.

8) How quickly can you sell?

You can ask your agent (or potential agent) how quickly they’ll be able to shift your property. This will also depend on how much of a rush you’re in — if you want to sell fast, they’ll advise putting the price on the lower end of the scale to make things move along quicker. You can ask them if they’ve sold similar properties in the area, and how quickly they were able to sell it, at what price. 

You could also explore other houses in different areas at around the same price bracket, and see if they’ve sold and, if so, how much they sold for.

9) Can you recommend someone to do my “extras”?

When we say extras we mean the “add ons”; conveyancing, removal firms, financial advisors etc. Though this isn’t a deal breaker, it could be useful if your estate agent has firms that they work with a lot and trust. You’ll want to ask them if they charge commission on these services, because they should be up-front about that. 

At Strike, our “add-ons” are the only way we’ll ask you for money. Our trusted moving, financial and conveyancing specialists will help to make the process as quick and simple as possible. But they’re optional — and we’ll always sell your home for free.

10) Where will you list my property?

Ask your agent where they plan to list it, and how they plan to market the property too. A good thing to look for is an agent who has a broad approach to listing and marketing; this will maximise the eyes on your property and increase your chances of selling to an appropriate buyer in a shorter amount of time.

We hope this guide will not only give you the confidence to find the right agent for your needs, but also to know that you’re getting the most out of your estate agent. It’s not a one-size-fits all situation, so get to know the person that you’re trusting to help you sell your place.