How many estate agents should I use?
When you sell your home, you have to decide how many estate agents you want to use. In particular, should you get one or more to work for you? What you decide will affect how much you pay in fees – and how much you get for your home!
You can have one, two or more agents working for you. They can be:
- sole agent
- multiple agents
Generally, the more agents you get working for you, the more potential buyers you will reach, and potentially the higher the offers you will get – but you will pay higher fees. The best approach depends on what type of property you have, and the state of the market:
- if there is a glut of properties on the market, with few buyers, it can make more sense to have multiple agents
- if there are few properties on the market, but lots of eager buyers, then a sole agent is probably best
Appointing a “sole agent” means that just one agent will be acting for you, and they get all the commission, even if you find a buyer for your property.
Having a sole agent can save you money, since sole agents will generally agree to act for a lower commission because it is more certain they will get it than under a multiple agency agreement.
It is likely to take longer to sell your house if you have a sole agent than having multiple agents competing with each other, the list of registered buyers may be more limited. You shouldn’t go for a sole agent if you are in a desperate hurry.
You may reach a more limited number of buyers with a sole agent, which matters if it is a weak market, and you are not confident about selling your property.
If you have a hot property, or the market is particularly hot with lots of buyers and few properties for sale, it may make more sense to use a sole agent. Eager buyers will find your house whoever you put it on with and you can save some money since the commission usually is lower.
You should only appoint a sole agent for a specific length of time – such as six to eight weeks – so you don’t get trapped into the agreement. If you don’t sell your home, you want to be free to go elsewhere reasonably quickly.
Appointing a sole agent means you cannot go to another agent. If you do sell through another agent, you will be in breach of contract, and liable to two sets of fees, since you will still have to pay the sole agent. Even if you sell your property by yourself.
Multiple agency agreements
Appointing “multiple agents” is the big-bang, quick-sell option. Going for a multi-agency will mean you cover different markets.
Under a multiple agency agreement, you have more than one agents, all acting for you at the same time. Basically, you are putting the house on the market with everyone.
Only the agency who actually makes the sale gets the commission, and the others get nothing – so they are all competing with each other.
Multiple agency agreements attract the highest fees.
You have to give out sets of keys to a number of different agents, and the viewing process is likely to be more intrusive.
Estate agents often claim that selling a property on a multiple agency basis smells of desperation, and can put potential buyers off.
In a hot market with lots of buyers looking for property, there is much less benefit in going for a multiple agency agreement, since you can save money with a sole agency agreement.
Can I change estate agents?
This will depend on your terms and conditions; you may not be able to change at all during the period of your agreement, or you may be liable to pay some fees. It is important that your agreement with the sole agent is only for a limited period – the normal period is a 12 months contract, with each side being able to give three weeks’ notice (but you may have to pay a penalty). But you should aim for a lower period such as six months, so you can change reasonably quickly if you are not happy with them.