If you want to put your house on the market or are looking to buy or rent property, you’ll be seeking the services of an estate or letting agent. With so many to choose from, how can we make the right choice for our needs? Here are some helpful hints on how to find a reputable estate agent:

Start by asking family and friends for recommendations. A large number of business is a result of word-of-mouth recommendations from family, friends or colleagues who have recently been through the process. They can tell you who they were impressed with or who to avoid at all costs! Have to walk or drive around your neighbourhood and look at the ‘for sale’ signs in the area. This will give you a good idea of who the successful agents are in the area.

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Check for membership of a professional body that tells you that they are bound by a strict code of conduct. This gives a good indication that the company is professional, knowledgeable and has a high standard of customer service. The professional organizations include:

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Guild of Professional Estate Agents

National Association of Estate Agents

Agents now must be signed up to membership of the Surveyors Ombudsman Scheme or the Property Ombudsman and you should be able to find all this information on the agency’s website.

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Once you have narrowed down your list, the next best step is to personally visit the office of the agent. You put a lot of trust in the company so it’s important to know who you will talk to and get a feel for the business. Is it a professional office? Do you feel welcome? If you had a bad experience at this point, then it is best to keep looking.

Contact at least three different agents to come and value your property if you sell via this medium. Do not always fall for the highest valuation, it could be done to win your business, but then struggle to sell at that price. An honest, fair appraisal is what you are looking for which is why it is important to get at least three valuations.

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You must decide whether to choose a multi-agency approach or sole agent to handle your property. The more agents you use, the wider your audience, but also the higher the cost so it really depends on your individual circumstances and what kind of property you own. The market will also influence your decision. A general rule of thumb is if there are more houses than buyers then choose a few agents but if there are more buyers than property, you only need to use one.

Make sure you always read the small print and check the terms and conditions of the agreement before you sign the agent. Make sure you feel comfortable with everything and ask questions about anything you do not understand.