questions to ask when choosing a real estate agent

When it comes to buying or selling a property, a knowledgeable estate agent can make the process as smooth as possible. 

Questions to ask an estate agent when buying a property

There are dozens of questions that can be asked to gain an insight into the property and seller’s situation when looking to buy a property. Here are the most important questions to ask when choosing an estate agent to buy a property with. 

1. Why is the property on the market?

This one seems obvious, but many people skip over it completely when looking to buy a property. If you don’t ask, you won’t get – so make it a habit to ask a prospective estate agent why the property is on the market at each new home you visit.  

While the estate agent isn’t going to spill all the details about the sellers’ personal lives and circumstances, they could give you some insight into the reasons why they want to sell. If you discover that the seller is keen to sell ASAP, you may have a better chance negotiating the price point down. 

2. What is the lowest price the seller will accept?

Now that you know why the seller wants to move on and you can start negotiating, it’s important to know exactly how low of a price they will accept for their property. There’s no point trying to negotiate if you’re completely out of the price range.

3. What is the local area like?

Often forgotten about, it’s important to get to grips with the local area before committing to moving there. After all, it’ll become your home and where you spend a significant portion of your time. This is especially important if you are looking for a property in an area different to where you currently live. 

Buyers with children or those who are hoping to start a family in the near future could find out important information about the local schools and the quality of facilities in the area. Education options are often one of the most important factors for parents when deciding on an area to live in, so make the most of the knowledge your estate agent can offer!

It’s not just schools and local amenities you can find out about in the locality – take the time to ask about your potential neighbours and how the previous owners got along with them. While you should have heard about any disputes between the seller and neighbours in the TA6 form, you could get more of an idea about how friendly your potential neighbours are from the estate agent.  

For many people, local transport links are an essential consideration when choosing a home to buy. This is especially important for people moving to a city or busy town. Local estate agents know their area inside out, and many will travel to work each day using the very same transport links you need to know about – what better person to ask? 

4. Have the sellers secured another property?

By asking your prospective estate agent whether or not the seller has secured another property, you can discover how long the process of buying the property in question could take. If the seller has not secured another property, you will likely have to wait until they do before you can buy the property from them – entering into a property chain

Property chains require a series of connected property sales to occur before the chain completes. This can leave buyers waiting for several months before all the necessary steps have been taken and the sale can be completed. You might not be in a hurry to move into a new property, but it’s best to check!

5. Is the property freehold or leasehold?

Make sure you clarify whether the property is freehold or leasehold. Both are ways of owning a property in the UK, but which you choose determines whether you own the land in which the property is built on too. 

We’ve dedicated a whole blog to freehold vs leasehold properties and the benefits of each, including what a share of freehold is.  

6. What are the average utility bills?

Now more than ever, it’s important to ask your prospective estate agent how much the utility bills typically cost at the property you are viewing. With the ongoing cost of living crisis, knowing what you can expect to pay in a given area for your gas, water and electricity can make all the difference when budgeting. 



Questions to ask when choosing an estate agent to sell your home

When selling your property with an estate agent, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into – and what you can expect in return.

1. What fees do they charge?

Estate agent fees are usually charged as a percentage of the total sale price (including VAT) that they secure for your property. This is typically between 0.9% and 3%. 

Some estate agents choose to offer sliding fees, where the percentage charged varies depending on the sale price. It might be worth chatting with them in this way? As an example: 

  • 1% fee if they sell your home for less than £500,000
  • 1.25% if they sell it between £500,000 and £524,999
  • 1.5% if they sell it between £525,000 and £550,000
  • 1.75% if they sell it for over £550,000

This way the agent has added incentives to achieve the best price possible and it’s mutually beneficial to both parties.

2. What is included in the fee?

Alongside knowing exactly how much you will be charged, it’s essential to know what you can expect from the estate agent in return for the fee you will pay. 

Not only should your estate agent take care of listing and marketing your property, but they should also include high-quality photography, detailed floorplans, valuations and among other things, organisation of viewings in their fees.  

At Stanfords we provide a ‘no sale – no fee’ policy, but you should always check with the small print with the agent’s valuing your home before signing an agency contract.

3. How will they market your property? 

Gone are the days of a sign outside of a property being the only way to market a home – although we are still fans of the humble ‘for sale’ board. 

Make sure you find out the various ways in which a prospective estate agent plans to market your property – from local branch displays and mailing lists to listings on both company websites and national sites. 

If you’re based in the Lewisham area, why not buy or sell a property with Stanfords! Make the most of our experienced estate agents and unrivalled property marketing, working with you to get the best deal for your property.