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How do I go about choosing an agent to sell my home?

Ah, if only I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked this question!

Choosing who to entrust with selling what is almost certainly our single most valuable asset ought to be one of the most considered decisions any of us ever take.

Yet bizarrely, many people choose their estate agent with a good deal less serious thought than if they were deciding where to buy their groceries. Indeed, two of the commonest reasons for choosing one agent over another are that 1) they valued your home the highest, or 2) they were the cheapest. Hardly scientific, is it? No wonder so many people don’t have a good word to say about estate agents!

There is no one ‘correct’ way to choose an agent. There are those who insist that your best bet is to choose a small, local independent firm. And there is some merit in this argument. After all, everything else being equal, you might reasonably expect a small local firm to really know the area in question, and perhaps also be able to offer a more personal service than their larger competitors. But that is not always the case. The plain fact is that there are both good and bad local independent agents – and by the same token, there are good and bad among the larger, so-called ‘corporate’ agents too.

Similarly, it is often argued that you should always choose an agent who belongs to one of the recognised professional bodies, such as the National Association of Estate Agents, which operates a strict code of conduct and generally exists to champion the highest professional standards. However, human nature being what it is, having the letters ‘MNAEA’ or ‘FNAEA’ after an agent’s name is no absolute guarantee of quality – any more than the absence of those letters automatically means that an agent is no good at his job.

Personal recommendation is often cited as the best way to choose an agent. Nevertheless…the fact is, we’re all different, and what works well for one person may not work so well for another.

Of course, in an ideal world I would say that choosing an estate agent should involve all of the above. Ultimately, however, it really all comes down to trust and rapport – if you have a good feeling about an agent – then go with it!