Choosing an Estate Agent

What Do They Do?

In Northern Ireland the estate agent acts for the seller of property and provides information to prospective purchasers. The seller pays his agent. The estate agent will:-

  • value a property for sale purposes
  • discuss and agree an asking price with the seller
  • provide information for buyers
  • arrange appointments for viewing
  • negotiate the price
  • arrange mortgages for purchasers
  • check out purchasers
  • have they really sold their own property?
  • are they really capable of raising the money?

The job of an estate agent is to put the right price on your property and then find the right buyer. If an agent puts too low an asking price, it may sell quicker, but you could lose quite a bit of money. If too high a price is asked for your property may not sell at all or may not sell in time for you to buy the home you want.

How Do I Pick One?

  • before settling on one agency ask several to value your home
  • if you don't feel confident or comfortable with an agent in the first ten minutes don't pick him (buyers won't Trust him either)
  • ask whether advertising, internet marketing, photographs or board erection expenses are included in their percentage charge or charged as an extra
  • discuss fees with agents; the "going rate" in Northern Ireland is 1.5% of the sale price although this can sometimes be reduced by negotiation
  • remember VAT at 17.5% is added on to both fees and extras
  • ask friends, neighbours and relatives about agents in your locality
  • no agent needs to have any qualifications but RICS, ISVA & NAEA all have codes of conduct and some agents are governed by the ombudsman scheme
  • estate agents are governed by legislation which makes it a criminal offence for an agent to misrepresent information
  • in Northern Ireland almost all properties are sold on a sole agency basis which means the agent will earn the fee commission if the property is sold by any means (even without the agent involvement) whilst on the agent's books
  • a joint agency is where two agents work together and agree to share the fee; this tends to occur where it has taken some time to sell a property and another agent is brought in

Legal content supplied by Wilson Nesbitt Solicitors.