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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, two 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

How many estate agents should I use

The basics

You can have one, two or more agents working for you. They can be:

  • sole agent
  • joint sole agents
  • 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

Sole agents

  • Appointing a “sole agent” means that just one agent will be acting for you, and they get all the commission
  • Having a sole agent can save you money, since sole agents will generally agree to act for a lower commission (typically 1% to 1.5% + VAT) because it is more certain they will get it than under a multiple agency agreement
  • Some agents advertise in similar online locations (Rightmove, Zoopla etc), so it can mean that you get similar advertising exposure with a sole agent, although the list of registered buyers may be more limited than if you use multiple agents. It is important to check where your agent will advertise your property.
  • It is likely to take longer to sell your house if you have a sole agent than having multiple agents competing with each other. 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
  • 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 See our advice on estate agent contracts
  • 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
  • During the term of a sole agency agreement, the agent might accept you renegotiating it into a joint sole agreement

Joint sole agreements

  • Under a joint sole agreement, you appoint two agents, who will agree in advance who will get the commission, which may be shared
  • This usually only makes sense if you want to appoint a specialist agent who acts nationally, as well as a generalist local agent – for example, you might want a national agent who specialises in expensive properties, as well as a local agent for your area
  • Joint sole agreements usually involve higher fees – more typically 2% + VAT
  • Going for a joint sole agency will mean you cover different markets
  • There is less sense in doing a joint sole agreement for two local agents, since they will cover the same market, but won’t be competing with each other to seal the deal
  • There is a risk the two agents might try and free-ride on the efforts of the other one
  • Like a sole agency agreement, the joint sole agreement should only last for a limited period so you are not trapped into it
  • If you sell the house through a third agent, you are then in breach of contract, and will still have to pay the joint sole agency fees

Multiple agency agreements

  • Appointing “multiple agents” is the big-bang, quick-sell option
  • Under a multiple agency agreement, you have three or more 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. This can make the sales process quite frenetic
  • Multiple agency agreements attract the highest fees – typically 2.5% or 3% +VAT
  • You may have to deal with several pushy agents, who will be particularly keen for you to accept a low offer so they get the commission, rather than risk waiting for a slightly higher offer with all the commission going to someone else
  • 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

Find and Compare Local Estate Agents

This form will take you to www.estateagent4me.co.uk for the results

Online estate agents

  • Another option to consider is using an online estate agent which can help you save money on your estate agent fees.  To find out more about whether this option is right for you, see our advice guide “Should I use an online estate agent?”

Find and compare estate agents based on sales performance with our new estateagent4me tool >

Switching tactics

A good strategy is to hire an estate agent as the sole agent for six to eight weeks, before opening business up to other agents on a multiple agency basis. This will give the agent you choose an incentive to sell as soon as possible

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 agent is only for a limited period – the normal period is a 12 week contract, with each side being able to give two weeks’ notice (but you may have to pay a penalty). But you should aim for a lower period such as six weeks, so you can change reasonably quickly if you are not happy with them.

Before signing any contract, read our helpful guide: Estate agent contracts what to watch for


Leave a comment

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  1. Hi Michael, it depends on what it says in both your agents contracts with you. One of our membership benefits is free review of estate agent contract. If you would like to make use of this service, please consider becoming a member. https://hoa.org.uk/homeowners-alliance-membership/

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — September 13, 2019 @ 3:04 pm

  2. We had our house ‘For Sale’ with the first agent, without success and at the end of the contract with that company, we instructed another agent.
    Two weeks after that, the original agent telephoned to say that a couple who had viewed our house with him wanted to have a second viewing. After a third viewing with the original agent, a satisfactory offer was put to us and we accepted.
    May I please ask at what stage of the proceedings is the second agent is obliged to stop marketing our house?
    Thank you.
    Michael Lee

    Comment by Michael Lee — September 12, 2019 @ 8:17 pm

  3. Sorry to hear you’re having difficulties with your agent’s contract. Do check the contract again to see if it mentions a notice period. If you need some extra help, please do become a member, we see lots of estate agent contracts and have helped many members who are in dispute with their agents. We’d love to help you too. https://hoa.org.uk/homeowners-alliance-membership/?utm_expid=.3HY_-w_LRCyqd-bLoYuqkw.0&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fhoa.org.uk%2F

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — August 5, 2019 @ 11:21 am

  4. After engaging agent Dec 2018 and now 8 months later
    I want to have dual agents. My agent says he needs 28 days notice. My contact only mentions contract 24 weeks.
    My agent found a buyer within 3 weeks of marketing it but
    Is now playing for time and I am now stuck in a bad situation.

    Comment by Mrs Parr — August 2, 2019 @ 10:51 pm

  5. Hi Terry and thanks for your comment. Agreed that this is not clear and that there’s room for improvement in Estate Agent contracts and it’s something we’ve been calling for.

    Comment by Sara Hind — July 4, 2018 @ 3:26 pm

  6. My daughter has signed a “Multi Agent Selling Rights Agreement” that allows only her original agent and them to sell- thinking she was signing a real Multi Agency deal whereby she could instruct another agent without their approval.
    I note in their agreement, which I have only just seen, that she say you may use other agents if she enters a notice to quit period, and, during that period the agent will act on a “Multiple Agency Agreement”- which appears to be a real multi-agency.
    This seems somewhat underhand to me,as they use the term Multi Selling Agent, which sounds like a Multi Agency.

    Comment by Terry Womsley — July 3, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

  7. Dear Kay,

    If you are thinking of changing your agent it would be good for us to have a look at the current contract in place, so that we can guide you on the best ways to exit the contract and avoid paying double commission. Do consider becoming a member and we’d be happy to assist you further!

    many thanks,

    HomeOwners Alliance

    Comment by Sophie Khan — May 26, 2017 @ 10:35 am

  8. I got my house up for sale with a estate agent but I don’t think there doing enough to sale it. I want to try to advertise it myself or with someone else but I have still 7 weeks left on the contract with them. I so want to sale my house what is your advice

    Comment by Kay — May 25, 2017 @ 4:12 pm

  9. Estate agents are legally required by current UK Anti Money Laundering Legislation 2007, to demonstrate that they know the customers of whom they are dealing with.

    Comment by ‘Glen at AP lawyers’. — January 12, 2016 @ 11:23 am

  10. I have received a letter to confirm visit for a valuation on my property from an estate agent. They have said in the letter that I have to have identification on me. Such as utility bill, plus passport or driving licence. I have already had 2 valuations from different agents, they didn’t ask for ID. Is this normal procedure just for a valuation? I am a little wary about this as I am just looking for the best deal and agent to proceed. I cannot understand why they are requesting this info. When I called in their office to book an appointment for a valuation the ID situation was not mentioned to me. Should I cancel the valuation? And use another agent? Regards Pam

    Comment by Pam — July 3, 2015 @ 10:48 pm


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