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
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
The HomeOwners Alliance provides members with guidance on their agreements with estate agents. To see how we can help, find out more about becoming a member of the HomeOwners Alliance
- 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 then split the commission between them
- 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
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?”
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“
If you would like further advice, become a member of the HomeOwners Alliance and take advantage of our Home Helpline, Ask an Expert Service, Legal Advice Line and discounted conveyancing
- Estate agent contracts what to watch for
- How should I choose an estate agent?
- How much should I pay the estate agent?
- Should I use an online estate agent?
- A comparison of online estate agents: which one should I use?
- What price should I sell my house for?
- Step-by-step guide to selling your home
- Top Tips: How to make your home sell faster and more valuable
- The legal side of selling a home made simple
- Why you should avoid estate agents’ in-house services