Choosing the right estate agent is an important aspect of selling your property. When you decide to put your property on the market you should obtain at least three valuations including one from an independent local estate agent.
Try to find out from friends and neighbours if they have used an agent they would recommend. If you were happy with the service you received from the agent you bought the property from then do consider instructing them. If they pushed you into making a higher offer than you really wanted to, that's actually a good thing - don't hold it against them, they will do the same to your buyers.
Generally speaking the valuations should be fairly close, some agents will be slightly cautious and some more bullish but there should not be a massive disparity in the valuations. If there is, don't be afraid to quiz the agent on how they arrived at that figure. They should be able to show you comparable properties that have recently been sold.
Do some research yourself, what prices have been achieved in your local area. How long have properties been on the market for. In a rising market it doesn't matter quite as much if your property has been overvalued as the market will catch up with itself although buyers do tend to wonder what is wrong with the property if it has been on the market for too long.
In a slow market it is really important to get the correct valuation as it can spoil the marketing if a property has been overvalued and it puts off potential buyers, the property sticks until the price is reduced resulting in lower offers.
Look at the agents websites, how many properties do they have on their books, which portals do they advertise on, how many sales agents do they have. If they advertise on a portal with the option of sorting the results for most recent properties, run that filter so that you can compare the instructions the agents you are considering have on their books. Include under offer and sold subject to contract in your search on the portal so that you can gauge whether particular agents seem to take a long time getting properties under offer.
It will not give you a definitive answer and you should try to bear in mind that you may be comparing an office with one or two sales people who may concentrate on a very small local area to a larger office with ten sales people but it will certainly give you an indication of which agents tend to get stuck with properties on their books for a long time and the reason for that is usually that they have overvalued the property.
Don't pick an agent purely based on fees, look at what the agent is going to offer you. If an agent is offering a very low fee but doesn't advertise on any of the property portals or in any of the property magazines your property will not receive the exposure it should and you will miss out on potential purchasers. One of the most important factors that people tend to overlook is the negotiating skill of a professional estate agent, they will squeeze every last penny out of the buyer on your behalf.
Finally, did the agent instil you with confidence? If that's a yes, then go ahead and instruct.
One last thing that the agent is probably too polite to tell you. Don't follow the agent and the buyer around on their viewings, keep out of the way and leave the agent to do the talking.