If you've been asking yourself questions like,'Can I instruct more than one estate agent at the same time?' or 'How many estate agents should I use?', this post is for you.

We're going to run you through your options regarding sole, joint, or multiple agencies, give you a brief rundown of what each means, and explore some of the pros and cons associated with them. We'll also give you our honest opinion on what we think is the best approach for sellers once we're done.

So, without further ado, let's jump straight in and answer one of the most popular questions sellers have...

Can I instruct more than one estate agent at the same time?

Yes, you can. In fact, you have a few options available to you. These are:

  • Sole agents
  • Joint sole agents
  • Multiple agents

These terms sound straightforward enough, and they are in principle, but there are a few things you want to be aware of before you dive in and sign on the dotted line.

What do the terms sole, joint, and multiple estate agents mean for sellers?

Now we've established that you can indeed use more than one agent to sell your home, it's time to look at the options in a little more depth:

Sole agents

As one would expect, instructing a sole agent means that you will only have one estate agent taking care of your property sale.

Sole agency agreements will likely have a contract duration, after which you can either extend your agreement, go with another agent altogether, or switch to joint or multiple agencies should your property remain unsold.

One thing many people are unaware of is the fact that you can still sell your home with another agent whilst tied into a sole agent agreement. However, you will still have to stump up a commission to your original sole agent as well as to the agent who sold the home, which means you'll end up paying double.

Joint agents

Instructing joint agents is somewhat of a middle ground between having a sole agent and multiple agencies.

Joint agency agreements mean that you'll have two, rather than one, agents working to sell your property, but no more than that.

Both of the agents in question must agree to this, and the decision over who gets the commission once the property is sold will also be made before the agreement is drawn up. In some instances, agents may agree to share the commision once the sale has completed.

Multiple agents

Again, this is fairly self-explanatory.

Instructing multiple agencies means that you can have as many estate agents as you wish promoting your property for you...providing you are willing to pay multiple fees that are usually charged at a higher rate, of course.

Got it. So, how many estate agents should I use?

sole female estate agent valuing a property

Naturally, that decision can only be made be you, but we would always advise clients to think very carefully before opting for anything other than instructing sole agents to handle their sale.

In fact, the vast majority of estate agents would prefer you to offer your home for sale on a sole agency basis, and the reason why is obvious: As sole agents, they will be guaranteed the commision should your property be sold.

However, just because it is in the estate agent’s interest to have you sign up for a sole agent agreement doesn't mean it's not in your best interest as well...quite the opposite, in fact.

Employing a sole agent will likely mean far lower costs for you, the seller, and, as you'll see below, many of the common reasons given for employing multiple estate agents simply do not stand up to scrutiny. Opting for anything other than sole agents also runs the risk of diluting your marketing efforts and smacks of desperation.

Therefore, multiple agency sales are not ideal for either party: agents or sellers. Estate agents don't like them and sellers often don't receive the service they deserve, despite inflating their costs considerably (it's not uncommon to pay as much as 3% plus VAT for a multiple agency agreement compared to 1% to 1.5% plus VAT charged by a sole agent, for example).

So, why would anyone use multiple agents?

Good arguments for doing so are few and far between. If you really need to shift your property fast you may consider a multiple agency agreement, but you run the risk of hoisting a red flag marked desperation above your property, which could put many buyers off altogether.

Wouldn't you ask yourself why someone is so desperate to sell if you were a buyer? Wouldn't you wonder whether or not there was something wrong with the property? If you would ask these questions, then you can be certain that others would, too.

Common reasons given for using multiple agents

Many people mistakenly believe that taking on multiple agents will increase visibility, speed up the sale, and ultimately bring in more money once the sale completes, but this can often backfire.

Let's address each one individually:

  • Increased visibility and reach - Property portals such as Rightmove make it easy for buyers to search by area these days, regardless of the estate agent they are registered with, so increased visibility isn't really a good enough reason for sellers to pay higher fees.
  • Faster sale - It's certainly true in some instances that signing a multiple agency agreement will result in a quicker sale, but at what cost? Will the faster sale be because of pushy agents fighting tooth and nail to get low offers accepted just so they get the commission instead of their competitors?
  • Better price - Many believe that pitting agent against agent will result in a higher price for their property but, as we mentioned in the previous point, this is often not the case. It's also worth pointing out that buyers in the higher end of the market are shrewd and aren't interested in playing games. In short, many prospective buyers will be put off by an unscrupulous agent's shenanigans. They simply will not tolerate being played off against other buyers, and rightly so.

Tips for working with a sole agent

Just as buying a home is probably going to be the biggest purchase you're likely to make in your lifetime, selling a property is going to be the largest sale. Therefore, choosing your sole agent wisely makes a lot of sense.

Key things sellers should look out for when selecting an estate agent include:

  • Photography - Do they use a professional photographer who will present your property as it deserves to be?
  • Marketing - Do they offer property in an attractive way that broadens reach? Will they ensure your home is seen by the widest audience?
  • Accreditation - Are they fully accredited by the industry's governing bodies that will hold them to a standard of excellence at all times?
  • Portals - Do they utilise property portals such as Rightmove to broaden your reach?
  • Website - While property portals are important, does the agent have a modern, easy-to-navigate website that is well worded and trustworthy?
  • Relationship - Do you feel as though you could work with the agent?

If you check all of the above you should be in good shape, but you should still be willing to work with your agent during the sale. The property market is fluid, so be prepared to work closely with your agent during your time with them.

Sticking with your agent and trusting your initial judgement after going through the selection tips laid out above will stand you in good stead and ultimately end up with you getting the result you want...a 'SOLD' board outside your property and price you're happy with.

Can we help you?

Naturally, we like to think that we meet all of the above criteria and more here at Petty Son and Prestwich. We strive to make every point of contact your property has with potential buyers perfect and always give our sellers instant feedback, so we think we'd be the perfect sole agent for you and your home...hopefully you'll agree!

If you do, or if you have any questions about our service, get in touch with us today. We'd be delighted to hear from you.

sole or multiple should sellers us more than one agent