Three signs that you shouldn't trust your estate agent

Watch out for these red flags!

Selling and buying a property can be stressful, but choosing an estate agent to help will make it much easier, right? Sadly that’s not always the case. Anyone who has braved the housing markets will know that choosing an estate agent can be a bit of a gamble. They are all smiles when you first meet them but not all of them will generally be out to help you.

Related: Phil Spencer reveals the secrets behind estate agent hot buyer list – including how to get onto it

It doesn’t matter whether you are a buyer or seller, you can still get a slippery estate agent who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. So how do you spot when you’re working with one of these rogue agents?

These are the three red flags to look out for if you’re wondering whether you should ditch your estate agent for a better one – and trust us, there are some decent ones out there.

Choosing an estate agent – how to tell if they're dodgy

1. They ask what your bottom line or maximum price limit is

‘Never let them know your bottom line (if you’re selling) or your maximum price (if you’re buying),’ advises the Home Owners Alliance website. ‘Otherwise, the chances are you’ll end up having to settle for it,’ the organisation warns.

brown bricks house with white windows and door

(Image credit: Future PLC/Oliver Gordon)

If you catch your estate agent pushing you for this information, this is a sure sign that they are just looking to get their commission for as few hours work as possible. You want an estate agent who is going to work to get the best deal for you, especially as a seller.

2. They don’t pick up the first time you call them

This might seem a bit picky, but Adham Sbeih, the CEO of Socotra Capital insists that you should start shopping for a new estate agent if they fail to pick up their phone immediately.

kitchen with white walls chairs and hanging lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

‘When it comes to real estate agents, the first impression is always telling,’ he told Reader’s Digest. ‘If an agent doesn’t pick up the phone the first time you call them, that’s an automatic thumbs down.’

He explains that buying a house is often a time-sensitive situation, where you need estate agents to respond quickly. If they don’t pick up on that first ring they’ve already show themselves to be unreliable.

3. They start talking in price per square foot

This is never a good sign if an estate starts talking about this when you a viewing a house, buying agent Henry Pryor told the Mail Online. ‘If an agent starts quoting price per sq ft you know he’s on the back foot,’ he explained.

modern living room with white wall couch with cushions and coffee table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

‘I know there is a wall of money trying to commoditise second-hand homes, but if I told you that the house you wanted to buy was worth more per square inch/foot/meter would you pay more? Of course, you wouldn’t!’ he added.

When it comes to buying or selling a house, size isn’t everything, you need to factor in location, specification, natural light and condition to work out the best price.

Related: You can sell your home for free with this leading estate agent

If you experience any of these red flags, it might time to kick your estate agent to the kerb and keep shopping around.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.