Buy and sell your home through estate agents

Buy or Sell your home using an estate agent

Buy and sell your home through estate agents


Wondering how long it takes to buy or sell a house through an estate agent? Not sure what questions to ask when viewing a property? This guide explains what estate agents do, what fees they might charge and looks at other ways to buy and sell property, including online.


Some estate agents might recommend mortgage brokers, surveyors, or lawyers. You can speak to them, but you do not need to use their services. It is always worth shopping around, as the savings can be significant.

Estate agents’ market and sell property, but they also:

  • Deal with paperwork
  • Monitor the chain (of buyers selling their old home and sellers buying their new home)
  • Liaise with your solicitor
  • Negotiate with buyers and sellers

Estate agents do not deal with surveys – you will need a surveyor, but they might have partnerships in place to recommend a surveyor to you.


There is no set timescale for a sale or purchase of a house. Buyers and sellers have different needs and issues can pop up and cause delays.


If you are buying a property, there should be no estate agent fees involved.

If you are selling, you will usually pay between 0.75% and 3.5% of the selling price to your estate agent.

Shop around and negotiate once you have found an estate agent you would like to work with.

Check the fee includes VAT or you will need to add another 20% to the price of the fee.


Stay in regular contact with your estate agent, so they think of you when the perfect property arrives on the market.

You can register with several estate agents.

To choose which will be best, look at the type of properties they offer, their fees (if applicable) and speak to friends and family for recommendations.


Make a note of conversations you have, including who you spoke to, the date and time.

This keeps you in control and is a useful reminder of what has been discussed and agreed.

Do you charge fees ?

Like other mortgage advisers we receive a payment from the lender at completion of your mortgage. However, unlike some other mortgage brokers we do not charge you a fee of any amount or description, regardless of the amount of work involved. Therefore, for these reasons, and because of our unbiased approach, more and more customers are turning to mortgage broker for advice every day.


We are here to save you money on your mortgage, not cost you more than it would if you did it yourself. Applying for your mortgage through us costs no more than it would going directly to a mortgage provider for the same deal.


Moreover, frequently we will have access to special deals not available directly from lender. 

Do you offer whole of market advice ?

Yes, we do. MDFS do not operate a limited panel of mortgage providers and have access to thousands of mortgage deals. Let’s not fool ourselves though, no matter how deep we research there may still be a deal that is exclusive to one bank, or even mortgage broker, that we cannot access. That does not mean we are unaware of it, simply that we cannot access it.


However, most deals are readily available to MDFS. We do not charge fees so what you see is what you get. A cheap mortgage rate deal where a fee is charged may not be as cheap as it looks, furthermore, most deals with a broker fee payable cost more than a deal where the broker does not charge a free…!

What type of Mortgages do you give advice on ?

We advise first time home buyers, people moving home, homeowners looking to switch deals or remortgage and buy to let mortgages.


When it comes to mortgage rates, we'll advise on the full range available, such as fixed, tracker, discount, capped and offset rates to name a few.


Also, we advise you about different repayment methods, interest only, repayment and split repayment.

do you keep me updated throughout the mortgage process ?

Yes. You will be sent updates about your mortgage application by email and SMS text message.


You are provided with access to a secure upload portal and private HUB as we don't want your personal documents flying all over the internet !


You can speak to your local fee free mortgage broker as well if you want to.

What do you do ?

MDFS connect people looking for mortgage advice with the best mortgage rates and criteria possible. We gather and review your financial information and documentation. We assess the mortgage amount you are requesting, your deposit, your income, and your credit record. Then, we match you up with a few different deals, outline and discuss the options available.


So, when you use MDFS, we are responsible for researching current mortgage rates. We are also responsible for making sure that you understand all the small print mortgage terms (closing costs, fees, and other conditions), and we sort through mountains of data to compare your choices.


Also, keep in mind that MDFS are not a bank or building society. As a result, we are not tied to one mortgage provider. We independently research mortgage lenders and have established relationships with each lender.

When are you available ?

Appointments can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That does not mean we are open, but you will have access to an adviser’s diary, and you can make your appointment booking.


Appointments are available from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday. However, Saturday and Sunday appointments need to be booked by telephone.


We are sure you will understand that appointment demand can be high and while your adviser will be happy to meet on the weekend, it is important that access is provided to priority cases. Just use our broker call back if you want to book a weekend appointment.

Get a Bigger Deposit

Save the biggest deposit you can. Most mortgage providers keep their lowest interest rates for borrowers with large deposits.

The top deals on the market are currently limited to those who have a deposit of between 35% and 40% of a property’s value. Higher loan to value mortgages tends to have higher interest rates.

Save up as much deposit as you possibly can.

Review your Credit Score

Consider your credit score. You may need a good credit score to qualify for the best mortgage deals. If you check your credit score you can be sure to avoid any surprises. Early checking will also give you time to correct any mistakes, should you find any.

Tidy Up Your Credit File

Try to pay off your debts and close any unused credit accounts.

Mortgage lenders look at the total amount of credit available to you – as well as the amount you owe. If they see a large credit line available this can affect your position.

Therefore, if you can, clear as much debt as possible and close any accounts you no longer use.

Tidy Up Your Address Records

Keep your address up to date. Nearly every mortgage provider will use the electoral roll to verify your identity. Your mortgage application may be rejected if you are not visible on the electoral roll at your current address.

This need not be a problem. Contact your Local Authority and ask for a registration form or sign up online. Furthermore, this will hopefully make sure that the address any credit agencies have for you is up-to-date.

By-Pass Some Unusual Properties

Avoid unusual properties. Mortgage providers all have different criteria. But all lenders want to make sure that they can get their money back should you fail to pay.


As a result, they are frequently less willing to lend against unusual properties, as these may be more difficult to sell on.


If you can avoid things like flats above commercial premises such as cafes and bars, homes built using non-standard construction materials such as concrete or steel.

Get Yourself Mortgage Ready

Make sure you have an up-to-date passport and that the address on your driving licence is correct.


Also, you may need to provide a recent statement from say a bank or utility company, as this also contains your address.


If you are employed, you will need to provide bank statements and payslips for the last three months and maybe your P60s for the last two years. If you have commission or bonuses you will need to send evidence of these too.


Self Employed

Self-employed always come under greater scrutiny and generally must provide even more evidence of earnings as a result.


Self-employed applicants will therefore need to provide HMRC SA302s for the last two or even three years. Perhaps full accounts for the last two to three years as well.


If you are a first-time buyer with a ‘mortgage in principle’, make sure you mention this when you meet sellers as it puts you in a strong position to move things forward quickly.

When a property catches your eye, do not be afraid to ask lots of questions. Bear in mind asking the right questions now might save you quite a lot of money in the future.

Estate agents have a duty to be truthful so grill them for details.

This is not a time to be shy. Ask questions such as:

  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Are there any works expected on the property?
  • What will be included in the sale? (Curtains? Light fittings? Furniture?)
Making an offer

You or the seller can pull out at any time before the exchange of contracts takes place.

Your offer should be:

Subject to contract (STC) – the final sale takes place only when lawyers have exchanged legally binding documents.
Subject to survey – this allows for the cost of any faults or issues to be considered once your surveyor has checked the property out.

Once your offer has been accepted, make sure the estate agent has taken the property off the market and is no longer advertising it for viewings.

If someone else is interested and views it, you risk someone else coming in with a higher offer, which is known as gazumping.

You should receive a letter from the estate agent confirming your offer. If you do not receive this, then make sure to ask for one.


Making an offer with a sealed bid, where the price offered is secret, is normal practice in Scotland but not so common elsewhere.

Sealed bids are not legally binding. Outside Scotland sealed bids are usually only asked for when there is competition for a property. Potential buyers will be given a guide price, and it is expected their sealed bid will be higher than this.

Feel free to ask the estate agent for advice on what to bid, but remember they are working for the seller, not you. Avoid rounding up the figure you offer. For instance, if you think the property is worth £250,000, you could put in a sealed bid for £251,500. Let them know how quickly you can move.
A date is set for sealed bids to be received, either by the estate agent or seller’s solicitor – they are usually opened at the same time.

The successful buyer will then be told they have the winning offer.


Once you have decided to sell using an estate agent, choose one by asking questions about their track record in selling properties like yours.

Find out how they intend to market your property online, as this is where many people start their search. And remember, there will be a fee involved.


If things go wrong, you have the right to make a complaint. Talk to your estate agent first, raise your concerns and give them an opportunity to respond.

If you are not satisfied with their response you can get in touch with the property ombudsman who covers your agent.

The Property Ombudsman Service (TPOS)
The Property Redress Scheme


There are websites which will help you find a buyer, or sell your property, saving you a considerable amount of money.

For sale listing services only, remember you are responsible for:

  • Putting up the ‘For Sale’ sign and adding your phone number
  • Taking interior and exterior photographs
  • Negotiating on price with potential buyers
  • Showing potential buyers round your property
  • Organising Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
  • Providing details and dimensions about the size of rooms

Online selling costs vary between websites, so make sure you are clear about what you are getting for your money. You might also be charged whether you sell your property or not.

Online estate agents must be members of a professional regulatory body.


This can be a popular (and quicker) way to buy or sell properties which might need refurbishment or have been repossessed.

You will probably pay a 10% deposit with the remainder payable within 28 days, so you will need to have money ready.

Remember there will be costs to consider such as entry fee for the catalogue and auction, commission, solicitors fees and survey costs.

We have more guides available for first time buyers, home buyers, remortgages and buy to let.

We also recommend The Money Advice Service if you want more detailed information.