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As well as the cold weather, January brings with it the promise of new beginnings. So it’s no surprise that it’s the time of year when a huge number of people put their house on the market.

However, finding the right estate agent can be daunting, so we’ve put together some ‘tips of the trade’ on what to avoid and how to choose wisely.

All that glitters: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some agents will over-value a property to get your business, rather than be realistic. Make sure you get two or three quotes to get a rounded view from several experts.

Bogus buyers: be wary of agents that tell you they have a buyer ‘lined up’ for you on their valuation visit. This could genuinely be the case, but unfortunately it can sometimes be a way to get you to sign up with them without a buyer existing.

Sole purpose: look out for contracts with ‘sole selling rights’ in the terms of business. If you end up selling to a friend or your cousin for example, the agent could still try and take a fee due to this clause.

Shop around: some agents offer access to their own in-house solicitors and mortgage brokers. But don’t feel obliged to use these, be sure to shop around and make sure you get the right deal for you.

Quality counts: be sure to check out the industry qualifications of the agency you are thinking of using. An agent that is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) for example, has to undergo regular training and keep up to date with the latest regulations to ensure quality standards