The housing market is slowly on the move, which may prompt you to make a move yourself! It might be a while since you were last in the business of buying or selling a home, so how do you choose the right estate agent for you?

One of the best methods is personal recommendation, but you can also take a look around your local area to see which estate agents are the most active. Don’t be fooled, though, by the number of ‘For Sale’ signs on display. It’s the ones that say ‘Sold’ that count!

Look for estate agents experienced in selling properties similar to yours; chances are they will have a good pool of prospective buyers. Once you have identified potential companies, visit their offices and pretend to be a buyer. You will soon discover how helpful the staff are and how keen they are to make a sale!

From your potentials, make a shortlist of three and invite them to value your property, but don’t go automatically for the highest evaluation. This may simply be a ploy to attract your business. Do a bit of research yourself to give an idea of what similar properties are selling for, and check the agents’ experience and knowledge of your area .

Ask what their service includes: Where will your property be advertised? Newspapers and online property websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove are fairly standard. Who will conduct the viewings? What marketing materials will be produced? Photographs, floor plans and virtual online tours are some you could expect. Will a sale board be provided?

Finally, agree on a fee. Sole agents charge 1%-2% of the selling price, and multiple agents 1.5%-2.5%, but you might be able to negotiate a better rate. However, a low fee could result in reduced enthusiasm. A better alternative might be to pay the full fee if the full asking price is achieved, and a sliding scale for any offers below it.

It is possible to sell your home online. Currently responsible for 5% of property sales, online agents such as Emoov, House Network and Tepilo offer a basic pre-agreed package of services for a typical flat fee of £300-1,000, with extras available at an additional cost.

Online agents are cheaper and more convenient with call centres open during evenings and weekends, but they are short of local knowledge, don’t conduct viewings and may lack the incentive to negotiate the best selling price due to their fixed fee policy. Chances are you will also need to become more personally involved in the sales process.

Whichever route you choose to follow, all agents need to belong to either the Property Ombudsman or the Ombudsman Services: Property.