Spring is round the corner and love is in the air. Yet spare a thought for poor estate agents. Often portrayed in the media as slightly less popular than traffic wardens, estate agents may not be the most obvious objects of your affection on Valentine’s Day - or any other day of the year for that matter.

But right at the moment, in this dire economic climate, finding a good estate agent can be a bit like finding the perfect sweetheart. It is always best to have someone by your side who values you, who will fight for you, who won’t answer back (too much) and who has all your best interests at heart. Perhaps such a person may not make such a bad partner after all.

Of course there are good partners and bad partners. Achieving a successful sale rests heavily on the partnership built up between seller and estate agent. A good agent will put your property on a pedestal and then negotiate fiercely to achieve the best deal for you. On the other hand, a lesser agent may just put your property on the internet along with all their others and just hope for the best. The only haggling this type of agent is usually prepared to do for you is to offer a cut price fee at the outset, which they hope will make up for all of their other shortcomings and lack of service.

There can often be a great deal of difference between the results obtained by an agent who cares about you and an agent who doesn’t. Thousands of pounds can be gained or lost on your sale price, depending on the capabilities and professionalism of the individual agent handling your negotiations. What might at first look like the cheapest deal can often turn out at the end to have been the most expensive!

The trick is finding the right agent at the start. It’s a bit like finding the best boyfriend or girlfriend. They may look roughly the same but in practice they all act very differently. You need to get to know them properly first.

So if you are searching for the right estate agent this spring, why not invite a few around to give you some marketing advice and see how you get on. Visit their offices and see how you’re treated. Visit their websites and see what you think. Then ask yourself which one you would prefer to deal with. The right answer is usually the one who you feel most comfortable with, and who you feel will act in the most decent way. The one you know you can depend on. No, estate agents are not all the same.