how to choose an estate agent


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Anyone looking to sell their property in the UK knows how expensive estate agent fees can be. You may think that there's nothing you can do about them, but that's not true!

I've sold a few houses in my time and have been thankful for researching to minimise costs. After all, moving is an expensive process!

This article will go through the different options available when selling your and how to save on those estate agents fees, which can be thousands!

Average Estate Agent Fee

Estate agency fees can vary depending on what service you opt for. A high street estate agent's fee is usually a percentage of your final sale price which could be between 1-2.5%.

Online estate agency fees are different they usually charge a fixed fee, you should expect to pay between £995-£1500 depending on if you live in or outside of London.

To bring your costs down the first step is to compare estate agent fees which we will cover in this complete guide.

Related article: How to Choose an Estate Agent

What's Involved With Estate Agent Fees? Jargon Explained

When selling your home, there are a few things you need to consider when it comes to estate agents fees.

Commission Fees 

This is the fee that estate agents charge for finding a buyer and completing the sale. This usually ranges from 0.75% to around, but it can be as high as 3%.

This may seem like a lot, but remember, an estate agent will have a large number of buyers looking at your home, and they will have extensive knowledge of the market, which could save you a lot of time and hassle.

Marketing Fees 

Most agents will also charge for marketing your property. This can range from a couple of hundred pounds to several thousand depending on their advertising level.

Included in this fee is usually things like professional photography, floor plans and creating/advertising on platforms such as RightMove and Zoopla. 

Administration Fees 

This is a fee that the estate agent may charge for advertising, viewings, legal work and many more. These fees can range from £50-£500 and are often unavoidable.

VAT: If the estate agent charges over £ VAT, you will have to pay an additional 20% of the total fee.

Selling your property yourself: This is an option that is growing in popularity and can save you a lot of money on estate agent fees. We will go into more detail about this further down in this guide.

Hidden Costs

As well as the commission and administration fees, there are several other costs that estate agents may try to charge you, such as advertising.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): This is a document showing your home's energy efficiency. It's required by law for all homes to have one and must be given out before an estate agent will agree to market your property, or you'll need to pay up to £125. If you house is under 10 years old you should have one, to find out if you do simply go on to EPC checker

Premium on Rightmove: If you want to give your property the most exposure possible in a bid for it to sell for the best price, you may consider a premium listing on the right move.

Premium Marketing Service

Packages vary between agents, but a premium marketing service could include virtual home tours, premium listings on the right move and Zoopla and professional photography services.

Guided Tours

You might decide you want to distance yourself from the process of selling your home. If you're uncomfortable or don't have time to show people around your home, then a guided tour package may be a cost you need to consider if not included in the estate agent package.

Online vs High Street Estate Agents

Nowadays, there are two routes you can go down when selling your home online or high street. Both have their pros and cons. In this guide, we will explore both.

High Street Agents/Traditional Estate Agent Fees

If you go with a high street estate agent, they will take a commission fee. The average estate agent fee is 1.42% of the final selling price (inc VAT), according to a July 2018 survey by the Advisory for the sole agency.

So, for example, if your house sells for £200,000, you would have to pay the estate agent £2840. There are also other hidden costs that we will go over further on in this guide.

Before signing with any high street agent, be sure to check the total fees. Commission can be just part of the fee structure. Other extras could include:

  • Marketing fees
  • Professional photography
  • Administration fees

Local estate agents can offer some advantages such as having specialist knowledge of local areas and having a local customer base.

Online Estate Agents & Fees

The birth of online estate agents have been a game-changer for anyone selling their home, and many have much lower prices due to limited overhead costs.

Online estate agents can range from free to around £1000. However, some require a minimum of properties for sale and charge different fees depending on which package you choose.

When you compare this fee to a commission fee on your total house price, you could be set to save thousands.

The drawback to online estate agents is usually paying a fee upfront instead of when the property sells, meaning you need to be sure you will go through with the sale and have money available to pay. Although this is not the case with Yopa.

Related article: Best Online Estate Agents

Who are the Online Agents?

Yopa

Yopa estate agent fees

Yopa has been ranked the best online estate agent buy online estate agent picker. Having scored excellent customer reviews and flexible packages to suit most buyers, Yopa is a valid contender for your house move.

Yopa also claims to sell your home 25 days faster than average and save you £2800 on estate agents fees or £6000 in London.

Good to know:

  • 4.7 star rating on Trust Pilot based on over 15,000 verified customer reviews.
  • Free valuation
  • Online portal to manage your property listing and put you in control of your sale.
  • No sale, no fee options available.
  • Option to pay later.
  • Fixed Fee starting from £999.
  • Floor plans, professional photos, online advert included in the basic package.
  • The dedicated local agent in the majority of the UK

You can book a free valuation with Yopa here.

Strike

Strike estate agent fees

The strike is a national online estate agent that offers service that starts for free. They are a good choice if you are looking for an estate agent where you mainly want to do everything yourself but need a way to get your advert on Rightmove and Zoopla.

Strike make money by selling a proportion of their customer's optional extras such as professional photos, premium right move listings and hosted tours.

Good to know:

  • Trust Pilot score 4.7 with over 15,000 reviews.
  • Strike offers a completely free package that includes valuation of your property, listing on Rightmove and Zoopla and floorplans/standard photos.
  • Expect to pay an additional £499 if you want help with professional photography and additional marketing exposure.
  • Strike charges £699 for hosted viewings.

You can book a free valuation with Strike here.

Purplebricks

Purple bricks estate agent fees

Purplebricks are a well known online estate agent. Having vast experience and still racking up many positive customer reviews, Purplebricks are still a leading online estate agent.

Good to know:

  • Fees start from £999 outside of London and £1499 for London (inc VAT)
  • 4.5 Trust Pilot rating on 85k reviews
  • Free Valuations available
  • You will have a local agent assigned to you once you sign up with Purplebricks.
  • Floor plans, professional photos, and an online advert are included in the standard package.
  • Option to pay on instruction or up to 10 months after
  • Extra costs are an EPC certificate (£85), featured right move advert (£125), and if you want Purple bricks to do the viewing for you, it is £300 (£399 London)

You can book a free valuation with Purplebricks here.

Are Online Estate Agent Fees Always Cheaper?

Although online estate agents can be much cheaper than traditional agencies, many think they always charge less.

The truth is all the internet-based companies have overhead costs such as rent, staff and advertising just like any other company, so you might not save as much as first thought with every agent. You should be clear about the full pricing structure and your individual needs before selling.

For instance, do you need any of the following, which can sometimes be an extra:

  • Professional photos
  • Guided tours

Cheaper shouldn't always be your main factor, you need to look at the totality, as you want a agent that can get you the most for your property. 

Tip: get 3-4 quotes at least before deciding on your estate agent. It's worth it to see the research they have done so that you market your home for the right price.

What Can You Do To Save On Estate Agent Fees?

So now we know what fees need to be paid when selling your home. It's time to look at how you can save money on those agent fees! There are a few tricks savvy savers can take to maximise profits. These include

Negotiate on fees

This is more effective with high street estate agents than online (where prices are more set in stone), but it's still worth doing. Try and get the agent to lower their fees by a couple of hundred pounds, even if it means reducing the service you receive. Be clear with the estate agents what service you want and show them other offers you have found. Most estate agents will be willing to negotiate. You just have to ask.

Compare Estate Agents

Comparing estate agent fees is definitely the easiest way to save money and make more money on selling your property you absolutely want to get a good valuation from a few sources. 

Again, this is more important when selling through high street estate agents as prices vary massively. It's always worth getting quotes from at least three different agents to see who can offer the best deal. If an online agent is used, it's harder to shop around as you can only compare websites. However, it's still worth looking at what fees are being charged by a few different agents to ensure that the costs miss you out.

Use an Online Agent

If you are selling online, look for a cheaper agent with a good website and customer service. This way, they will have fewer office overheads and pass the savings on to you.

Sell Directly

This is not a recommendation of this guide but, of course, listed because it is a genuine way to cut down fees.

Selling directly is the most radical way of cutting out estate agents fees, but it can be done. You would have to market your house yourself and handle all viewings, but if you manage to find a buyer, you won't need to pay any commission! You can use platforms such as Facebook Marketplace to do this. However, take caution before following this route. Estate agents are professionals in their field and will be able to give you data on the best price to list and list it to the maximum amount of people, maximising your chances of getting the best price for your property.

Although you will save on estate agent fees, you could lose money by not securing the maximum amount for your home sale.

A few things should be considered before going down this route.

Firstly, you will need to be confident at marketing yourself and your home! Many companies can help with this, but the house must be marketed correctly, attracting buyers.

Secondly, there have been some cases where sellers who try to sell directly get caught out with buyers intent on scamming them. It's important to do your research and make sure you know who you're dealing with before agreeing to any sale.

Finally, if selling a property without an agent, you will likely need to offer some discount. This is because agents usually add their fee to the asking price, so you are reducing the price by removing the agent.

Before considering this route, I would suggest getting estate agents in or using Strike, who will offer you advice on valuation and list your property on the right move.

Should I Choose the Cheapest Estate Agent?

Not necessarily, as cheapest doesn't always mean best. The ultimate goal of selling your home is to secure the maximum profit. Your choice of estate agent should be a balance between the cost and potential of a sale.

My Personal Experience

When I sold my first home, I chose a local estate agent over the online one in my area. However, the online estate agent was a thousand pounds cheaper when I researched the quality of photos on listings in my area on the online estate agent vs the local, the local won. The local estate agent was also available to quickly get the house to the market. He was helpful and knowledgeable, and easily contactable.

It turned out to be the right decision as I secured £3000 over the asking price, so that extra £1000 in fees was worth it, and overall it was the cheaper service. The moral of the story is to check the full picture before deciding on an estate agent.

Things to Check Before Deciding on Your Estate Agent

estate agent service

What service do you need?

 Be clear about what service you need, prepare to host visits etc.? This will help you narrow down your search. If you are loking for the most service, for instance, you may want to stick to high street estate agents.

Check other listings

Check other listings of your potential estate agent. What are the photos like? Are they professional? Would they make you want to visit?

house photo
check reviews

Check reviews

Check review sites like Trust Pilot and Google reviews to see what the service is like for your chosen estate agents. You can also use all about agents to see reviews in your local area. Check a few sources. 

And finally...

 Once you have narrowed your potentials to 2-3, ask them to tell them you are comparing services and if they can do any better on price. If you have a home worth over £500,000, agents who work on commission tend to negotiate. 

Can you Negotiate on Estate Agent Fees?

Yes! Depending on the market and your home, you can negotiate with estate agents. Please do some research first, find out what is a normal fee in your area and how much homes are normally sold for so that they see you as serious about selling.

Before negotiating, make sure to have good reasons why the estate agent should negotiate including

  • Have you found another cheaper agent?
  • Make your property presentable, everyone wants an easy sale.
  • Are you willing to recommend them? or put a review on Google etc so a discount for you could help their business. 

Do I have to pay fees if I decide not to sell?

If you back out of a deal, you are likely to be charged for the costs associated with advertising, such as they have already incurred. It is also typical to be required to pay some or all of the estate agent's commission if there is a "ready, willing, and able" buyer clause in your contract.

Another clause to look out for is “sole selling rights,” which means that the agent is the only one allowed to sell your property during the term of the agreement but also earn their commission whether you find a buyer yourself. This should be avoided in estate agency agreements.

This will vary between estate agents, so it's always best to check and ask before signing any contract.

Do estate agent fees include VAT?

Not always be sure to check with your estate agent before signing on. This will usually be stated on the website if VAT is included but not always if it's a local, so always ask the question as an extra 20% is no joke!

When should I pay the estate agent?

This varies between estate agents and should be considered before you decide by asking or checking the estate agent's contract.

Estate agents are required by law to disclose all fees upfront, and they must be paid upon completion (when the property has been sold and contracts exchanged). Some estate agents may ask you to pay in advance; the estate agency agreement will state when fees must be paid.

Where terms are payment on completion, your agent will send their invoice to your solicitor and, upon completion of the sale, your solicitor will settle the agent’s bill directly out of your sale proceeds before transferring the balance to you.

Do buyers pay estate agent fees in the UK?

No, the seller always pays the estate agent fees in the UK. It's up to the seller to find an estate agent whose fees they are happy with.

Can you claim the VAT back on estate agent fees?

Because customers are the primary target for most estate and letting agency businesses, they cannot reclaim VAT.

Ideally, agents should clearly disclose fees and rates that include VAT in print or online wherever they advertise - and even on their websites. It's always a good measure to check before you sign on with an estate agent if

How to Minimise Estate Agent Fees: Bottom line

Estate agent fees can be a large expense that you might not have anticipated before selling your home. However, there are ways to reduce these costs and save yourself money!

By learning how much estate agents typically charge for their services, what your options are if they don't play fair pricing, and which clauses in contracts should make you pause. You'll feel more confident negotiating with estate agents once you know all this information.

About the author 

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is a passionate advocate for financial freedom. She is the founder of MeMoreMoney, and a featured Personal Finance expert in GO Banking Rates and Yahoo! Finance. Mary loves to make money simple and understandable for everyone. Her goal is to help people make simple changes so that they have more money to live the way they want.

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