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Estate Agents - Selling your Property

When selling a house, people often approach an estate agent to put their property on the market, although more people are now choosing to sell direct and save large fees.

The Estate Agent typically offers the following:

  • Suggesting an Asking Price (not Valuation) for your property

    It is important to realise that an Estate Agent does not value your property. A property valuation is carried out by a qualified surveyor and costs several hundred pounds. An estate agent has no qualification in house valuation, and their estimation would not be accepted by an insurance companies as a basis for your buildings insurance.

    An estate agent uses their experience of similar properties in the area to suggest an asking price. As it is a "gut feel", there is no science and you are likely to have as much of an idea as an estate agent. Always get more than one estimation - you might be surprised to find a large difference in each agent's estimation.

    Never accept an agent's estimation at face value. An Estate Agent is in business and their aim, like most other businesses, is to maximise their profits. If you feel their estimation is too low, it might be because they want to make a quick sale so they receive their commission faster (cash is king). Estate Agents, at the end of the day, are salesmen.

    Remember that the valuation only sets the asking price. At the end of the day, your house is only worth what someone will pay for it.

  • Photographing house and producing publicity material (including house description).

  • Advertising your house in their window, through "For Sale" boards, via mail-outs and possibly the press.

  • Organising appointments for prospective buyers to view the property.

What commission do they charge?

Expect anything from 1% to 2% of the house price.

Don't forget to add VAT at 20%. For example, a £500,000 property at 2% commission is £10,000. You need to then add another 20% (£2000), which means you actually pay £1200 in total commission.

Can I negotiate the commission?

Everything in life is negotiable.

How many Estate Agents?

Choose one (a sole agent) and you'll pay less commission. Choose two or more and commissions could double.

Can I advertise my home with HouseWeb and with an Estate Agent?

Yes. If you are thinking of using an estate agent, check that their contract does not have the term "sole selling rights" (this is different from "sole agent rights"). If it does have this in, ask for it to be removed before signing. If they won't remove it and you still wish to use an agent, find another estate agent that will.

If I sell my home with HouseWeb do I still need to pay the Estate Agent?

No. The Office of Fair Trading state that so long as you have not signed a contract with a clause giving the agent "sole selling rights" you do not have to pay them. As HouseWeb is not an estate agent, even if your estate agent contract specifies "sole agent rights", you still do not have to pay them commission.

Choosing an Estate Agent

Here are some tips for choosing the right Estate Agent:
  • Where they recommended to you by someone? If not, find someone who has used them to get the inside story. Would they use them again?
  • Interview the agent before instructing. Find out if he/she has a sound local knowledge and knowledge of comparable properties in the community.
  • Does the agent have any links with the community?
  • Does he/she look you in straight in the eye?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the person (if you do not, how will the buyer feel?).
  • Do you trust the individual?
  • Will the service really be worth £3,000 plus? Would you prefer to save the commission?
  • Could you do a better job selling your house without an agent (through HouseWeb)?
  • Check to see how experienced he/she is. Remember that there are no qualifications needed in order to set up as an Estate Agent, so be very careful.
  • What are your first impressions? Do you get along well right away? Are they really sincere?
  • Will they treat you as a special customer, or will you be be just another name on the list?
  • Are they a member of the national estate agent body - NAEA (the majority are not!).
  • Do some research before valuation. This will give you a realistic idea of your home's worth, and test their own assumption. It has been know for some agents to price a house for a quick sale, so that they earn their commission quickly, at the expense of the homeowner.

What Estate Agents Scams have been Reported?

Some Estate Agents have been caught and punished by the Office of Fair Trading for conning client. In some cases this has lead to a homeowner losing thousands of pounds. A number of reported scams, including "Back-to-Back Selling" are detailed on the Discussion Forum under "Estate Agent Horror Stories". You have a right to know about these and should make yourself familiar with them. If you have been the subject of any scams, please detail them on the Forum.

As the estate agent sits between the buyer and the seller, they are ultimately the only party who have all information. This position of power can be potentially abused, possibly at the expense of the buyer, seller or both parties. One common complaint is the inventing of fictitious buyers making offers to force the price up.

Managing the Estate Agent

In a lot of cases, you need to manage the Estate Agent to ensure you get the best service. Here are some tips:
  • It is important to make clear all matters of the sale before it is completed. Never assume anything - don't forget to talk about fixtures and fittings.
  • Save yourself and the agent time and aggravation. Only call her/him when you've made a definite decision to sell.
  • Confirm each stage of the sale in writing with the agent.
  • Arrange for a solicitor or conveyancer as soon as you think you might be ready to place an offer. If the agent recommends one, do not simply except their recommendation. Do some research yourself.
  • Pay all your fees on time. If you do not feel the agent has earned their money, let them know and dispute what you should pay them.

Is it possible to sell my house without using an Estate Agent?

Yes! You can advertise your house to thousands of prospective buyers on HouseWeb. (See The HouseWeb Approach to Selling your House). Many people have successfully sold their house using HouseWeb and saved on average £4,100. To find out more about advertising your property click here.

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