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Our Guide to Estate Agent Fees

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If you’re in the market to sell a property, one of the many costs associated with selling is estate agent fees. Now, while estate agents are great resources and provide a valuable service, they come at a cost. Many sellers are often unaware of this until after consulting an estate agent. 

In this article, we aim to provide clarity on estate agent fees, what they entail, how they’re calculated, and ways to reduce them. We’ll also offer alternative ways that can help get your property sold. 

Let’s get started with the question that most likely brought you here:

How much are estate agent fees? 

Estate agent fees in the UK are not a one-size-fits-all situation; they vary based on location, type of service, and the contract you choose. Generally, these fees are charged as a percentage of your property’s sale price, payable upon successful sale. 

If you opt for a sole agency contract, where only one agency markets your home, you can expect a fee of between 1% and 2% of the sale price. This relatively lower percentage reflects the exclusivity and commitment between the seller and the agent.

However, fees can escalate to around 3.5% for comprehensive services that include extensive marketing and personalised attention. These premium services often appeal to sellers looking for a comprehensive sales strategy.

In contrast, a multi-agency contract allows you to engage multiple agencies simultaneously, paying commission only to the one that successfully sells your property. This arrangement, while offering broader exposure, usually commands higher fees, averaging around 3%. The rationale is the increased competition and effort among agents to secure the sale. This option is quite popular as it means estate agents have to devote time and attention in order to secure the deal. 

While estate agent fees range from 1%-3.5%, you shouldn’t opt for the cheapest option available. As with many things in life, cheap isn’t always the best. You may end up signing a deal, which means an estate agent has sole rights to market your property, only to find a few months later they’re unable to find a buyer. This results in your property remaining longer on the market and potentially having to be relisted by another agency in the future. 

What do estate agent fees usually include?

When you engage an estate agent in the UK, the fee you pay will cover a range of services that are much-needed to ensure your property can be sold. Here are some examples of what you can expect:

Valuation

One of the primary services is the valuation of your property. Estate agents use their market knowledge and experience to price your home appropriately, aiming to attract buyers while ensuring you get a fair price.

Marketing

This is a crucial component. Estate agents will market your property so that it is visible to potential buyers. This includes listing on popular online property portals, on their agency’s website, and any other avenues that offer success in your local area. A big part of the marketing process is understanding how to use marketing methods to successfully sell a property. The basics are taking high-quality photographs and writing detailed property descriptions, while nowadays, using social media is another highly valuable asset. Estate agents will be experienced and trained in all of these methods to ensure success. 

Viewings

Conducting viewings is another service that is essential to getting a property sold. Agents handle the scheduling and management of these viewings, showing your property to potential buyers. Some agents offer accompanied viewings, where they are present to show your home, which can add value by using their sales expertise to highlight its features. Estate agents can also encourage people from their network to come along for viewings, which can potentially source a buyer.

Negotiation and sales management

Estate agents play an important part in negotiating sale prices and terms with potential buyers. They work to achieve the best possible price and terms for you. Once a sale is agreed upon, they also manage the process, collaborating with solicitors and others involved to ensure a smooth transaction.

Communication and advice

Throughout the selling process, a good estate agent will keep you informed and provide advice on any offers received. Their expertise can ensure you never feel overwhelmed during the selling process. 

While it may seem obvious, remember that not all estate agents offer the same level and quality of service. Some may have years of experience, while some may be new to the market. 

Therefore, when comparing fees, also consider the range and quality of services included to ensure you’re making a like-for-like comparison.

Estate agent fee calculator

Estate agent fees will typically cost around 1%-3.5%, depending on the contract you agree upon. 

So, for example, if your house sells for £200,000, you would pay:

  • 1% = £2000
  • 2% = £4000
  • 3% = £6000
  • 3.5% = £7000

How a sliding scale can help cut fees

A sliding scale fee structure offers a strategic approach to potentially reduce estate agent fees. 

This method adjusts the agent’s commission based on the sale price achieved, incentivising them to secure the highest possible sale price for your property.

It also gives you some peace of mind if you feel that the estate agents have overestimated the value of your property, as you know they will be working hard to achieve the highest sale price possible. 

In a sliding scale arrangement, the percentage of commission decreases as the sale price of the property increases. 

So, for example, an agent might charge 1.5% if the sale price is under £200,000 but reduce the fee to 1.2% for prices between £200,000 and £250,000, while anything above this threshold will grant the agent a 1.5% commission.

This creates a win-win situation: you benefit from a higher sale price while paying a relatively lower fee percentage.

This approach can motivate estate agents to work harder to achieve a higher sale price. Since their commission is directly tied to the sale price, they have a vested interest in securing the best possible deal. In areas with high demand and competition, a sliding scale can encourage agents to use their skills and resources to maximise the property’s value.

Why compare estate agent fees?

When choosing an estate agent, it’s about both the cost and the quality. A lower fee doesn’t always guarantee that your property will be sold. And if it does, you may not be able to get the most value possible. 

The overall goal is to maximise your sale price. An agent who charges more but can secure the full asking price or close to it can be more beneficial than one who charges less but underperforms in the market.

Remember, you’re paying for the estate agent’s experience and ability to sell. That is what will matter in the long run.

Estate agent hidden costs

While estate agents are legally required to disclose what their fees include, not all estate agents operate with the same level of transparency, here are some important costs to look out for:

Cancellation/ Withdrawal Fees

Some agents may include a charge if you decide not to sell. While you may have used their services, the overall decision is yours to make, and you shouldn’t be penalised. Additionally, if you decide against working with the estate agent due to poor performance, you don’t want to be locked in any longer. 

Inclusive Services

Confirm what the quoted fee includes. Standard services usually cover advertising costs, like placements on property websites and ‘For Sale’ boards. If an agent is charging extra for the basics, then it’s not a good deal. The fee should comprehensively cover these basics without additional upfront charges.

VAT

Ensure that the fee quotes include VAT. In the UK, VAT is a significant addition (currently 20%), and not all agents are upfront about including this in their initial quotes. For example, a £5000 fee may not seem like a lot until you’re billed an extra £1000. Transparency about VAT is a sign of a reputable and straightforward agent.

Additional Charges

Some agents might have charges for services like professional photography, staging consultations, or enhanced listings on property portals. Clarify these points beforehand to avoid surprises later in the process.

Save on your Energy Performance Certificates

Some estate agents may offer an energy performance certificate. While they only cost between 

£60 and £120, every little helps. An EPC is a legal requirement, and you need to have one if you’re looking to sell. Some estate agents may offer this as part of their package, 

How to negotiate estate agent fees

When negotiating with estate agents, remember they need your business, not the other way around. At least, that’s how it should be. So, when approaching estate agents, make it clear you’re shopping around and doing your research, so you’re interested in what they can offer. 

Don’t forget to inquire about different fee structures, like a fixed fee or a sliding scale commission. Remember, the average is between 1% and 3.5%, so aim to get as close to 1% as possible. 1.2% plus VAT is a good fee to aim towards. 

Contract terms and estate agent fees

The contract you sign with an estate agent should outline the fees and the terms of your agreement. Here’s what to look out for:

Fee structure

The contract should clearly state the fee structure – whether it’s a flat fee, a percentage of the sale price, or a sliding scale based on the sale price. 

Inclusivity of services

Verify which services are included in the fee. This can range from marketing and viewings to negotiation and sale progression. 

Tie-in period

The tie-in period is the duration for which you are bound to the agent. A shorter tie-in period offers more flexibility, allowing you to change agents without incurring penalties if you’re dissatisfied with their service. Be wary of long tie-in periods, as they can limit your options.

Sole agency vs. Multi-agency

The contract should specify if it’s a sole agency agreement or if you are permitted to list with multiple agents. A sole agency is typically cheaper, but a multi-agency can give your property broader exposure.

Cancellation rights and penalties

Look for terms related to cancellation. Some contracts have a notice period for cancellation or charge penalties if you withdraw your property from the market. 

Payment terms

Pay attention to when the fees are due – whether it’s upon completion of the sale, at the exchange of contracts, or at a different stage. 

Sole agency vs multi-agency fees

When dealing with estate agents, you may come across the terms sole agency and multi-agency fees. Here’s an overview:

Sole Agency

 This is when you appoint a single estate agent to handle the marketing and sale of your property. The typical commission charged by a sole agent ranges from around 1% to 2% of the final sale price. The advantage of a sole agency is a lower fee, as the agent has the exclusive right to sell your property.

Joint Agency

A joint agency agreement involves two estate agents working together to market your home. In this arrangement, the commission fee is usually upwards of 2% of the sale price, with the fee being split between the two agents. 

Multi-Agency

Under a multi-agency contract, you have the option to engage multiple estate agents to market your property simultaneously. Although this increases competition and potentially broadens exposure, it comes with a higher fee, as only the agent who successfully finds a buyer gets paid. 

Online estate agents vs high street

In today’s day and age, most services are readily available online, and estate agency services are one of those. Typically, online estate agents are cheaper, more accessible, and provide greater coverage. In contrast, high street agents are usually tapped into the local market, so they have local insights along with experience and a network that is hard to compete with. 

No sale, no fee estate agents

Some estate agents may make an offer of no sale, no fee. However, most people use the services of an estate agent to sell, so this type of offer isn’t always suitable. However, it may serve as an incentive to an estate agent to get your property sold and avoid any flat-fee costs. However, with the amount of competition out there, you should be able to negotiate a commission-only based deal with most estate agents. 

No fee, estate agents?

With all this talk of fees, commissions and payments, are there any estate agents who can get your property sold at no cost? Well, you’ll be surprised because there is. Here at sold.co.uk, we are no-fee agents. We provide our customers with a fully managed way to sell a house for free. Get in touch to find out more. 

FAQ

Who pays estate agent fees?

In the UK, the seller of the property is responsible for paying the estate agent fees. These fees are agreed upon in advance and outlined in the contract signed between the seller and the estate agent. The buyer does not bear this cost.

When do I pay the estate agent?

Estate agent fees are usually paid upon the completion of the sale of the property. It’s also common for the fee to be deducted from the sale proceeds at the point of completion. This means that the fee is usually settled before the proceeds are transferred to you.

Do solicitors pay estate agent fees?

No, solicitors do not pay estate agent fees. However, they can facilitate the payment process. Upon completion of the sale, the solicitor handling your transaction will arrange for the estate agent’s fee to be paid out of the sale proceeds before transferring the balance to you. 

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