How to ensure you're paying the right fee to sell your home

How to ensure you're paying the right fee to sell your home

By Esther Shaw

Estate agent fees are a necessary part of the property selling process, but here's how to ensure you're getting value for money.

When it comes to selling your home, the fees you pay to an estate agent will vary from one agent to the next.

Agents usually charge a percentage fee of between 0.75% and 3.5% of the agreed selling price for your home, with the fee often closely linked to the kind of contract you have opted for. 

With sole agency, you have just one agent acting for you for a certain period and they receive all the commission once the sale has completed. Fees for sole agents are usually between 1% and 2.5%.

If your home doesn't sell in the agreed period, you are free to use one or more other estate agents or re-list with your original agent.

With a multi-agency arrangement, you can instruct as many agents as you like. They will all market your property at the same time (reaching more potential buyers) and you pay commission to the agent who finds the right buyer and sells your property.

With this arrangement, the fee may well be closer to 3%. Read more at: What does sole agency mean?

Are estate agent fees negotiable?

Estate agents will provide a fee based on a number of factors, such as how quickly similar properties are selling in the local area, the number of similar properties on the market, and their chosen marketing approach for your property.

Most agents are prepared to be flexible and have a bit of room for manoeuvre, so it's worth asking for the rationale behind the fee percentage you've been given.

If an estate agent is not willing to reduce their rate, listen to their reasoning, compare with other quotes in the area and make your decision on who to instruct.

What to know when considering a fee

  • If you have opted for sole agency, you should try to get a fee that is as close to 1%+VAT as you can.
  • If you are selling a higher-value property based on the local average, an agent may be prepared to accept a lower fee (because their return will be higher).
  • If your estate agent is trying to build its customer base in your area, they may be more willing to negotiate.
  • You may find that smaller, independent agents are more open to negotiate fees than large nationwide agency chains. This is because larger chains often follow internal policies on commission levels. 

How to ensure you're not overpaying

  • Discuss fees at the end of the appointment where the agent is valuing your property. This gives the agent the chance to properly review your home and decide on the most appropriate percentage fee.
  • Ask the agent for their fee rationale. If you have alternative quotes from other local agencies, feel free to mention these as a comparison.
  • Compare agents using Zoopla’s AgentFinder tool. You can always return to agent(s) who offered you higher fees and see if they will match any lower ones you've found.
  • Bear in mind that if you can demonstrate your home will be an easy sale, an estate agent may lower their fees as a result. 

Consider incentives

As part of your negotiating you could, for example, offer to include a percentage bonus if the agent manages to sell the property above a certain price threshold. 

Alternatively, you could offer an incentive if the estate agent sells your home before a certain date. This can be a useful approach if you’re hoping for a quick sale.

Check the contract before signing

Whatever you do, don’t sign on the dotted line until you’ve scoured the small print. 

Check on costs such as the ‘For Sale’ board, fees for 360-degree photos and fees for floorplans. All these marketing costs should be included in the percentage fee. 

Be sure to review and amend the estate agent contract and ask questions about anything that is unclear. 

If in doubt, seek independent advice. You could get advice from a solicitor, or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

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