There are 364,000,000 results in Google for the search term “cheap estate agent fees” and a bucket of paid-for adverts to try and capture your business. But is a cheap estate agent good? And will cheap give you the price you deserve? Ultimately the fee the client pays is a red herring! However, you should search for recommendations, value for money and experience, as the most crucial figure when you sell your property is the net amount you achieve from the sale. This is estate agent terminology often referred to as the “walk away figure”.
To be fair online estate agents have done much to shake up the property market and agency fees, but not all is good. The pitch that they will save you money on your costs with a cheap deal is, in many cases, misleading.
For example, if you are looking for a selling experience that saves you time and stress, a “cheap” package will be wrong. You will have to take the time out of your schedule or work to be at each viewing, and aside from the time, the property owner, in general, is not best placed to “sell” the property – our blog discusses why here. Additionally, experienced estate agents know how to negotiate the best price for properties, which means a more significant “walk away figure”.
The “cheapest” agent is not the one charging the lowest fee but is (and always will be) the one that leaves clients with the most money in their pockets. Unfortunately, many buyers are not given the whole picture and, on the promise of a cheap fee, can instruct less effective agents, which could cost them big money.
The difference between a cheap deal agent and an experienced estate agent is the service received and the fee. For the cheap deal, you will be offered one price but a standard package; however, with a full-service estate agent, it tends to be a percentage of the final sale achieved. This is because you are buying a professional service which includes liaising with conveyancers and buyers right through to completion, vetting of buyers, advice on home staging, professional photographs and videos, market valuation, arranging property viewings, marketing online, offline, and social media, negotiation of offers and even support and advice with areas such as recommended mortgage brokers.
However tempting the basic package’s cost looks, these ‘extras’ likely won’t be included, and if you want them, you’ll need to pay more. These services are standard for full-service estate agents, and fees are a subject of constant discussion within the industry. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. So, despite what a cheaper fee may sell you, you could end up with a far smaller sale than you would achieve by going to a professional.
In summary, the benefits of using an experienced full-service estate agent are numerous and include the following:
- Provide local knowledge of your area and its property market inside out.
- Vet viewers and conducting viewings. Most people are uncomfortable showing strangers around their homes, and most buyers won’t want to ask the questions they are thinking, which means they can walk away from the sale.
- Drum up interest from their network of potential buyers.
- Take professional photographs of your home.
- Produce an enticing written description of your property.
- Market your property through their networks, website, social media, and the portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, including for sale signs and office property boards.
- Negotiate offers to give you the maximum sale and walk away figure. You are paying for the result received. If you pay a cheap flat deal upfront, you will have to pay that company even if it doesn’t sell your house. Agreeing on a percentage-based fee with your estate agent incentivises them to sell your property for more.
The choice is ultimately down to the customer, and, in some cases, if you know precisely what your property will get, are happy to do the hard work and are confident that your property will sell quickly, a cheaper fixed-rate deal may work for you. However, in most cases, people are stretched for time and need more tailored support and advice, in which case you are always better off using a full-service estate agent.
Find out the most recommended agents nearby, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions, including how many properties they’ve sold in your area over the past months. Personal recommendations are always valuable, and by following these up with a face-to-face meeting, you will soon understand what opportunities are available. Chemistry is essential – people sell to people, and if you find it easy to engage with your agent, you can feel confident potential buyers will also engage with them.
Sometimes, selling your house can feel as big as the property itself, and there’s a lot to consider, not just the fee for selling it!