Estate agent fees are the bugbear of thousands of home sellers every year. But can you get away without paying them? The answer is a little more complicated than you might think…
Estate agent fees
Despite the general distrust of estate agents, they perform a valuable service – they market and sell properties and they help people find the right property at the right price. Yet all of this costs money, and estate agents need paying. Typically, the buyer pays a commission or a set fee. This fee pays for office space, time, fuel and marketing, as well as the inevitable subscriptions to Rightmove, Zoopla and PrimeLocation.
So how would you sell a property without incurring estate agent fees?
Perhaps the most common way would be to use social media and advertise locally. The majority of people won’t move more than a few miles unless there is something really pushing them out of the area. Therefore, if you advertise among your friends and family, you may find someone who is interested in buying your property.
That said, when most people are looking for property, they look on Rightmove or Zoopla. Unfortunately, there isn’t a practical way to get on to these sites without an estate agent, as they do not accept private listings.
Enter online agents
Purely online agents typically list your house, and you pay anywhere between £99 and £200 for that listing. However, they don’t do very much marketing on top of that, and they often rely on you taking your own photos. While you may be an adept photographer, housing photography is a somewhat specialized art form, and the estate agents won’t often provide very much useful advice.
You also won’t get your home valued by an actual valuer, and nor will you be put in touch with potential buyers. You will usually have to handle everything yourself, including large parts of the negotiation process.
As a result, you might find that you need one that offers a lot more services. This is where hybrid estate agents come in.
Hybrid and fixed fee estate agents
These estate agents generally charge lower fees as they are more centralized and don’t have to pay for office space. However, many offer full-service packages and deliver quality service and may even offer accompanied viewings. Marketing and photography are often included as standard – or at least they should be.
You will pay a little more compared to a purely online estate agent, but the extra money is typically worth it. Marketing helps your house to be seen, and a good photography package with a reliable floor plan gives people an idea of what they can expect before they even enter the house.
You also get an agent who deals with your property and can, therefore, field any offers and act as an intermediary between you and your potential buyers. In addition, you should get a 24/7 portal that allows you to check bids.
Ultimately, while it is hard to sell a house without an estate agent, it is possible. Yet it’s often much more convenient to go with a fixed-fee hybrid estate agent with local knowledge rather than paying thousands for a conventional high street estate agent for a very similar service.