Careful preparation can help save money when buying a house from an estate agents
With a bit of careful preparation you can make the experience a lot less stressful and expensive and sell your house fast and for a higher price as well.
Here’s how to get the best from your estate agent.
Get the Correct price
Estate agents can charge thousands of pounds for selling your house and on more expensive properties fees can go through the roof.
The good news is that increasing competition from low-cost online agents is forcing traditional operators to slash their fees.
Russell Quirk, founder of hybrid online and high-street agent eMoov.co.uk, says the average estate agent fee has fallen from 1.6 per cent of the final sale price plus VAT, to around 1.3 per cent, with VAT now included.
This has cut the charge for selling a £250,000 property from an average of £4,800 to £3,250.
“However, that is still an eye-watering sum due to the outdated practice of charging based on a property’s value,” Quirk says.
Around 5 per cent of vendors save thousands by selling their homes through an online or hybrid agent such as eMoov, PurpleBricks.com, Hatched.co.uk, HouseSimple.co.uk, and Tepilo.com, which charge between £300 and £1,000, regardless of property size.
However, the cheaper ones expect you to handle much of the work yourself, including viewings and negotiations.
Quirk says the best agents allow you to manage your sale online while also offering professional advice.
Increasing competition from low-cost online agents is forcing traditional operators to cut prices
Most people would rather get a higher price for their property than pay the lowest fee
Paul Smith, chief executive of the haart estate agency chain , warns that saving money on estate agency fees is a false economy if you fail to get the best price for your house: “Most people would rather get a higher price for their property than pay the lowest fee.”
Local high-street agents combine the personal touch with expert knowledge of the area, Smith adds.
The perfect fit
Do your research. Seek information from friends and online through sites such as EstateAgent4Me.
Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance, suggests popping into a number of estate agents specialising in selling houses similar to your own and having a general chat with the staff. “Are they professional? Do they seem competent? Are you impressed?”
Seven out of 10 vendors never actually read their contract
Shun Poor Marketing
You can tell a lot about an agent by the amount of effort they put into marketing your home, Higgins says: “Check the quality of their photographs and marketing copy.
“Your property must feature on major property portals RightMove.co.uk, Zoopla.co.uk and PrimeLocation. com, where nine out of 10 buyers now begin their search.”
Poor marketing almost guarantees your home will languish on the market for much longer than planned, she adds.
The average estate agent fee has fallen from 1.6 per cent of the final sale price
Read your contract
Incredibly, seven out of 10 vendors never actually read the contract, which leaves them at the mercy of the small print, Higgins says.
Never commit to paying the agent simply for finding a willing and able purchaser, rather than completing the sale: “Otherwise you may have to pay if, say, illness or redundancy forces you to back out.”
Set a time limit on the contract, so you can switch if unhappy with the quality of service: “The normal period is 12 weeks, but can be as little as four.”
Reject high valuations
Some agents give deliberately optimistic valuations to make you think they can secure a higher price, then try and talk you down later.
Higgins says you should not be fooled by falsely high valuations: “Do your own research to get an idea which valuation is most accurate.”