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Estate agents don’t exactly have the best of reputations. But beyond the flashy cars, the pushy attitudes and the jargon there’s probably one thing that many people find more upsetting about working with an agent than anything else: the cost. Fees and commissions can leave a serious dent in your budget. Most agents charge a percentage of the total sale price, which can be between 0.75% and 3.0%+VAT. On a £300,000 property that could be as much as £9,000 + VAT. However, times are changing and the traditional estate agent now has a lot more competition. So, if you want to move home while reducing the selling fees that you pay what are your options?
It’s sometimes worth looking into the process and costs of working with a traditional agent, if only as a starting point for comparison. Many are now reviewing fee structures to become more competitive and trying to offer additional benefits to make them a more attractive option. Weigh up what you’d get from working with a traditional agent in terms of the cost vs. the support and the reach in terms of buyers. It may appeal or it may be that you – like many other sellers – are looking for something else.
A hybrid estate agent won’t have a physical office but in every other way will function like a traditional agent. Getting rid of this huge overhead means that you should see a significant reduction in the fees – although these are likely to still be percentage based. The new breed of hybrid estate agents tend to be local to specific areas and often have a mobile workforce who hold meetings in shared workspaces and travel to meet clients. So, all that’s different is that you won’t have a high street office to go into and hopefully you’ll pay less. The key to finding a good online estate agent is to look at the range of properties they have and also at the website. The site will be the main online selling tool so if it’s poorly designed or not well populated your chances of the right sale could be reduced.
Is it a good idea? If you want to use a traditional agency but you don’t want to pay the full price then the hybrid agent is a good idea. It won’t save you as much as a fully online agency but you’ll get more support and service.
A number of online agencies have appeared in recent years in response to consumers who don’t want to fork out huge fees. Purple Bricks is probably one of the best known and has made a name for itself in offering a service that is cheaper, more predictable and simple to use. If you sell your home with Purple Bricks it’s a flat fee of anywhere from £849 – £1,999 depending on where you live. A local agent will come and evaluate the property for free and then guide you through the sale process. Everything is organised and managed via an app, which allows for viewing bookings, feedback from potential buyers and instant updates on sales. Although Purple Bricks certainly saves on costs it does leave much of the organisation to the seller – and it’s worth remembering that the fee is payable whether or not the house is sold.
Is it a good idea? Purple Bricks has a lot of positive reviews from sellers who have saved thousands on commission. However, it has been pulled up on the accuracy of the amount of savings it is quoting so make sure you check exactly what the cost will be to you before going ahead. There are plenty of other agencies to choose from. One of the major advantages of working with an online agent is they can get your property listed on sites such as Zoopla and Prime Location, which you can’t do as an individual.
If you’re going to go ahead with a private sale then you’ll need to use a website like houseweb.co.uk or houseladder.co.uk. This puts the entire process of selling firmly into the hands of a seller and there is no commission to pay to anyone. Fees for listing properties start at around £195 but there are various packages available, some more deluxe than others. Selling a home without any agent support is certainly not impossible and thousands of people do it every year. If you’re going down this route then remember:
Is it a good idea? If you’ve got the time to prepare your home, achieve a proper valuation, research what might make it sell and get a good looking listing together then yes.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read about Amanda Gillam
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