Estate agents normally charge you a percentage of the price they sell your home for – between one and two-and-a-half per cent.
Ask them “does that include VAT?” because VAT adds another 20 per cent to the charge. So, for example, if your estate agent is charging you £2,000, VAT adds another £400.
Also ask “does that include everything?” because a few estate agents add extra costs for, for example, finding a quick, guaranteed purchaser – as if that wasn’t their job anyway.
You can go for multiple agents and only pay commission to the one who sells your property.
Or, for lower fees, you can give an agent “sole selling rights”. If you choose the latter, make it for a limited time. You don’t want to get stuck for months with Hopeless and Co.
Online estate agents are much cheaper than conventional high street estate agents. But online agents are a developing market and their names aren’t so familiar. There is a huge variety in price and quality, and they are more likely to add cost extras.
Narrow your estate agents down to a shortlist of about three, and invite them to do a valuation. Have a good idea already what the valuation should be.
Don’t necessarily be swayed by the highest valuation. Some estate agents will pitch high to get you on their books, and then get you to reduce the price a few weeks down the line.
Then again, beware of a valuation that seems too low, or – later on – a pushy agent you failed to weed out trying to persuade you to accept a low offer.
Bear in mind that for the estate agent, that £10,000 higher price means little to them, on a one per cent commission. A good one will still think of their customer. A less scrupulous one will think about quick turnover on lots of homes, rather than a good price on a few.
Remember estate agents are only human. One recent survey in the US showed that on average, estate agents keep their own houses on the market for 10 days longer and sell them for three per cent more, than their clients’ houses. Be watchful.