Using an Estate agent to sell my home

One of the most common ways of putting your property on the market is to use an estate agent. Ask friends for personal recommendations or search our real estate companies database.

Most estate agents operate on a commission basis, charging a percentage of the sale price therefore earning nothing if they fail to sell the property. But if successful, they make quite a lot on each sale since they charge anything between one and three per cent of the price for their efforts.

A few agents charge a flat fee whether they sell the property or not. If they're successful, that's good news for the seller, but if there's no sale it could be a waste of money. The agents, however, can't lose.

Most reputable agents are members of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), and all reputable agents have signed up to the voluntary Estate Agents Ombudsman scheme, which regulates members and levies fines or orders compensation to aggrieved consumers.

You can find an agent in your local area by searching estate agent listings at Zoopla

There are various options when dealing with an estate agent:
  • Sole Agency agreement giving one agent the exclusive right to sell your property for an agreed period. Although this is the cheapest option, one drawback is that, if in the end, you sell your property through a private sale, you still have to pay the agent's commission.
  • Joint Sole Agency agreement where two agents have sole selling rights, but split the commission whichever sells the property. This is more expensive than a sole agency agreement.
  • Multiple Agency Agreement where several agents have your details. Whichever agent sells your property gets the commission on the sale. The most expensive option.

The cost of using an Estate agent

As a homeowner you will typycally pay a 2% commission (+VAT). Sometimes as high as 3% so, let's see how much this will cost you:

Your house value Estate Agent
commission (2%)
+VAT at 17,5% Total payment to
estate agent
$100,000 $2,000 $350 $2,350
$200,000 $4,000 $700 $4,700
$500,000 $10,000 $1,750 $11,750

Is this the real cost?
No, this is only part of the picture. To understand the real cost to you, we need to look at how mucho your property has increased in value and what the agent's commission represents of that figure.

Price you paid
for your house
House value
Money you
have made
2% commission
Cost to you
in real terms
$170,000 $200,000 $30,000 $4,700 $16%

This example shows that the estate agent is actually taking 16% of the money you have earned from your property's growth in value.

Is that the total cost?
Not necessarily. Some estate agents will also charge you extra for advertising your home in the local press and for additional marketing.
Always read the contract's small print!!

What about using more than one agent?
There is nothing to stop to appointing more than one agency (called "multi-agency").
In this case, you will pay a higher commission than a sole-agency agreement.

Tips for choosing an Estate agent

Choosing the right estate agent to sell your property is very important:
  • Check the agent belongs to an organisation. Memberships gives you both comfort and protection.
  • If the agent you previously used did a good job, consider using that agent person or agency again.
  • A good estate agent will answer the telephone and e-mails quickly.
  • If an agent has a website to advertise your property, find out how quickly details are posted - it should be within 24 hours.
  • Check how long the agent has been operating in the area.
  • Ask if the agent brings a list of buyers for a property like yours.
  • Find out what the agency does if it cannot find a buyer.
  • Carefully check what kind of contract you sign with the agent. There are different types of agency agreements.
  • The cheapest is not always the best. Find an agent that gives the service you need and want.
  • Agree with the agent the top 10 sales points of your property.
  • Although no qualifications are needed to be an estate agent, some do have training. Ask if your agent has had any.

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