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Understanding Real Estate Agent Fees

Are you trying to sell your home? Many homeowners struggle with the decision to hire an estate agent or go it alone. Both approaches have their own set of benefits.  While hiring professional help means paying estate agent fees, some homeowners would prefer to pay a small price to avoid big headaches. On the flip […]

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Are you trying to sell your home? Many homeowners struggle with the decision to hire an estate agent or go it alone. Both approaches have their own set of benefits.

 While hiring professional help means paying estate agent fees, some homeowners would prefer to pay a small price to avoid big headaches. On the flip side, selling your own property means less overhead and more take-home when you finally do close the deal.

Here we’ll explore some of the most common estate agent fees, how much you can expect to pay, as well as tactics for finding the right agent or handling the sale on your own.

Common Estate Agent Fees

Not all estate agents charge the same amount or even offer the same services. Some agents take a percentage of the sale, while others charge upfront, fixed fees. Prices vary since you’re paying for the agent’s expertise, connections, and experience.

Like letting agents, estate agents, have a deep understanding of the local market. They also have access to potential buyers and other agents in the business.

While estate agent fees are often negotiable, you can expect to pay between 1% and 4% of the sale of your home. VAT fees (or value-added tax fees) can also impact your home’s value and the agent’s percentage.

Flat estate agent fees are often based on the agent’s experience, reputation, and the services they offer. The more involved the job is, the higher the rates will be.

Be sure to discuss all fees and charges upfront before signing an agreement or contract. Ask what services are specifically included in the flat fee and if there are additional fees for things like premium listings, viewings, and marketing.

Some agents only list your house without hosting open houses, scheduling viewings, contacting other local agents, or taking photographs. Others offer all of these services and more, so you can expect to pay a higher flat fee for agents that go the extra mile to get you the best possible deal.

Estate agents also keep the process moving. This involves following up with leads, checking-in with the potential buyers and their agents, as well as filing all legal paperwork and negotiations.

Additional Estate Agent Fees

While it may sound simple, finding a buyer and finalizing the sale of your home aren’t the only jobs an estate agent is taxed with. Listing your home on popular websites like Zoopla and Rightmove are expected, but what other ways do estate agents help you get the best possible offer for your house?

Many agents offer additional services for an added cost. Here are a few of the most common services that estate agents offer to help simplify the home selling process.

Premium Listings

Websites like Zoopla and Rightmove allow estate agents to post pictures, a short description, and other important information about their properties. Other agents search these pages for properties that fit their clients’ needs. But with millions of listings, what are the chances that an agent will see yours?

Premium listings put your property at the forefront of some of the most popular listing sites, increasing the chances of it being seen and sold. But premium listings come at a cost. The agent has to pay more to the site and therefore, you’ll be charged additional estate agent fees for this upgrade.

Premium listings include things like additional or larger photos, highlighted text, and increased visibility.

Professional Photographs

Speaking of photos on your property listing, some estate agents offer professional photography services at an additional fee. Some homeowners don’t think this is necessary. After all, with so many advancements in technology, most smartphones take some pretty impressive pictures.

The difference is that estate agents and professional photographers are skilled in staging homes and taking pictures using the perfect angles. The right camera angle and lighting can make the rooms in your room look larger, cleaner, and more appealing.

Professional photographs can increase the chances of selling your home and get you the full asking price much sooner.

Property Viewings

Once an interested buyer sees your property in pictures, they’ll likely want to view it in person. While some homeowners perform viewings themselves, this isn’t always the best idea.

For starters, most homeowners are emotionally attached to their property. Showing the home to a potential buyer means hearing criticisms, negative comments, and fielding countless, potentially offensive, questions.

Buyers also prefer to view a house using an estate agent rather than the homeowner. Having the owner present can be unnerving and uncomfortable. It also creates unnecessary pressure.

Many estate agents offer property viewings at an additional cost. This is a worthwhile investment for many homeowners.

The agent can help highlight specific features of the home. They know how to put a positive spin on some of the less-attractive aspects or sore points, as well. They can also answer questions in an unbiased way.

Even if a viewing doesn’t result in the sale, hearing what the interested party had to say about the house gives the agent useful insight for next time. They can now make adjustments to your listing or request some aesthetic changes to the home.

Having an agent available for viewings could be the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity.

Sale Boards

In addition to online listings, you may want a “For Sale” board for outside your property. This is great for foot traffic and increased visibility.

Although many people turn to the Internet for listings, others go by word of mouth. Seeing a sale board outside your home will trigger more inquiries. Passerbys in the market for a home can call the agent’s number for more information and possibly, a viewing. They may also tell their friends and family about your home.

Sale boards may also save you time and aggravation. Someone passing by will immediately get a better idea of the exact location, size of your house, and neighborhood. They may or may not be interested at this point, which saves you from getting your hopes up or chasing dead-end leads.

Estate agents will charge an additional fee for printing and providing a sale board for your property.

For Sale by Owner

Looking to sidestep all the estate agent fees and sell a property on your own? This is a viable option as well, but there are a few things to consider before cutting out the middleman.

Leverage Social Media

With billions of people on social media, this is one of the best advertising outlets for selling your home on your own. You can avoid hefty fees for photography or premium listings by snapping a few photos yourself and creating a simple description before posting the property on your personal social media accounts.

You might be surprised how many people on your friends list inquire about the home for either themselves or someone they know. 

Additional Online Advertising Tools

Facebook and other social media platforms aren’t the only online tools to advertise your property. Utilize other websites like Gumtree, Realflyer, and even big names like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com. For a minimal fee, these websites will list your property for a set period of time.

Some websites require you to pay a percentage of the buyer’s estate agent fees. This is usually between 2-3% of the sale price. When crafting online listings be sure to include information about the local school system, specific driving directions, recent upgrades to the home, and any other special features.

Think Like an Agent

The most important thing to keep in mind when selling your property without an agent is that you need to think like an agent. That means emotionally detaching yourself from the sale. This can be difficult for some homeowners but it’s an important step in the process.

Price your home competitively and reasonably. Find out what other homes in your area have recently sold for.

What type of shape are they in? How many bedrooms do they have?

Take all of these features into consideration when listing your home. This gives you a good idea of what your property is worth and, more importantly, what buyers are willing to pay.

Other ways to think like an agent include cleaning up any clutter (inside and out), staging your home, improving curb appeal, and hiring an attorney. A solicitor or lawyer can help give you guidance and advice on any areas of the home sale you’re unsure of.

Estate Agent Marketing Skills

You can’t sell your property without marketing it, both online and in-person. Estate agents have the experience, knowledge, and connections that most homeowners don’t.

Estate agents have access to property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove where they can manage your property listing and respond to inquiries quickly and efficiently. They can answer buyer questions, schedule viewings, and highlight all the positive features of your home.

Estate agents know the ins and outs of the property market including terminology, laws, and proper etiquette.

In addition to online listings, agents also have experience marketing properties on social media. They can choose the best photos, respond to comments, and update the page regularly. Knowledgeable agents also know what social media groups and pages to join and follow for optimum exposure.

Professional connections and networking are huge parts of selling your home. Experienced agents know exactly who to market your property to and how. In fact, many are affiliated with specific groups and organizations that offer direct access to a pool of prospective buyers.

Are Estate Agent Fees Worth It?

The answer is different for everyone. Hiring an estate agent to help sell your home is a popular choice among many homeowners, especially when you factoring the skills estate agents have in marketing

Although these services come with estate agent fees, many people find the help and expertise well worth the investment. If you choose to hire an agent, be sure to ask what’s included in the price.

Some estate agent fees are a flat rate while others are a percentage of the sale price. Read the fine print to determine what services will cost you extra.

If you decide to sell your home on your own, be prepared for negative feedback on your home and a big investment of both time and money.

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