How to sell your house Estate agent fees

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Estate agent fees vary depending on the contract and usually don't include VAT

The type of estate agent contract you have will affect how much you pay in estate agent fees. Below, we explain the typical fees and the different contract terms so you know what you're paying for.

Estate agents typically charge a percentage of the selling price of your house, but these percentages vary from less than 1% to around 3.5% depending on how many agents are selling your property.

With that in mind, there are three key terms you need to be aware of when it comes to your estate agents fees: 'sole selling', 'sole agency' or 'multiple agency'. 

Fees typically range from 1% to 2% of the selling price for ‘sole agency’ and 'sole selling' (when you give one agent exclusive responsibility for selling your home) or from 2% to 3.5% to sell on a multiple-agency basis (when more than one agent is appointed to sell your home) - scroll down to see more details on these terms.

Agents will often quote their fees without VAT, so make sure you check whether you'll need to pay an extra 20% on top.

When choosing your estate agent, make sure you check what services they will include for your fee. Some agents offer a scaled-down service that is charged at a fixed price, which is payable upfront whether your property sells or not. This service usually includes producing property details, promoting your property online and sometimes (but not always) in the local newspaper.

An agent will not want to lose your business, so you can often negotiate for a better deal. You should get quotes from several different agents before deciding which one to use and then haggle for the best price.

It's also worth thinking about trying an online estate agents as they cost less - typically between £400 and £1,000. Visit our guide to online estate agents to explore the pros and cons of using this service

Know your rights: I think my estate agent's fees are too high - what you can do if you think you are being overcharged

Estate agents' insider tips: choosing your agent

Which? asked a range of estate agents to share their insider tips to help you sell your house more quickly and easily. In this short video, they explain how to choose the best agent for your needs and why you shouldn't necessarily choose the agent with the lowest fees. 

 

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Video transcript

My top tip for sellers is not to choose an agent on price alone. It can affect the marketing of that property because first impressions count. Whatever we carry out evaluation, we will always print off comparable evidence. So, get three or four good prices from three or four good reputable agents. I would always go for a trusted local agent. Try and find one that has an office locally to you. The second most important point is to not choose an agent that negotiates down on their fee too easily. Because, when it comes to the crunch and they're negotiating on your property, and we can be talking about tens of thousand or hundreds of thousands of pounds, you want an agent on your team that's going to negotiate hard for you.

Estate agent contracts

It's important to read estate agent contracts thoroughly to make sure your agent will be provide the level of service you expect, and what arrangements there are for if you're unhappy with your agent. You should be very clear about the arrangement you're entering into, so the bottom line should is if you don't understand the contract, don't sign it.

Particular questions may want to ask when looking at the contract:

  • What happens if you find a buyer for your house yourself, for example a work colleague, friend or neighbour?
  • If you're not happy with the agent's service, how long does the contract tie you in for? Ideally aim for a six to 12-week break clause.
  • What happens if you're unhappy with the agent's service and want to complain?

Here are some of the typical contract terms you'll come across, what they mean and how you can make sure you get the most for your money.

Sole selling

This means that the estate agent is the only agent with the right to sell your home during the term of the contract. The estate agent is entitled to payment, even if you find a buyer yourself. We recommend you don't sign a contract with sole selling rights.

Sole agency

Sole agency is the most common estate agent contract. This is the same as sole selling with the exception that, if you find a buyer yourself, you don’t have to pay the estate agent fees.

Multi agency

This means that several estate agents act for you, but only the agent that sells your property is entitled to receive a commission. As you can see from the percentages above, the commission rate is usually higher for a multi-agency contract.

Signing a contract

If you're not sure about the contract or don't understand it, don't sign

Open-ended agreements

Some contracts are open-ended, which means an agent can still claim commission if it introduced a buyer even if the offer is made months (or potentially years) after the estate agent stopped marketing your property.

Tie-in period

This the period of time that you are tied into contract for; if you change agents during this time you will still be liable for paying their fees. The shortest contract you will typically be able to get is six weeks but try to avoid anything over eight weeks. Remember to factor in the notice period, too (often around two weeks).

Terms of payment

Choose an agency that allows a few days for the money to transfer before charging interest. Never hand the authority to pay the estate agent over to anyone else, because you won’t have the power to withhold payment if you have a complaint.

Ready, willing and able purchaser

If this clause is in your contract, don’t sign it. It means you’ll still have to pay the agent for finding a buyer even if your situation changes and you have to withdraw from the sale.

Fixed fee

It's a good idea to be aware of fixed fees, often expressed as a percentage of the asking price (not the selling price). A fixed fee means the agent will charge you that fee no matter what your house actually sells for, which is bad value if your house sells for less than the asking price, but could be good if the fee is set at a lower percentage of  highly priced property.

Your rights with estate agents

Legally, your estate agents contract must use clear terms. Your estate agent must pass on all offers promptly in writing, reveal any financial interest they have in offers made on your property, keep records for six years and be a member of one of the two Office of Fair Trading-approved redress schemes - the Property Ombudsman or Ombudsman Services: Property.

If you suspect that an agent has acted in breach of these regulations, contact your local authority trading standards department which has a duty to investigate and take enforcement action.

It’s a good idea to keep details records of your dealings with your estate agent in case problems arise.

Know your rights: I don't want to use my estate agent anymore - how to end your contract with an estate agent 

Need mortgage advice?

We believe you should seek independent mortgage advice before taking out a mortgage. The Which? Group offers an independent mortgage advice service, Which? Mortgage Advisers, that looks at every mortgage from every available lender. You can also find an independent mortgage adviser through Unbiased.co.uk.

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