One of the biggest decisions to make when deciding to sell your home is whether or not to use an estate agent. While selling your home yourself will save you on estate agent fees, it does come with its own set of responsibilities.
The real question is, are estate agent fees worth it? It depends on what’s more important to you — time or money?
Before you make your decision it’s important to understand exactly what estate agent fees cover and how much hiring one will cost you in the long run. Here we’ll explore all of that information and more so you can choose between hiring professional help or going it alone.
Estate agent fees explained
Not all agents charge the same fees for the same services. In many cases, your agent will collect a commission based on a percentage of the sale price. Others charge a flat fee, regardless of what your home sells for.
Flat fee prices vary greatly based on what services the agent offers as well as their experience and reputation. Agents with years of experience and a record of success will cost you much more than a new agent right out of the gate.
Most estate agent fees are negotiable, but if you’re paying based on the value of your home, expect to part with 1% to 4% of the sale price. It’s more difficult to estimate an agent’s flat fee since many factors come into play.
The most important thing to remember when hiring an estate agent who offers a flat fee is to read the fine print and find out exactly what services are included in the price. All too often, unprofessional agents tack on added, hidden fees.
While marketing your property and conducting viewings may be part of their fee, providing a sale board and taking photographs might come at an additional cost.
Another benefit of using an estate agent is that they keep the ball rolling. Once an offer comes in, they’ll follow with the buyer’s agent, draft the necessary paperwork, assist with inspections, and ensure that the entire process runs smoothly.
Agents have the experience and knowledge that most homeowners don’t.
Additional estate agent fees
So, what fees are considered standard for estate agents and which are extra? Let’s take a closer look.
Regardless of how you go about selling your home, you’ll need to list and market it. This is most commonly done online.
The difference is that when using an estate agent, they have access to websites like Rightmove and Zoopla. Here they can manage your listing, answer inquiries, and find prospective buyers.
With millions of users and properties on these portals, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get enough eyes on your listing. That is, unless, you pay for a premium listing.
Estate agents can negotiate a premium listing for your home. These listings have additional photographs, longer descriptions, and highlighted text to help grab viewers’ attention.
These premium listings come at a cost, but many homeowners agree that a small investment now is well worth getting an offer early on.
Simply put, quality photographs help sell houses. Even the best smartphones can’t capture the essence of your home.
An experienced estate agent can take high-quality photos that transform the entire look of your home. Some agents take these pictures themselves while others hire professional photographers skilled at home staging and photography.
The perfect camera angle and lighting can make all the difference. Camera tricks make your home look larger, cleaner, and more appealing. Photographers are also skilled at removing clutter and creating an inviting atmosphere.
For an additional fee, your agent can take breathtaking photos that showcase your home in the best possible light (literally)!
While a picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes you need to see it to believe it. Prospective buyers will want to see your home in person. This is done during a viewing.
While some agents will conduct viewings as part of their fees, others charge an additional fee. When you hire an agent to conduct viewings, you’re paying for their experience and expertise.
Estate agents are skilled at property viewings. They know exactly what to say and how to highlight the best features of your home. They also know how to put a positive spin on some of the less-attractive aspects.
Agents have plenty of experience handling negativity, criticisms, and questions from interested buyers. While some homeowners choose to be present during viewings or even conduct them themselves, this isn’t recommended.
It’s best for homeowners to leave this step to the professionals. Having the homeowner there during a viewing can create an uncomfortable situation for both the potential buyers and sellers.
Many sellers are emotionally attached to their homes and will have a difficult time fielding questions or hearing negative comments. They’re also too quick to defend their home and may act too pushy, driving buyers away.
On the flip side, most buyers won’t feel comfortable sharing their honest opinions if the homeowners are present. This creates unnecessary pressure that might cost you the sale.
Many estate agents offer property viewings at an additional cost and most homeowners agree it’s a worthwhile investment.
Keep in mind that not all viewings will result in a sale and that’s okay. Even unsuccessful viewings give agents important insight to use for next time. This might mean making adjustments to the aesthetics of your home or the listing.
Having an agent available for viewings could be the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity.
Most buyers search online for properties, but not all. The traditional sale board is still an effective marketing strategy.
If you want a sale board for the front of your house, an estate agent can provide it at an additional cost. This is a visual reminder to anyone passing by that your home is for sale.
Interested parties can take the information from the board and contact your agent for a viewing or to ask any related questions.
Estate agent marketing skills
Without eyes on your property listing, it won’t sell. This is another reason to elicit the help of a professional.
Estate agents have access to a large pool of potential buyers. They also have the knowledge, experience, and connections that many homeowners simply don’t have.
Marketing on well-known portals like Rightmove and Zoopla is reserved for registered estate agents. Homeowners can’t list their own properties on these sites. If your property isn’t showcased on platforms like these, you’re missing out on dozens of potential leads and sales.
Not only can agents market your property but they’ll also field all inquiries and questions and can schedule viewings. Estate agents also know the ins and outs of the property market including recent laws and guidelines, terminology, and etiquette.
Estate agents don’t just market online, though. They’re also skilled at managing social media listings.
Agents can post updated photos, respond to comments and questions, and stay abreast of any inquiries or leads. There are also specific property groups on social media where agents can help gain optimum exposure.
Networking is a huge part of property sales and experienced agents are all about making connections and levering professional relationships. Find an estate agent with years of marketing experience to get the most out of your listing.
Selling your property without an agent
No one knows your home better than you, right? Some people choose to sell their homes themselves without the help of an estate agent.
While this means you’ll pay fewer estate agent fees, it also means a lot more legwork and a bigger time commitment for you.
Before you decide to cut out the middle man, there are a few things to consider.
Turn to Social Media
If you want a captive audience for your home sale, turn to social media. With billions of users, there’s no better way to get eyes on your property listing.
Although cellphone pictures aren’t the same as professional photos, you can still take some pretty captivating shots and add them to your page. Be sure to add a detailed description that includes the home’s specs, location, upgrades, and any other notable features.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram also let you add videos and stories that show your home in a different light. Not only will your immediate contact list see the listing but also anyone their friends with, instantly multiplying your viewing audience.
Online advertising tools
Social media isn’t the only online advertising tool available to you. Just because you’re not an estate agent doesn’t mean you can’t market your property online.
Websites like Realflyer, Gumtree, and even Trulia and Zillow allow homeowners to post their property listing for a minimal fee. Just remember that most listings expire after a certain period of time.
Another fee you might incur is to the buyer’s estate agent. This could be between 2% and 3% of the sale price.
Consider these fees plus the posting fees when deciding to list and market your own home.
Think like an estate agent
The hardest thing for homeowners selling their own property is to detach themselves emotionally and think like an agent. This means taking an objective approach to the sale of your home.
Be honest about how much your home is worth. That means performing a market valuation of your own.
See what other houses similar to yours have recently sold for. This will give you a good idea of how to reasonably price your property and what it’s truly worth, increasing the likelihood of landing a sale.
View your home physically like an agent also. Clean up any clutter inside and out. Remove personal items from the inside to create a fresh, welcoming look.
Your goal is to help prospective buyers envision themselves living in your home. If you’re unsure about the logistics of the sale, hire a solicitor or lawyer to help with legalities and paperwork.
Estate agent fees: Are they worth it
There’s no right answer to whether or not agent fees are worth it. It really comes down to whether or not you want to pay the fees or try to navigate the property market yourself.
Estate agent fees cover a long list of services from premium listings and photography to viewings and marketing. These fees are either a percentage of the sale price or a flat fee. Remember, you’re paying for the expertise and peace of mind.
If you choose to sell your property on your own, be prepared for a long road ahead but one that might be more lucrative in the end.
Regardless of which path you choose, be sure to budget beforehand and calculate the cost over convenience.