Buying and selling a home ranks at the top of life’s most stressful moments. Preparing your home for sale, settling on an asking price, and completing all necessary paperwork are just a few of the hurdles homeowners face.
That’s why many people hire estate agents to help with the sale process. Not only are estate agents experienced in marketing and showing your property, but they have access to exclusive listing websites and other local agents.
Not sure you want to pay estate agent fees? Considering selling your home on your own?
Before you do, keep reading for a complete breakdown of estate agent fees and services including pros and cons.
1. Online estate agent duties
You know estate agents help buy and sell homes, but what does an online agent do, and is it different from a traditional high street agent?
Yes and no.
Online estate agents help you sell your property the same way a high-street agent does but with a less hands-on approach. Because they offer less support than traditional agents, the fees are generally lower.
There are two basic types of online agents — strictly online and hybrid.
When you hire an online-only estate agent, be prepared to do a lot of the legwork yourself from marketing your property to managing inquiries and even performing viewings. These agents generally set up your online listing and leave the rest to you.
Hybrid agents offer a mix of online and high street services. After listing your home on property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove, they will help manage inquiries and may even perform viewings for an added cost.
Other services include property valuations, additional marketing efforts, dealing with your conveyancer, and communicating with the buyer until the sale is complete.
Remember, most online agents offer very basic services for a lower cost than what a local agent could charge. If you want additional services like the ones mentioned above, you’ll need to pay for them.
Online Estate Agent Fees Explained
Speaking of payment, let’s delve a little deeper into what online estate agent fees you can expect to pay.
Most high street agents charge a percentage of the sale of your house. Online estate agents generally charge a flat fee for specific services rendered.
If your property is priced high, you might be better off using an online estate agent. You’ll save money by only paying for the services you need.
A downside to using an online estate agent is that most require payment upfront. That means if your home doesn’t sell, you’re still out the estate agent fees.
High street agents are sometimes more motivated to sell since their commission and income rely on the sale of your home. Fixed fees can lower the agent’s incentive and motivation.
Some online estate agents offer a “pay later” option but with added fees and interest. It may also require you to sign an agreement with a credit company or use the agent’s partner company. Be sure to read all the fine print before agreeing to deferred payments.
Here’s a breakdown of estate agent fees for some of the UK’s leading online companies.
|Estate Agent||Fee||Average time to sell (weeks)||Average asking price|
Starting at the top, Purplebricks is the UK’s most well-known online estate agent company.
Their basic package costs £999 or £1499 to let in London and other surrounding areas. They do offer deferred payments for up to 10 months.
This basic package includes:
- Professional photos (photos for social media are also included)
- Listings on Rightmove and Zoopla
- Sale board
- Local expert/Account manager
- Managed viewings
- Negotiated offers
For the following fees, you can get additional support and services:
- Featured listings on Rightmove and Zoopla (£125)
- Viewings performed by an agent (£300 and £399 in London)
- EPC (£84)
With plenty of packages and options, Doorsteps.co.uk is next on our list of online estate agents to consider.
Doorsteps.co.uk offers three affordable packages priced at £99, £199, and £599. All payments are required upfront with no deferred payments option.
The companies basic service package is priced at £99 and includes:
- Online valuation and in-person verification visit
- 24/7 account manager
- Arranged viewings
- Negotiated offers
- Listings on Zoopla and Rightmove
The two, more expensive packages offer additional services including:
- Professional photographs (included with the £199 package)
- Full property description (included with the £199 package)
- 2D floorplan (included with the £199 package)
- Sale board (£60)
- Premium listing on Rightmove or Zoopla (£120)
- Featured listing on Rightmove (£400)
- Hosted viewings (£400)
- Virtual tours (£162)
Keep the sale process simple with House Simple, an online estate agent that charges no upfront fees and no commission.
Sound too good to be true? Let us explain.
House Simple is one of the UK’s online estate agents that offers a no sale, no fee option. That means that if your house doesn’t sell, you don’t have to pay. No sale, no fee options are popular among high-street agents but are also being offered by many online agents.
For six months, you’ll get the following services for free:
- Listings on Rightmove and Zoopla
- Negotiating offers
- In-person valuation
If you want a few upgrades, here’s what it’ll cost you:
- Premium listings on Zoopla and Rightmove (£299)
- Scottish home report (rates vary)
- Accompanied viewings (£315 for unlimited/£35 each and an additional £50 key holding fee)
- EPC (£90)
There are a few catches to these services, though.
Home Simple currently only sells properties in England, excluding the rest of the UK. In addition, you have to choose from virtual or hybrid services.
The biggest difference being that the virtual service offers a digital property valuation rather than an in-person one.
Update as of 21/11/2020: House Simple has since changed their name to Strike
Yopa has two main packages to choose from — core and premium. Within each package, there’s a wide range of services and pricing based on your location.
Here’s a quick breakdown.
- £899 upfront (£1399 in London and some surrounding areas)
- £88.90 per month (£139.90 per month in London and some surrounding areas)
- £1,999 no sale, no fee (£3,499 in London and some surrounding areas)
- £1,189 upfront (£1,799 in London and some surrounding areas)
- £118.90 per month (£179.90 in London and some surrounding areas)
- £2,299 no sale, no fee (£3,999 in London and some surrounding areas)
All packages include the following services:
- Property valuation by a local expert
- Sale board
- Listings on Rightmove and Zoopla
- Personal online dashboard
- Negotiated offerings
- Organized viewings
Extras from Yopa include:
- Premium listings on Zoopla (£99)
- Premium listings on Rightmove (£125)
- Featured listings on Rightmove (£149)
- Accompanied viewings (£300)
- EPC (£85)
What is a Property Valuation and How Does it Work?
Valuations determine how much your home is worth compared to other similar homes on the market. Valuations are done by experienced agents with in-depth knowledge of the current market.
Online agents will sometimes perform valuations using online data and photographs. Hybrid agents will send a local expert to perform an in-person valuation of the property.
High street agents have more knowledge about the local area, community, and neighbourhoods which is why, sometimes, their valuations are more accurate. You can also get a few valuations if you don’t agree with the original assessment.
You can also take all of the valuations and come up with your own medium price.
Why Overvaluing Your Home Is a Problem
All homeowners want to get top dollar for their property and some may even think it’s worth more than it is. The problem with pricing your home too high is that you’ll miss out on your target market and inevitably be forced to lower the price.
Price reductions, though necessary sometimes, can negatively impact your home sale. Some buyers will wonder why you had to lower the price and start asking questions like, “Is there something wrong with the property?”.
They might even try to low-ball you, thinking you’re desperate to sell. That’s why pricing your home right the first time around is so important.
Some homeowners worry that online estate agents are more likely to overvalue their home, creating financial and emotional heartache. The truth is, this can happen with both online and local agents.
That’s why it’s important to get several valuations and even perform some of your own research before settling on a listing price.
Online Estate Agent Marketing
It’s no big surprise that the main way online agents market your property is, well, online! Through property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla, your agent will upload professional photos and a detailed description of your home.
From there, either you or the hybrid agent will manage the listing, schedule and manage viewings, and accept or refuse offers. You can also purchase a sale board for outside your home at an additional cost.
When a buyer is really interested in your home, they’ll want to see it in person. This is known as a viewing and it’s an important part of the sale process.
Strictly online agents generally don’t conduct viewings. They leave this up to the homeowner, which is a risky game.
Some buyers aren’t comfortable viewing a property with the homeowner present. Your reaction to their comments or questions or even your presence may be unnerving and cost you the sale.
Ideally, you’ll let a professional agent conduct all viewings. Some hybrid agents offer this service as part of their fees while others charge extra.
Vetting potential buyers is another part of the process, and one some online agents will help with. Checking the buyer’s finances, personal information, and if they’re part of a chain are all important things to know.
Communication is Key
Since you may never meet your online estate agent, or meet them only briefly, communication is an important part of the process.
Most contact is done via phone or email. Some online agents offer 24/7 chat service on their websites.
If you’re using a hybrid agent and are assigned a local expert, you’ll meet this person during the valuation. They may also come out to take photographs and create a floor plan if this is part of your service plan.
Are Online Estate Agents a Popular Choice?
As of this writing, high-street agents are still a valued option among many homeowners. But in light of the pandemic, as well as an increase in available services, online estate agents are growing in popularity.
A few factors determine whether or not an online agent is the best option for you. For starters, the price of your home means a lot.
Higher-priced homes mean a larger commission and percentage if you use a high-street agent. When using an online agent, you only pay for what you need.
Location plays a part too since local high-street agents have more access to local buyers and more influence within the community. Online estate agents are far removed from your everyday life, meaning they lack first-hand knowledge of the area.
Online agents don’t offer the same hands-on marketing tactics as high-street ones. Local agents advertise your property in their office windows, brochures, and local magazines and newspapers.
While paper marketing isn’t as effective as it once was, it’s still another avenue for getting your property in front of potential buyers. If this is important to you then a local agent might be best.
How to Protect Yourself When Using an Online Estate Agent
Out of sight, out of mind. Are you worried that using an online estate agent is too risky?
Some people are unsettled by the lack of physical contact and communication when using an online agent. It feels like just a voice on the other line and not a real agent invested in your home sale.
To put your mind at ease, it’s important to understand your rights when working with an online estate agent.
Rest assured that the same rules that govern high-street agents also apply to online agents. Online and hybrid agents are required to register with a government-approved redress scheme. The agent must tell you which scheme they’re a part of, which is the first call you’ll make if a problem arises.
Pros and Cons of Using an Online Estate Agent
To summarize, here are the pros and cons of working with an online estate agent vs a high-street agent so you can make an informed, confident decision about your future.
For starters, you’ll pay lower fees when using an online agent. That’s because you’re paying for individual services rather than a percentage of the home sale.
You may only need an online listing and plan to conduct viewings and negotiate on your own. Save money by picking and choosing what services to utilize.
The flexibility of choosing individual services is another reason people opt for online estate agents. They feel less pressured and more in control of the sale process.
Because online estate agents work strictly online, their call centers and chat support are usually available 24/7. If you have a question, chances are, someone is available to help. Online agents are constantly monitoring your listing and can respond to inquiries outside of normal business hours.
Another bonus of using online agents is that you can mix it up. If one agent isn’t working for you, you can try another. Most online agents don’t require a contract period, which means you’re not locked into anything.
As with anything, there are some downsides to working with online estate agents.
The main con is that you’ll need to do a lot of the legwork yourself. If you’re inexperienced, you may overlook important steps in the sale process.
You may also miss out on leads and inquiries if you’re not diligent. Performing your own viewings is another downside if you can’t handle criticism about your property.
Communicating with buyers and solicitors may also fall on you. This can be stressful and take a certain level of experience that most homeowners don’t have.
Payment for most online estate agents is required upfront. Even if the agent fails to sell your house, you’ll be out of your original investment. This can also reduce the agent’s incentive to sell your property or get you the best price since they’re getting paid the same amount either way.
Choosing the Best Estate Agent for Your Needs
Deciding between a high-street or online estate agent is a personal choice and differs from one property to another.
Using an online agent is generally cheaper, but may come with more stress and work on your part. High-street agents have more connections within the local community but take a bigger payout based on the price of your home.
Most hybrid agents offer the best of both worlds.
Be sure to do your research and weigh all the pros and cons before deciding if online estate agent fees are worth it.
2. How much are estate agent fees?
When looking for the best letting agent or estate agent, fees aren’t the end all and be all, but they are probably the biggest factor!
Now that you understand the role an estate agent plays and their importance in the buying and selling process, let’s talk money. And no, we don’t mean the sale price of your home. We’re talking about how much estate agent fees are and if it’s worth it for you to hire one.
A quick search online will show you a wrath of estate & letting agent marketing, focused on bringing in customers based on low fees. So let’s dig a bit deeper on the prices on offer.
How Much Do Agents Charge?
Estate agent fees range from 1% to 3.5% depending on the location and value of your property. You must also consider VAT fees, or value-added tax, which can tack on another 20%. VAT taxes, also known as consumption taxes, are added onto any product that has a value from the production stage to the sale.
The percentage an property agent charges isn’t a direct reflection of their level of service but is usually based on the type of contract you enter into. Be sure to read the entire contract before signing. If you don’t understand any part of it (including specific charges) ask your estate agent to explain. A few things to look for when examining the contract are:
- Am I locked in with just one estate agent? What are the penalty fees for changing agents?
- What happens if I find my own buyer without the help of the agent?
- If I’m unhappy with the agent’s performance, how quickly can I terminate the contract?
As with letting agent fees, estate agent fees are negotiable, so don’t be hesitant to haggle or ask for a better deal. Just avoid insulting an agent with years of experience or a proven track record of fast sales. You can also use an estate agent fee calculator to give you a better idea of how much a quality agent will cost.
Additional Services Estate Agents May Charge Fees For
Estate agents do more than just market and sell properties. For additional fees, estate agents offer a wide range of services, including but not limited to:
When you hire an estate agent, you get access to more than just their personal knowledge and experience. They often have relationships with other professionals in the field, like mortgage lenders.
Not only can estate agents offer their own expertise on obtaining a mortgage and current rates, but they may refer you to a specific lender who can help.
Some agents charge a fee for this service while others get a kick-back from the lender. Research the mortgage lender your agent suggests to ensure they’re qualified and reputable.
Surveying and Conveyancing
Every property needs a survey prior to selling. The purpose of a survey is to verify the property lines and boundaries.
A surveyor will provide a legal description and documentation of the results. Some estate agents offer this service or know someone who does.
Once you’ve obtained a buyer and the sale is almost complete, you’ll need a conveyancer to legally transfer your property to the new owners.
Most estate agents work closely with one conveyancer, saving you the time and hassle of finding your own. Similar to a mortgage lender, most agents receive compensation from the conveyancer for the referral.
Property Improvements and Upgrades
Does your home need a facelift? Is it in need of major renovations or a few repairs or upgrades?
In the interest of getting a higher asking price, some estate agents will help with improvements and upgrades. This doesn’t mean the agent will pay for these changes, but instead, lend advice and recommendations for improving your chances of getting your asking price.
Many estate agents have good relationships with contractors in different industries from landscaping and plumbing to electrical and even general contractors. For an additional fee, you can not only get professional advice on money-making upgrades but also access to qualified professionals to get the job done right.
Renting or Letting Property
If you’re ready to move but not ready to sell your home just yet, a qualified estate agent can help you rent or let out your property. With thousands of renters in the UK, letting out property is a great investment opportunity.
Earn passive income to use towards your next dream home. Estate agents can help find and reference tenants, collect rent, and even perform maintenance and repairs.
Of course, all of these services come at a cost. Fully-managed services will cost you more than individual, fix-fees but mean less aggravation and stress.
Sit down and do the math to make sure letting your property makes more financial sense than selling.
Are Online Estate Agents Fees Lower?
The biggest difference between online property agent fees and high street agents is that through an online service you’ll pay fixed fees for specific services, whereas high-street agents charge a percentage. Online agents also deliver basic services and usually deal with high street agents anyway. Most online agents work through websites and call centers.
There are two common types of online agents: online-only agents and hybrid agents. Here’s the difference.
Online-only agents require you to perform most of the work yourself. You’re tasked with taking photos, creating the advertisement, handling inquiries, conducting viewings, and even negotiating final offers.
Hybrid agents do most of the work online but also hire local property experts to conduct viewings, field inquiries, and negotiate offers.
Because online agents charge a fixed fee rather than a percentage of the sale, sellers with high-value homes will pay less using an online service. However, you may not get the extensive, hands-on service offered by high-street agents. This is why many sellers opt for a hybrid service that offers the best of both worlds.
What Add-On Options Are Available for My Listing?
If you feel that a basic advertisement or listing isn’t enough, you can add certain features to make it more appealing. Premium listings offer perks like listings toward the top of the results page, better quality images, and reach a wider audience. While you’ll have to pay for these bonus features, it’s worth it for motivated sellers who are eager to make a deal.
Other add-on options include virtual tours and open houses.
3. Tips for negotiating with Estate Agents
If you’ve decided that using an agent and paying estate agent fees is right for you, you could probably use a little advice on how to deal with agents.
While you both share the same goal — to sell your house — you don’t want to overpay estate agent fees and the agent wants to get paid. Here are a few tips for dealing with agents so you don’t get take advantage of.
How to Get a Better Estate Agent Fee Rate
We already mentioned the biggest difference between high-street estate agents and online agents is that online rates are generally fixed whereas high-street agent fees are based on the home’s value, location, and other factors. If you want the best rate for agent services, it’s best to opt for an online or hybrid agent.
Hybrid agents give you the best of both worlds. Not only do they work for a fixed fee (which is often easier to negotiate) but they perform the tasks of both online professionals and high-street agents. This includes fielding inquiries, scheduling viewings, and negotiating pricing.
Although high-street agents will handle the sale from start to finish with minimal effort on your part, you’ll pay for this luxury. And sometimes, the percentage is simply too much for homeowners to swallow.
This is especially true if you need to income from your home sale to make your next real estate purchase.
There are a few ways to negotiate the best rate including:
- Don’t negotiate until after your meeting with the agent. At this point, they’re more invested in the project (and are seeing dollar signs), which means they’ll be more willing to negotiate.
- Don’t simply ask for a lower rate. Be prepared to haggle and play hardball.
- Don’t insult the agent or they might walk away altogether!
- A 1% fee is reasonable. Act shocked if they propose something much higher. Lowball them if need be with your end-game focused on hitting that 1% mark.
- Mention that you’re considering other agents with lower rates (even if you’re not).
- Be honest with yourself about the value of your home and the selling price. Negotiating when your home is already priced too high won’t end well.
At the end of the day, you want an estate agent you’re comfortable with and who is invested in selling your home. This could mean paying more than you want for their services. Decide how much you’re willing to pay before heading into negotiations and determine how valuable your time is.
Using Multiple Agents
One thing most people don’t realize is that you can use multiple ages at once and shop around. You aren’t limited to just one agent unless that stipulation is listed in the agent’s specific contract. There are pros and cons to this approach.
The benefit of using multiple agents is that you’ll have access to a larger pool of potential buyers. The more agents involved, the more knowledge, expertise, and resources available to you. On the other hand, if an agent knows you’re working with others, they won’t feel as committed or loyal to you. They may also offer contradicting advice which could ultimately confuse you.
Regardless of how many agents you use, only the one who sells the property will get the commission. This could lead to some healthy competition among agents, making them more aggressive about landing the sale. You can also use one or two agents and actively advertise your house yourself. If you find the buyer, no agent gets any commission, which could save you a hefty amount of money.
Shop Around for Estate Agent Fees That Make the Most Sense for You
Are you torn between selling your home yourself or hiring an estate agent? Do estate agent fees seem too steep for you? At the end of the day, it’s all based on how much time you have to dedicate to the sale of your home.
Most people would prefer to hire an agent to do all the leg work. You’re also paying for their knowledge, connections, and industry experience. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle on a high commission rate or a fixed fee.
Consider a hybrid agent or online services if you think a high-street agent’s fees are too much. Or, take things to the negotiating table to settle at a reasonable price that works for you both.
Should You Choose the Cheapest Estate Agent?
Are you trying to sell your home and save money at the same time? If so, you may be considering hiring the cheapest estate agent you can find.
People say you get what you pay for. The same holds true when hiring an estate agent, which is why you shouldn’t settle for the agent with the lowest price tag.
The truth is, the most qualified estate agents will charge slightly more for their expertise and services. Do some research before making a decision.
Which agents are selling properties and fastest and for the highest price? Sometimes, paying a higher fee upfront means getting a higher offer. Look at it as more of an investment than an expense.
Aside from price, you also need to consider the agent’s personality, marketing tactics, and approach to your house sale. After all, you’ll be dealing with them on a regular basis and need to see eye to eye on most issues.
It’s also important to note that you may end up dealing with different agents at different times in the sale process. The expert who performs your home valuation may not be the same one who conducts viewings.
If estate agent fees are your biggest concern and you’re worried about paying a high commission on your property, you may be better off hiring an online estate agent. These agents charge a flat fee for individual services rather than a percentage of the sale.
4. Things to Check on Estate Agent Contracts
The only way to guarantee you get what you pay for and don’t overpay estate agent fees is to read the contract carefully. Be sure to ask all your questions before signing on the dotted line.
Here are a few specific things to look out for:
- Can I use more than one agent?
- What happens if I find my own buyer?
- How quickly can I end the contract if I’m not satisfied?
Estate Agent Glossary
This estate agent glossary will help you better understand the language agents use in their contracts.
Here are some of the most common terms you’ll come across and what they mean.
If you’re considering an online letting agent, you’ve probably already heard this term. Fixed fees are prices tied to specific services like premium listings, viewings, and sale boards.
The agent’s contract should list each service with a fixed fee attached to it. Fixed fees are usually required upfront and paid regardless of if your home sells or not.
Open-ended agreements protect the agent. If your property sells to someone they originally showed it to, they can collect the commission even if months or years have passed.
This is the period of time that passes between you informing your estate agent that you want to terminate the contract and it actually happening.
Most agents require two weeks’ notice for termination. You must also consider the tie-in period when giving notice (more on this in a minute).
This describes the duration of the contract once you sign it, or how long you’re “tied” into it. If you cancel or terminate the contract prior to the end date, you may face additional fees.
Most contracts are at least six weeks long. Avoid committing to anything longer than eight weeks to give yourself flexibility.
This period also includes the two-week notice period.
Terms of Payment
Most estate agents charge interest. Find an agency that offers a several-day grace period for transferring money before charging interest.
Some estate agent companies have several agents working on your property sale at once, This agreement ensures that only one agent (the one who sells your property) receives the commission.
Multi-agency agreements generally cost more since you have several agents working on your behalf.
Different from multi-agency agreements, sole-agency contracts mean that only one agent is allowed to sell your property during the contract term.
The benefit of this agreement is that if you find a buyer yourself, you don’t have to pay the estate agent fees which typically don’t exceed 2%.
Sole Selling Agreement
Similar to a sole-agency agreement, only one agent has the right to sell your home. The selling estate agent can claim a fee of 1-2%, even if you find your own buyer.
Ready, Able, and Willing Purchaser
This is one important phrase to look out for in any estate agent contract. This clause requires you to pay the agent fees even if you withdraw from the sale or your situation changes.
Know Your Rights
You have certain rights when dealing with an estate agent. Knowing these rights will protect you from being taken advantage of.
For starters, all contracts must be written in clear terms. There are certain duties that all estate agents have to perform including:
- Reveal all financial or personal interests they have in all offers made on your property
- Respond to all offers promptly in writing
- Keep detailed records of your sale progression for six years
- Provide information on which government-approved scheme they’re a member of (The Property Redress Scheme, Centre of Effective Dispute Resolution, or The Property Ombudsman).
If you have any complaints about your agent or their practices, confront them first. If the agent is unresponsive after eight weeks or you’re not satisfied with their answer, you can (and should) take your grievances to the appropriate scheme.
In case of a grievance, it’s important you keep detailed records of all exchanges with your estate agent.