The housing market has collapsed, yet estate agents are hiking commission charges, says Angela Pertsuni in The Daily Telegraph. Agents say they now have to work harder to sell a home. But that's no consolation for owners facing a big drop in their sale price.
So how can you cut the cost?
When property was booming, haggling over commission was the best bet. Unfortunately, most agents are now far less keen to negotiate, says Pertsuni. Sellers are paying as much as 2.5% at some chains, and are unlikely to be able to negotiate deals of less than 1.5%. But it's still worth asking.
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A more drastic route is to ditch the agent and sell your house privately. You will need to market the house, arrange a Home Information Pack (HIP), organise viewings and negotiate the sale price.
If you have the time and inclination, you can save a lot of money the average agent's fee is around £4,000 but it does involve a lot of work. It "isn't for everyone, particularly those who lack the time or confidence to arrange and conduct viewings and negotiate with potential buyers", says James Tallack of Which? in The Guardian.
If you're still keen, the first task is arranging your HIP. You can put one together yourself, but Neil Faulkner of Lovemoney.com reckons the small savings involved mean it's not worth it.
A better bet is to look online for the cheapest HIP provider. Then you need to value your home. Most estate agents will do valuations for free, so tidy up, weed the garden and invite them round.
Check you're getting realistic valuations by tapping your postcode into Houseprices.co.uk to see what similar homes in your area have sold for.
Next, start marketing your house online. Websites such as TheLittleHouseCompany.co.uk and PrivateHouseMove.co.uk accept listings from private vendors, with the cheapest package being free.
Or place an advertisement on Gumtree.com. You then have to put aside time to arrange viewings, and then the paperwork once you have a buyer. At this point you still need a solicitor. But again, shop around to cut the legal costs.
If this sounds like too much work, an easier way to cut costs is to opt for an online-only estate agent. The commission fees are usually far cheaper than high-street agents as some of the work is left to you, such as handling the viewings. However, they will organise the marketing and negotiations and sale process.
Halfapercent.com charge a commission of just 0.5% of the sale price. There is a marketing fee of £199 for properties within the M25, or £249 outside the M25. Or Hatched.co.uk offers various packages that you can build yourself, depending on how you want your property to be marketed. The cheapest is 0.5% commission and no upfront fee for a simple advert on the site.
Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance.
Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.
Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.
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