/ Home & Energy

Your view: are estate agent fees fair?

Animation of an estate agent board

Our estate agents debate was the big talking point this week, with comments from both house buyers and sellers, as well as estate agents themselves. Here’s a round up of what went down.

Anise thinks qualifications should be required:

‘What makes me laugh the most is that estate agents need no formal qualification in this country! In North America, they have to actually be qualified to sell homes and it shows in the level of quality and service you get.’

Chris, who runs an estate agent, agrees that qualifications are important:

‘At my firm, and many other professional firms, I insist that all of my team work towards their qualifications and, they are not allowed to value or advise customers until I am happy they meet a good standard of competence, skills and knowledge.’

Estate agent qualifications

There was a lot of talk of estate agent fees, with John Ward saying:

‘When I think of the care and expertise that the solicitor or conveyancer has to exercise compared with the efforts of many estate agents it is staggering that the agent might end up with four or five times the payment received by the legal representative.’

Malcolm R, who gets our Comment of the Week, doesn’t think fees should be linked to the value of the house:

‘They could offer packages based on what you want them to do – for example, extent of advertising, brochure type, whether you want accompanied viewings, whether they are part of a group that can promote more widely, advice on how to make your house more appealing – in other words for how much work you want them to do on your behalf.’

Nigel also doesn’t think fees should be commission based:

‘I run my own estate agency and I started it as I felt that a lot of practices in the industry needed shaking up. The commission system is one [practice] as it’s expensive, but also because it allows agents to charge as much as they think they can get away with – which is why we opted for fixed fees which are straightforward and upfront.’

What’s your experience of estate agents? Have you got any good examples to share with us?


Estate agents fees are strange. If they sell a million pound house they may do a bit more than if they sell a £100,000 house. They could charge for the extra separately and charge then a flat fee for selling the house. But no they always want a percentage, like 1 or 2 percent of the selling price. Why????????? It really is not that much different to sell a house for a different price. On top of that they will always tell you there has been a lot of interest in the house you choose to look at which invariably is a lie part of the time but you do not know when that time is so it gets you edgy. I cannot see why the solicitor on here has to complain as solicitors do have a habit of always overcharging everybody in whatever kind of situation. (I mean £200 an hour is a bargain as far as they are concerned)

I remember Mrs Thatcher promising to overhaul the housing market saying that she’d create one stop shops where you can buy and sell properties over-the-counter. Well she thoroughly overhauled (wrecked) the railways, power generation, Royal Mail, the Post Office, British Telecom, the coal mines, the docks and the car manufacturing industry. What did she do for housing? She sold off all the council houses and made the industry richer.

With websites like RightMove and Zoopla, selling houses is easy without need for Estate Agents. Unfortunately, you still need a bunch of solicitors (most who flopped at their profession) who charge enormous fees, pay tax (stamp duty) to the Exchequer and fees for Energy certificates and surveys.

The simplicity of a one-stop shop is still unlikely before the next millennium. It’s ridiculous and designed to keep the fat cats purring.

I hadn’t realised there was any way of getting a property onto one of the major property websites without using an estate agent; they seem to have complete control over this gateway to the internet. Indeed, I assumed that ultimately these sites were owned by estate agents under some guise or other. If homeowners could post property they wished to sell straight onto one of these extremely popular sites, albeit for a charge, estate agents would become obsolete and redundant at a stroke [in our dreams!] and I don’t think they’re going to let that happen somehow.

I don’t think it is likely that estate agents will disappear. I would miss their special language, such as “The property has excellent transport links” instead of “there’s a motorway or railway next to it”.

My favourite is “deceptively spacious”. I’m not sure it means what they think though!

emma says:
2 March 2014

There is no reason why it should not go that way but of course somebody would have to run these sites so that would have to be somebody paid by the taxpayer. A centralised site of all properties for sale would be the best as you then do not have to click on all the different estate agents (hoping you have not missed one). There are sites that seem to group them all, like prime location but the estate agent has to agree to go on it so you still do not know if you have seen all houses in the area that are for sale.

howIwish says:
1 March 2014

The so called duties of a managed letter, eg. keeping a close watch on the monthly rental payments, and advising when Renters disappear, etc. get in arrears , monthly checks on the property etc. ….all failed to be carried out…………say no more !

Cathy Perkins says:
18 August 2014

I am selling a flat through an estate agents, found a buyer, accepted their offer on Wednesday this week.

My estate agent tells me that the people “have to” see their mortgage adviser before they will start the sale process. This cannot be done until next Thursday so will add a week to the proceedings. Solicitors will not be notified etc. From what I can gather my buyers are young first timers and are perhaps gullible. I can’t help thinking that they could be applying for a mortgage today at a high street branch, or online, instead of sitting unable to do anything until next Thursday. How is this helpful to them, or me??

When I questioned why this had to be done (especially as the buyers apparently have a mortgage agreement in principle – although the estate agents says this is from February so is no longer valid) they told me it is because of the “new regulations” and got very defensive, used a lot of jargon and said they now have to “qualify” all of their buyers.

As reported by Estate Agency Today, this practice seems to be rife and in my opinion something needs to be done about it.

Far too many people make money out of house buying. From builders, removal firms, solicitors and estate agents. It is time the government took a hard look at just how much buying, selling and moving charges are made

I own my own estate agency (one office) I do not earn a fortune, do not own a big house and do not own villa’s abroad. I simply want to make a living, pay the people that I employ and give a great and most importantly a personal service to the general public. The people that own/run the new breed of internet companies are usually millionaires using other people’s money to run loss making businesses, has the world gone mad?