Anyone who has sold a house knows that a hefty part of the profit ends up in the hands of the estate agents. Is it money well spent, or are you left questioning whether their part in the sale was worth it?
While viewing flats recently I found that you may be stuck with an estate agent who can’t tell you who the garden belongs to, or who tries to argue that a full-size door in the floor is an interesting feature.
I couldn’t help thinking that someone is paying thousands for this service.
Which does beg the question – are estate agents worth it? It’s a subject that came up in a previous Conversation, when commenter C Duffy asked, ‘With all of the information on properties and valuations available on the internet I wonder really what value estate agents are adding – except arranging viewings?’
How valuations and fees fluctuate
Recent Which? research found that fees varied from 0.75% to 2.5% – and even for the same property fees could differ by thousands. If an estate agent does a brilliant job and sells your property for more then it could be worth those extra thousands, but you don’t have any guarantee of that.
We also found a degree of confusion about what properties were worth to begin with. Valuations are an art not a science so there’s nothing wrong with some variation.
In some areas we found that the valuation of a property varied very little, whereas in others there was a fairly big disparity. One property we looked at was valued at anywhere from £500,000 to £650,000. On others, the highest and lowest valuations differed by almost a fifth.
Should you go it alone?
So are some estate agents overvaluing properties? When I started a Conversation in February asking this, many people responded with a clear ‘yes’.
‘Asking prices are way too high, which is falsely keeping sellers’ expectations at too high a level,’ said John Ward – while Chris had some advice to offer others. ‘I suggest you use a smaller independent agent rather than a big chain,’ he said. ‘Smaller agents need a quicker turnover so will value more realistically.’
You may even decide you’re better off going it alone and selling your house yourself. While some people do a brilliant job of this, it can be slow and it’s not easy in a tough housing market. So for many of us, estate agents are probably going to continue to be necessary.
So, if the tables were turned and you could put a valuation on estate agents, what would you give them? Would you be interested in trying to sell your property yourself – or do you think estate agents are worth their fees?