Created 19th May 2021

Matt Hoy, director of estate agency, Bradley Hall Chartered Surveyors and Estate Agents.

In a world where budget and online estate agencies are opening every day, and where competition on the high street can create opportunity for sellers to negotiate on fees, there is potentially a deal to be had when listing your house for sale – but does this saving on costs actually represent best value when considering the final sale price for your property?

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Commission is a word that online based estate agencies are working hard to make taboo – even investing in big budget TV campaigns to do so. At the time of writing, with demand outstripping supply in the post-lockdown property market, high street agency fee levels are also under pressure from estate agents competing with one another for new business.

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The age-old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ might seem like a convenient defence from those who are still charging more - but is selling your house really something you want to do on the cheap? The ‘Savings Calculator’ on the website for online agents Purplebricks suggests a saving of £2,766 could be possible when selling a home at the value of the UK average house price. At face value, this figure could be an attractive proposition for many, but is this a figure quickly eclipsed by a lower sale price if the job isn’t done correctly.

Telephone enquiries from new buyers still outweigh email enquiries by nearly 2:1, and that first point of contact is vital to converting prospective applicants into viewers. Having initial enquiries fielded by a call centre hundreds of miles away can be detrimental to viewer numbers which ultimately has a knock-on effect with the time taken to achieve a sale for your home and the overall value achieved. The Advisory offers independent expert advice for house sellers and reports on average that a local high street agent generates 48% more viewings and 64% more offers than their online counterparts, resulting in a 5% average uplift in sale price - £12,575 on the average UK house price, immediately contextualising the £2,766 ‘saving’ promised by the Purplebricks website.

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There are many instances where a prudent customer would do well to seek out low cost, high volume businesses, but perhaps typically not in the service industry and certainly not when selling an asset of such considerable price. It is essential to take the right steps as making the wrong choice could cost you thousands of pounds. The reality is that estate agents are expert individuals that are working for you, getting paid only after a successful transaction and at a rate which is directly proportional to the value they helped you achieve on your home, not some kind of enemy or otherwise necessary evil as portrayed by some of the online competition.

The commission which is demonised by these low cost, high volume agencies, is a fantastic incentive to achieve the best result possible for the seller. Choosing the high street agent that will half the fee quotes offered by its competition might seem like an easy decision when you are first considering selling, but with more homes than ever selling for in-excess of the original asking prices, will you end up wishing the person handling the process was twice as motivated to see you get the best result?

Of course the 5% uplift in agreed sales price reported by TheAdvisory will be largely due to high street agencies typically employing local individuals with a better grasp on the locality they are working in and the first-hand knowledge of the properties they are dealing with.

Having a concentrated and targeted geographical area ensures a much deeper knowledge which can be relied upon to provide the best service.

It almost goes without saying but is still worth noting that the advertised savings become much larger as you advance up the price brackets into higher priced homes, but so do the potential losses. Naturally, the higher something is priced the smaller the potential purchaser audience becomes. One missed opportunity could cost a seller a considerable amount time and money and that is before considering how this is extrapolated across connected purchases.

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So what do you get when you ‘get what you pay for’? A team of local individuals in a centralized location on the busiest high streets with prime window advertising, online coverage with maximized conversion rates from those who do respond to your advertisements, professional photography, energy performance certification, floorplans, high quality brochures, accompanied viewings as standard, a mortgage team on hand to qualify applicants, chartered valuation and building surveyors in the building to help manage the outcome of survey results, not having to ask or wonder what might cost more but knowing that the people you have employed are working with you toward a common goal, rather than acting merely as an introductory vehicle for anyone who picks up the phone.

Competition is good, and serves to focus minds and drive progression in the industry. Just make sure you consider properly what represents best value when faced with alleged savings and consider the importance of the human mechanism involved with transactions of such emotional and monetary significance.

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