I’m not the sort of journalist who goes ‘cut and paste’ (honestly) but I thought I would reproduce in part a press release from one of several new estate agency ‘price comparison’ websites, set up to allow you to go-compare fees and services.
This particular survey was of 250 agents, each covering two London postcodes. The point I’m making is not that estate agents charge too much (or indeed too little) but that in a world of increased transparency over costs, estate agents have so far just about escaped the sort of scrutiny that, say, has applied to car dealers, airline ticket sellers or independent financial advisers.
Maybe that won’t last for much longer. Part of the press release is below - if you don’t want to read it all, the headline is: 'Sellers of an average-priced London home sold for £343,000 could pay agents’ fees ranging from £4,000 to £10,000.'
- “Estate agent fees often lack transparency and there is great variation in the levels of fees that estate agencies across London charge, according to a new survey by property agent comparison website ipostcode.com."
- "Some of the highest average commissions are charged in the SE1 (Bermondsey), NW11 (Golders Green) and W6 (Hammersmith) postcodes, whereas agents in E8 (Dalston), N8 (Crouch End) and SE28 (Thamesmead) offer some of the lowest commission rates."
- “The majority of estate agencies surveyed quoted 1.5% commission, but 15% of agents quoted the lowest fee of 1%. The highest commission level quoted was 2.5%. There were several postcode areas including Islington (N1) and Clerkenwell (EC1) where commission levels spanned the range from 1% - 2.5%, which means that on a property priced at the London average of £342,749 (according to latest Land Registry figures), the seller could be paying anything from £4,113 to £10,282 including VAT to sell the same home."
- “Estate agents’ reputation for being cagey about their fees was borne out, with around 20% of agents refusing to disclose their fees over the phone or via email. Only one agency, Winkworth, which has 43 London offices, disclosed their fees on their website."
- “One in four agents said that their fees are negotiable based on either a realistic valuation of the property or depending on the price range of the property. Many agents stressed that an agency should not be chosen simply on their commission rates but rather on level of service, track record and marketing."
- “The survey also found that estate agent fees in London at an average of 1.7% are more or less in line with the national average of 1.8% - contrary to the perception that London estate agent fees are the highest in the country. Sellers are paying on average almost £7,000 in estate agency fees including VAT (based on the average London property price of £342,749).”
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