John Trayhorn | johntrayhorn

What does an Estate Agent do and could I do it myself?

Aug 24th 2011 at 3:18 PM

What does an Estate Agent do and could I do it myself?

Most people think that Estate Agents are a necessary evil in the sale of a property, either from a seller’s or buyer’s point of view. Whilst it is true they can ‘mentor’ you and also do a lot of the work that you may not want to do yourself, the whole process is much easier than you might think and most people are more than capable of going down the DIY route.

Most of the jobs involved in the sale of a property are arranged by good Estate Agents but the actual jobs themselves are all carried out by others. Surveys, mortgage arrangement and conveyancing (The legal process of transferring the title to the property) are all performed by other professionals and not the Estate Agent.

The numbers of sellers that are asking : “Does the use of an Estate Agent represent good value for money these days?” is on the increase. It’s no longer a question of ‘What exactly does an Estate Agent do, rather ‘Are they providing a valuable service?’

So what exactly does an Estate Agent do? And more importantly, could I do it myself?

Estate Agents will arrange accompanied viewings of properties during the day by prospective buyers and this can have advantages for buyers wishing to view during the day.

Estate Agents also claim to ‘vet’ buyers to check if they really interested in a purchase to remove any risk to the home owner from bogus buyers looking over the house as a potential for burglary or just simple ‘timewasters’.

Recent TV programmes and reports by consumer groups however have raised doubts about just how meticulously Agents actually do this under the pressure to be seen as arranging multiple viewings. Indeed there have been accusations of totally inappropriate ‘buyers’ being shown properties in which they could have no interest solely to satisfy the seller that they are doing something! How many times have you been looking to buy and got on an Estate Agents mailing list, only to be sent details of properties totally unrelated to your original request?

Agents regularly leave the seller to escort the viewer themselves if the viewing is outside of their working hours. It is not unheard of for a sale to go through without an Agent EVER having accompanied a viewing of the property. It is hard to see any benefit to the seller in this case.

Private Sellers are increasingly finding that personal contact with interested buyers assists them get a better ‘feel’ for how serious the viewer is in purchasing. It is also true that most purchasers these days prefer to view properties in the evenings due to work commitments during the day.

The main purpose of Estate Agents in the past has without a doubt been the capability to advertise the property more efficiently than a private seller can. A recent Office of Fair Trading investigation into what Estate Agents actually did for the money discovered that the advertising of the property in a shop window and putting up a ‘for sale’ sign referring potential purchasers back to their High Street shop were basically the only distinctive functions of Estate Agents.

The Internet has changed all of this by allowing the private seller to advertise their property nationally (a way of displaying their own ‘for sale’ sign).

Another advantage of a private sale (also know as FSBO – For Sale By Owner) is the ability to talk directly to the vendor, giving the buyer the greatest chance of knowing the true state of play. Estate Agents are sometimes accused of distorting the truth about the progress of a sale in order to protect their or the seller’s interests. However, what is sometimes an advantage can also be a disadvantage: having an agent acting as a cushion between you can be useful in certain situations. A prospective seller should weigh up the pros and cons of this.

Although the average house price, until recently has risen by 187% countrywide or 240% in London in the previous 10 years, Agent’s fees have remained a fixed Percentage thus rising far faster than any other price index.

On an average London property, the cost of selling through an agent can vary between 1.5-2.5% PLUS VAT. (Yes the taxman also takes his slice of the pie!)

This makes the average cost of using an agent in London between £5287 and £8812 including VAT and before any other charges and costs.

Is it really worth over one third of Annual National Median earnings (£22,724) to sell a house?

Doing it yourself..

There are many websites on the internet that act as a portal to advertise your property and many charge around £500 to put up a listing. There is one however that does it for free!

This company will sell your property within 12 weeks and not only that, if it isn’t sold in 12 weeks, they will pay you £100 per week until it is sold – List your property for FREE! No commission on sales.

They will offer to pay their buyer‘s moving expenses if they buy it. They’ll pay their:

· Legal expenses (Lawyer/Solicitor)

· Structural Survey

· 50% of their buyer‘s removal costs

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