Michael Hardy Blog, News & Updates

Why you shouldn't choose the estate agent that offers the lowest fees

18 May, 2018

When shopping around for an estate agent to entrust with the sale of your home, it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest of the bunch. After all, as long as an estate agent can sell your property, does it really matter which one you choose?

The short answer is absolutely. For many of us, our homes are the biggest assets we will ever trade, so it makes sense to appoint an agency who can get you the best return on your investment. The most effective estate agents tend to charge higher fees, which helps to ensure the highest-quality service. In fact, picking the least expensive estate agent can actually end up losing you money if they don’t have the experience and skill set to negotiate the best offer on your property.

What do estate agent’s fees pay for?

To understand the differences between higher and lower estate agent’s fees, you need to know what those fees actually pay for. Most estate agents charge a percentage of the final agreed amount in return for the marketing and management of a property sale. This figure is usually contractually agreed when an estate agent is signed up to represent a sale, and as the fee won’t be paid until the house is sold, it ensures that both the seller and the estate agent have a stake in getting the highest possible price.

The fee is designed to cover the costs the estate agency will accrue during the process of selling the property. In our case, it pays for everything from professional photos, floorplans, 360 degree virtual tours of your home, arranging and accompanying the viewings, to negotiating with potential buyers and working hard behind the scenes to make sure the sale makes it safely through to completion. Estate agents, just like the fees they charge, can vary considerably – let’s take a look at what slightly higher charges can get you. 

An established brand

The longer an estate agency has been helping people buy and sell houses in a particular area, the more recognised and reputable their brand should become. Local standing, brand longevity and years of knowhow can all go a long way towards getting you the deal on your home that you’re after. Many buyers will be far more inclined to make an offer on a house that’s being marketed by a well-known and trusted estate agent, as they know they can rely on their part in the sales process.

Here at Michael Hardy, we have been one of the most well-regarded estate agencies in the Wokingham and Crowthorne areas since 1985, as our numerous customer reviews attest. We bring this experience to bear on every sale we manage, giving our sellers confidence in our abilities to achieve the right deal for them and see it through until the keys change hands. 

Strong local knowledge and accurate valuations

Only an estate agent with a good understanding of the local area and the local housing market will be able to provide a valuation that reflects the true value of your home. Of course you want the best deal possible, but setting an unrealistic asking price will only put off potential buyers, so it’s important to have an agent on your side who can find the balance between what’s desirable and what’s achievable. Looking at the latest properties an agent has sold and the prices agreed, can give an indication of the kind of homes they are currently working with and their ability to negotiate the regional market.

It’s not all about what is happening locally though; an estate agent should also take national economic movements into account too. Experience is vital when it comes to being able to anticipate the factors that affect the national property market, such as interest rates and employment levels. 

Effective negotiation

There should be more to passing on an offer from a prospective buyer to a seller than simply letting them know the sum. Many factors come into play when finding the right buyer for a property, such as the length of any chain, a buyer’s estate agent and needless to say, their capability to make good on their offer.

We spend time learning as much about a buyer’s viability as possible before letting our sellers know the offer, so that they have all the facts before making a decision. Then, when it’s time to negotiate the sale, we’re fully aware of the situation and how to get the best outcome we can for you.  

Support throughout the sales process

While an estate agent should do all they can to keep a sale progressing, selling any property can be a lengthy process. It’s therefore likely that you will have a good deal of contact with your estate agent as the sale develops, so it makes sense to choose someone that you feel comfortable with and supported by. Of course, you may not always interact with the same person from your agency every time, but you should feel the same sense of commitment and customer care from each one.

As well as prolonged, selling a house can be stressful. There’s nothing worse than feeling left in the dark during what can be an anxious time, which is why we have a team member at both of our office locations devoted to keeping our sellers updated on the progress of their sales.  

What about online estate agents?

In the past few years, many online-only estate agents have become established in the market, often offering low, flat-rate fees for their services. They may be inexpensive, but what you save in fees you can end up losing out on in terms of value for money.

Many online agents operate nationally or over a wide geographic area and value properties based solely on online data, so you won’t get the experienced local knowledge so crucial to an accurate valuation of your home. You will need to arrange and conduct viewings for potential buyers yourself, or be prepared to pay extra for an agent to show people around your home for you. Depending on the agent, they may or may not vet the suitability of potential buyers particularly closely, and you may be on your own with sales negotiation too, never mind the sales progression.

The number of sales falling through before completion has increased over the years and is now over 30%. This is where an experienced high street estate agent can make all the difference. At Michael Hardy ALL our sales progression is conducted in-house, in our offices, by our own sales teams. Our understanding and knowledge of our sellers, our buyers and the process means that even in the trickiest of sales we can often find a solution.

If keeping fees down is your main priority and you don’t mind the legwork, an online agent may be a cost-effective option, but make sure you understand the upfront charges. Many online agents take their flat-rate fee straight away, which means that if they fail to sell your house, you’ll be out of pocket. Even deferred payment plans often require you to pay after 10 or 12 months, whether or not your house has been sold.

A good estate agent should be more than worth their fee

Ultimately, the peace of mind, support and market expertise and experience an estate agent should bring to a house sale can make their services invaluable. At Michael Hardy, we pride ourselves on the professionalism, care and capability we deliver for our sellers, which we believe is why many of our clients come back to us time and time again. If you’re interested in selling your home, give us a call today to find out how we can help.