UK estate agent fees vary considerably, new research shows

Estate agent fees in the UK often lack transparency and there is great variation in the levels of fees that estate agencies across London charge, according to a new survey.

The varied picture of estate agent fees across London shows it is not necessarily the most expensive postcodes that have the highest charges, according to the research by property agent comparison website ipostcode.

Some of the highest average commissions are charged in the SE1 (Bermondsey), NW11 (Golders Green) and W6 (Hammersmith) postcodes, where as 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% to 2.5%, which means that on a property priced at the London average of £342,749 the seller could be paying anything from £4,113 to £10,282 including VAT to sell the same home.

Estate agents’ reputation for being guarded 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.

‘Agents can be too guarded about how much they charge and many people don’t really know what they should be paying or that some fees are negotiable. We want to lift the lid on estate agency fees and make the process more competitive and transparent, encouraging agents to pitch upfront for the business,’ said Domenic Versace, co-founder of ipostcode.com.

He pointed out that property sellers and landlords can compare what agents can offer by listing their property on the site. ‘It is completely free for them to use and gives a useful snapshot of what a selection of agents can offer,’ he added.

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