Home owners in UK underestimate the work involved in selling a home

Nearly a third of home owners in the UK view estate agents as poor value for money but they dramatically under estimate the work involved in selling a house, new research has found.

Overall, the survey, which analysed the perceptions of UK home owners across a variety of property related topics, including the services consumers expect as part of an estate agent's fee, preferences for online property portals and the public perception of estate agents, concluded that there is a need for more transparency in a rapidly changing property market.

Only 18% of home owners regarded estate agents as helpful but 20% viewed them as knowledgeable. However, 35% thought they are too pushy and 30% perceived them as poor value for money.

When choosing an agent, the fee is the most important deciding factor with 56% rating this as their top consideration, according to the research from estate agent comparison site netanagent. The survey found that a personal recommendation is a close second and local knowledge and responsiveness also ranking highly.

It also found that home owners expect a lot for their money with 25% expecting to pay as little as 0.5% to 1% fee to cover all estate agency services, in comparison to the national average of 1.1%. The firm suggests that this reveals a clear need for better education by estate agents amongst consumers about what a fee covers and the work that goes into selling a property.  

As part of the fee, 52% expect photography to be included while 49% expect their property to be listed on property portals. Some 10% expect the running of open days to be included as standard, along with 6% expecting video marketing services and 10% virtual tours to all be part of the fee.

The research also shows a major shift in how people are prepared to sell property. Some 85% are willing to consider using an online estate agent. The report says this is symptomatic of a changing market, with traditional high street agents not always the first port of call when selling a house.

Despite this trend, there is still a clear appreciation for the services offered by traditional agents, with reasons to not use an online agent including a desire to speak to people face to face when dealing with big decisions and for local people to sell a house in the local area.

With the increased competition in the marketplace from online agents, the survey reveals that 96% of home owners would consider comparing estate agents' fees and services online if they could, to help decide which agent to use when selling a property. 

Findings from the survey also reveal that the most popular time for home owners to conduct estate agent research is in the evening, with 38% doing so between 6pm and 9pm, outside of traditional opening hours for many high street agents.

When looking for property online, only 13% of respondents visit OnTheMarket to search for property online, 83% Rightmove and 57% Zoopla. The report says that this highlights the need for increased awareness of the different property portals available to consumers, to ensure home owners are receiving the best possible exposure in an increasingly digital world.

‘Estate agents have often come under the cosh in the past and are an easy target for consumers who think they aren't getting value for money as part of one of the biggest sales or purchasing decisions they will ever make. With more savvy consumers who are willing to shop around and the rise of online estate agents enabling sellers to do more themselves, the pressure is really on to show people that they are getting value for money,’ said the firm’s managing director, Alex Thorpe.

‘What's clear from our research is that home owners don't necessarily understand the sheer amount of work that goes into selling a property. From local knowledge and an understanding of the marketplace, to an awareness of what a target audience is looking for and an understanding of how best to promote property, estate agents work very hard for their fee to deliver the best price for a home owner. There is a real need for estate agents to better promote the value they can bring consumers so sellers can truly understand the best estate agent for their needs,’ he added.