Estate agents have plenty of reasons to celebrate the housing book. Since they earn their commission based on the sale price of any property they market, the high prices rice, the more they earn, says finance expert Harvey Jones.

The average seller now pays a whopping £4,737 to sell their home through a high street estate agent, new figures show, plus 20 per cent VAT on top. That's great news for estate agents, bad news for homeowners.In the current seller's market, good houses in popular areas can find buyers within days or even hours, which means estate agents don't have to work so hard to get that lavish payout. People have been moaning about estate agency fees for years, but finally, you can do something about it.

Market your own house

Growing numbers are taking the plunge by marketing their homes through the new breed of online estate agency, which will sell your home for a single upfront fee of around £400 plus VAT. That means you could save more than £4,000 when selling the average £250,000 property. Those with more expensive properties could save £10,000 or more.

House sales sites such as Emoov.co.uk, Hatched.co.uk and Housesimple.co.uk are growing in popularity, as more homeowners feel comfortable selling their home online. Traditional estate agents claim they are worth the money because they have in-depth knowledge about the local market, and retain a shortlist of willing buyers. But their competitive edge is under threat given that 95% of us now start our property search online, by logging onto portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.

Since most online estate agents advertise their properties on these portals, they are competing on level terms with the high street rivals. The sites even claim to offer a full estate agency service, including professional photos and floorplans, energy performance certificates, and help with buyer negotiations. The big difference is that you will have to conduct viewings yourself, they won't send an agent to do them on your behalf.

 

If you're happy showing people around yourself, what's stopping you?

Well, traditional agents claim they add value, by sifting carefully through potential buyers, and holding your hand throughout the process. They also use their market knowledge to secure a fair price for your property. An online estate agent may not understand local conditions, and you could lose more money on the sale than you save on fees. Many people are also too busy to show people around their home, or handle subsequent negotiations with buyers, solicitors and surveyors. Given the savings on offer, however, more of us may be willing to give it a try.

£4,000 is a lot of money. Do you really want to hand it to an estate agent?

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