Are estate agents the best option?

In the last few days both the FT and BBC News have raised questions about the way in which estate agents operate.

Sell it yourself?

The BBC asked whether, in the face of high estate agency fees, the best option for selling your house is to sell it yourself.

They pointed to the fact that the government is changing the rules on selling houses over the internet making it easier to find a buyer on a private sale website.

Consumers take the photographs, show potential buyers round the property, organise Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s), and negotiate on price with any potential buyer.

In return for the website posting your photos, and matching you with buyers, you pay them anything from £300 to £600. Sellers who are willing to pay more will also be advertised on sites like Rightmove and Zoopla.

RICS estimates that around 5% of homes in the UK are sold through private websites, meaning de-regulation could make a significant difference.

The BBC questioned how successful going through a private sale site would be, but said that even if most house-sellers fail to embrace the new websites, the forthcoming deregulation could still end up changing the market.

So what changes will conveyancers see? Will a new type of referrer to conveyancers emerge?

The FT raised a different question about whether clients could lose out due to inaccuracy of estate agents.

How does it measure up?

The FT warned that homebuyers risk overpaying for properties by tens of thousands of pounds because of widespread discrepancies between estate agents in measuring floor space.

They analysed more than 200 London properties and found more than half of them had floor plans either larger or smaller than compared with another agent selling the same property.

The findings have ignited calls for a clear industry standard to be introduced that all estate agents must follow.

Are your clients lose out due to inaccuracy of estate agents?

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