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  1. Blog
  2. How to negotiate estate agent fees
Estate agent help and guides
21 December 2021

How to negotiate estate agent fees

GetAgent Team

The average UK house price was £264,000 in August 2021, 10.6% higher than in summer 2020. The post-pandemic house market is booming, but the higher the house prices, the higher the fees you'll be paying to an estate agent as they tend to take a percentage of the sale price.

So how can you save some cash on the fees you'll be paying? Will estate agents negotiate on their costs, so you can take home as much as possible when selling your property? Keep reading to find out more.

Is it possible to haggle estate agent fees?

The simple answer is yes: it is entirely possible to negotiate on estate agent fees, so it's worth haggling and finding out what wiggle room different agents have so that you can get the best deal possible for your sale.

The percentage of the house sale that the agent takes as a fee will likely be negotiable, although some high street agents may have fixed costs that they cannot change. The non-negotiable part of the fees will be VAT. The agents should include the 20% added VAT in the quote you receive but always double-check so there are no surprise costs later.

How to negotiate estate agent fees

Here are some steps on how you can start to haggle down the fees your estate agent has quoted.

1: Find out their opening offer

Ask around some local or online estate agents to find out their basic commission fees and if there is scope for negotiation. You should also try to find out what the average in your area is (for example, you'll pay more in London, as standard). We have covered how much estate agents charge per city here. You can also see the average fee on all our areas pages, and a breakdown of estate agent fees here.

Find out what you're getting for the money. Usually, estate agent fees will include:

  • Listing the property and marketing
  • Taking photographs and drawing up floor plans
  • Putting up a ‘For Sale’ sign
  • Arranging viewings and accompanying potential buyers to viewings
  • Negotiating with potential buyers, solicitors, and surveyors to progress the sale
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2: Find out how low they will go

Start a discussion about the leeway they have with their fees after the agent has seen your property. Once they've seen the home, they'll have a better idea of how quickly it will sell. If you wait until after the valuation, they'll know how much you'll be likely to get in the current market.

Once the estate agent has these two pieces of information, they may be willing to talk about their rate. This is because they'll be able to factor in the effort it will take from them to sell the property and if you're likely to get much more than the asking price based on demand.

3: Call their bluff

If you've gathered quotes from a few estate agents, you can start to negotiate by using these quotes to your benefit. If you're brazen enough, you could bluff about receiving other 'lower rates', regardless of whether you’ve actually gotten any.

If your preferred estate agent doesn't budge, let them know that competitors will go lower. Play the estate agents against each other by mentioning the lower rates that other companies have offered you. But tell your preferred firm that you prefer the services they'd be able to provide you with — ask them if they can match the lower rate because you want to give them the business.

4: Negotiate a sliding scale

Another way to negotiate a better deal for yourself is to ask if the estate agent will agree to a sliding scale rate. For example, if they sell the house over the asking price and within the contracted time limit (say, eight weeks), they will receive 1.2%. If they take longer or sell for only the asking, their rate would be 1%. If they receive offers under the asking price, they'll be paid 0.8%.

This is just an example of how a sliding scale could work, but it means the firm will nip any low offers in the bud and seek out the higher paying buyers since the rate is directly affected. All estate agents will work hard to find you the best deal, but it won't usually affect how much they make. Using their rate to benefit you both could help you secure a better deal or a faster one if your contract length is shorter.

See how long your house should take to sell in the current market:

Can you haggle with fixed fee estate agents?

In most cases you can't haggle with fixed fee estate agents. Chains of estate agents (such as recognisable high street names) may not barter on their terms, as it will be fixed across the company. It's always worth asking if they'll offer the sliding scale terms, but it may not be up to the agents in-store, and the fees could be decided by higher management.

Can you haggle with online estate agents?

Generally you can't haggle with online estate agents. Online estate agents are more likely than local firms to have fixed fees that are non-negotiable. However, you may often have to pay upfront if selling purely online, so be wary of the terms you agree to if it's a cheaper deal.

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Can you refuse to pay estate agent fees?

Yes, you can refuse to pay estate agent fees, but only if they do not equip you with the 'pre-contract information' before you sign the contract with them. In this circumstance, you can refuse to pay because the firm will have fallen short of the law by not giving you the information beforehand.

They can still request a court order for you to pay anyway — but the court may not require you to pay the total amount back if the estate agent is found to have been negligent.

If you have to withdraw from the sale in any way, you will still have to pay some of the fees, as the agents have kept good on their side of the contract. You'll pay them to cover any advertising costs or expenses the agents have already incurred.

What should I expect to pay an estate agent?

Estate agents will charge a percentage fee based on the amount your home sells for. The percentage can be anywhere between 0.75% and 3.0%, and you will add VAT on top.

According to our latest study, the most recent figures state the average estate agent fee for a sole agency contract at 1.18%. After adding VAT, that's 1.42%. For example, if your home sells for the average UK price of £264,000, you'll be paying the agent £3,748.80. Always check this fee includes other services so that any bonus costs do not hit you after you agree to this percentage.

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