A guide to estate agents in the UK - all you need to know

A guide to estate agents in the UK - all you need to know

February, 2022

Estate agents make the life of anyone wishing to sell their home or perhaps find a new one a lot easier. If you are about to embark on any of these financial missions, or perhaps just want to know more about the work of an estate agent, you should read our guide on what estate agents do.

What does an estate agent mean?

The term is used in the UK to describe a professional engaged in the mortgage, selling and renting of a property. And while historically there were different aspects to the job, which required three different terms, such as land agent, house agent and estate agent, nowadays the duties are all amalgamated into the umbrella term estate agent. The estate agent of today often is part of a company, which specialises in letting and/or selling properties within a given area. When the owner of a property wishes to let or sell, they approach an estate agent to do the marketing and negotiate with buyers and tenants.

How does the estate charge for their services?

When a person wants to sell their property with the aid of an estate agent, they pay for the service with a percentage of the sale price. This is the fee of the estate agent and it is agreed upon before they are enlisted for the job. Different agencies charge different fees, and the number can be anywhere between 1.5% to 5% plus VAT. Because of the way their fee is determined, an estate agent should do everything in their power to get a property sold at the best price. Sellers should always be mindful of estate agencies offering a suspiciously low fee, since they may not be as motivated to sell their homes. As for estate agents working with residential lettings, they determine the price in different ways – from flat fees for one time services to commissions on the rent.

What are the duties of an estate agent?

Estate agents have many different duties. They deal with lettings and sales, sometimes even both. They meet new people who want to sell a property and work with them on setting up an asking price and marketing strategies. Estate agents need to focus on marketing, which features advertising channels and making sure it reaches the most buyers. Once there is any interest, an estate agent should meet potential buyers and conduct viewings on the property with them. They can also lead the negotiation process, to come up with a price that suits all sides.

Are problems possible with estate agents?

It is good to know that the most common complaint people have with an estate agent lies with simple areas of administration, like incorrect payments. Only in rare cases do estate agents resort to dishonesty and malicious behaviour. Sometimes people report their agents to claim a higher fee than the one they first provided, or that they withhold offers made on their property. Agents are legally obliged to pass on all offers, so that is something to note. It is important to point out that working with a reputable and regulated estate agency is always a good thing, so investing in research pays off big time.

Is using an estate agent mandatory?

The short answer is no. Everyone can buy or sell a property without the aid of an estate agent. However, there are many dangers buyers and sellers expose themselves to when they decide to cut out the middleman. They can make a mistake and spend more, or just not get a very good deal quickly enough if they rely on their resources only.

© Open Estates