Estate agency fees remain one of the sticking points with property owners hoping to sell their current buy-to-let investments. A commission usually ranging between 1.5 and 2.5% of the selling price of the property, pushing up the cost of simply managing the viewing and sale of a property into the region of thousands of pounds.
Taking the average current UK house price according to the Land Registry (£162,000), for instance, a seller could expect to pay between £2,430 and £4,050 on agency fees alone. The more expensive the house, the more expensive the sale.
Despite this, however, budget estate agents (which are often private and online-only) currently account for only 5% of completed sales transactions, according to figures from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
A new website, WeSold.co.uk, is attempting to break the mould with the country’s first ‘pay-per-viewing’ estate agency service. After an up-front fee of £99.00 plus VAT (£118.80) for taking photographs, drawing up a floor plan and listing a property with several major online portals, the online agency charges £35 plus VAT (£42) per viewing, up to a maximum of £420 plus vat (£504) for 12 viewings. This brings the maximum cost of selling a property using the service, no matter the property price, to £622.80.
That the fees are a mere fraction of what a high street estate agent is likely to charge will doubtless entice customers, and the 12-viewing fee cap likely incentivises WeSold to sell a house quickly. The measure of the business will be the quality of offers it attracts; as their model is not percentage-based, there is no reason for the agency to strive to sell the house at its asking price or higher. Time will likely tell if this new breed of online agent provides a competitive service, and sets the standard that other agencies will begin to follow.