If you’ve ever bought or sold a house or even gone looking for one, you’ve probably dealt with an estate agent rather than the actual property owner. Estate agents assist individuals and businesses in buying, selling, and leasing properties. After a sale, the owner gets his money, but what does the estate agent get in return?
Most estate agents in the UK work on a commission basis, meaning they receive a portion of the final sale price or rental income as their fee. The commission can be a percentage of the selling price of the property, or a flat fee, as agreed with the property owner prior.
In this article, we will explore the role of estate agents in the UK, the various commission structures they can work under, and the factors determining how much they earn. Let’s dive right in.
How Much Commission Do UK Estate Agents Make?
It is difficult to provide a specific range of commission earnings for estate agents in the UK, as there is significant variation in the commission depending on several factors.
However, some estimates suggest that the average estate agent in the UK earns a commission of around 1.15% to 3% (including VAT) of the final sale price or rental income. This means that for a property priced at £600,000, the estate agent could earn a commission of £9,000 to £18,000.
These are estimates, and the actual charges might be higher or lower, depending on your agreement.
It is also worth noting that the commission earned by an estate agent will typically be shared with their employer or agency. So the amount of commission an individual estate agent takes home may be somewhat lower than the figures mentioned above.
For example, if the agency earns a £9,000 commission from a sale, and the agent gets 10% of this, he gets to take home £900 for this particular sale alone.
Other factors can affect the earning potential of UK estate agents, such as the following.
The Value of the Property
The value of the property is closely related to the type and location of the property. In general, estate agents will earn a higher commission for more valuable properties, as the final sale price or rental income will be higher.
The property’s value is determined by factors such as the type of property and its location. Agents dealing in luxury homes or properties in highly desirable areas or with desirable features like a garden or a pool may command a higher price. Therefore, such properties will fetch a higher commission for the estate agent.
The Complexity of the Sale or Rental Process
The amount of work required to successfully sell or rent a property can also affect an estate agent’s commission. For example, a property with multiple offers or a complex legal process may require more work from the estate agent, resulting in a higher commission.
Number of Properties Sold or Rented
An estate agent’s earning potential will also depend on the number of properties they can sell or rent in a given period. An estate agent who can sell or lease more properties will earn more commissions than one who can only sell or lease a few properties.
An agent’s earning potential will also depend on the market competition the estate agent faces. In a market with many estate agents, it may be more difficult for an individual agent to secure sales or rentals, which could impact their commission earnings.
Some estate agents may also earn additional income through property management services or selling related products, such as home insurance.
Types of Commission Structures for UK Estate Agents
There are a few different commission structures that estate agents in the UK may work under. These include:
- Fixed Fee: In this structure, the estate agent charges a fixed fee for their services, regardless of the final sale price or rental income. This fee may be a flat rate or based on a percentage of the property’s value. Fixed fee structures are typically used for properties that are expected to sell or rent for a relatively low price or for clients who do not want to pay a commission based on the final sale price or rental income.
- Percentage-based commission: In this structure, the estate agent charges a percentage of the final sale price or rental income as their fee. The percentage depends on the type and value of the property and the complexity of the sale or rental process. Percentage-based commission structures are common for more valuable properties or high-demand areas.
Do Buyers Pay Commission to Estate Agents in the UK?
The commission earned by estate agents is paid by the property owner and not the buyer or tenant. If you are considering buying or renting a property in the UK, you will not be required to pay any commission to the agent, even if you decide not to proceed with the purchase or rental.
It is important to note that the commission earned by estate agents is typically included in the overall cost of the property, whether sold or rented. The seller or landlord of the property will factor in the cost of the estate agent’s commission when setting the price of the property.
In some cases, buyers or tenants may be required to pay a fee to the estate agent for certain services, such as arranging viewings or preparing documents related to the sale or rental. However, these fees are usually separate from the commission earned by the estate agent and are disclosed to the buyer or tenant upfront.
Do I Have To Pay Estate Agent Fees in the UK if I Decide Not To Sell?
If you decide to back out of the deal, you will still pay the agent some fees as stipulated in the contract. If the agreement only requires you to pay a commission upon sale, you’re not required by law to pay the agent any amount. However, you’ll also be required to compensate the estate agent for the expenses of advertising the property.
Can I Sell My House Without an Estate Agent?
Yes, it is possible to sell your house in the UK without using the services of an estate agent (For Sale By Owner or FSBO). There are several ways you can go about selling your property privately in the UK.
- List your property on an FSBO website. Several websites in the UK allow you to list your property for sale privately. These websites typically charge a fee for their services but can provide a platform for you to advertise your property and reach potential buyers.
- Advertise your property in local newspapers or on classified websites. You can also advertise your property for sale in local newspapers or on classified websites such as Gumtree or Craigslist.
- Use a property lawyer or conveyancer. Some people choose to use a property lawyer or conveyancer to help them sell their property privately. These professionals can help you with the sale’s legal aspects, such as preparing the contract and handling the transfer of ownership.
Selling your property privately can save you money on agent fees.
However, the process can be more time-consuming and requires more effort than using an estate agent. Even though you might successfully sell your property without the help of an estate manager, here are some reasons you might want to hire one and save yourself the hassle.
- Lack of expertise: Estate agents have extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, advertising, and selling properties. They are also familiar with the local property market and can advise you on the best strategies to sell your property. If you handle the sale of your property, you may lack this expertise and potentially make mistakes that could negatively impact the sale.
- Limited access to potential buyers: Estate agents have access to a vast network of potential buyers through their databases and connections within the industry. If you handle selling your own property, you may have a more limited pool of potential buyers to reach, and you may not have the budget to advertise widely.
- Time-consuming: Selling your property can be very time-consuming. You will need to handle all aspects of the sale process, including marketing, advertising, viewings, and negotiations. This can be especially challenging if you have other commitments or cannot devote much time to the process.
- Legal risks: There are several legal requirements that you need to meet when selling your own property in the UK, such as preparing a valid contract and disclosing any known issues with the property. If you’re unfamiliar with these requirements or make mistakes, you could expose yourself to legal risks.
- Emotional attachment: It can be difficult to be objective about selling your own property, especially if you have a strong emotional attachment to it. This can make it more difficult to negotiate the best price and terms for sale. You might end up overvaluing or undervaluing your property and will not be able to attract buyers as effectively.
The Roles of Estate Agents in the UK: What Do They Do?
Estate agents in the UK have several responsibilities related to the selling or renting out of properties. These may include the following.
- Advising clients on the best way to market and present their property to potential buyers or tenants.
- Arranging and conducting viewings of properties for sale or rent.
- Negotiating the sale or rental price of a property with potential buyers or tenants.
- Preparing and submitting documents related to the sale or rental of a property, such as contracts and reports.
- Advising clients on the legal and financial aspects of buying or selling a property, such as mortgage options and tax implications.
- Maintaining relationships with clients and building a network of contacts to help generate new business for the agency or the employer. This is an important aspect of an estate agent’s job, as it helps build trust and loyalty and can lead to returning clients.
Tips for Estate Agents To Help Them Generate More Business Leads for Their Agency
Success as an estate agent does not come by accident. It takes hard —and smart— work. The following tips can help an aspiring estate agent become successful in the field.
- Utilise online marketing. Estate agents can use online marketing techniques, such as social media, email marketing, and website optimisation, to reach potential clients and generate leads. This may involve creating engaging content, using targeted advertising, or optimising the agency’s website for search engines.
- Network with other professionals. Estate agents can also generate new business leads by networking with solicitors, mortgage brokers, and other estate agents. Real estate agents can gain access to new potential clients and referral businesses by building relationships with these individuals.
- Participate in local events. Estate agents can generate leads by participating in local events, such as community festivals or business networking events. This can raise awareness of the agency and generate new leads through face-to-face interactions.
- Offer excellent customer service. Providing excellent customer service to current clients can help to generate new business leads through word-of-mouth referrals. By consistently delivering a high level of service, estate agents can encourage their clients to recommend the agency to others.
- Utilise local media. To promote the agency and services, estate agents can also generate leads by utilising local media, such as newspapers, radio, or television. This can help to reach a wider audience and generate new leads.
In conclusion, estate agents in the United Kingdom do generally receive a commission for their services in selling a property. The commission is typically a percentage of the property’s sale price and is paid by the seller.
It is crucial for sellers to carefully review the terms of any contract with an estate agent before proceeding, as the commission can be much more than anticipated.
If you feel the costs of hiring an estate agent are not warranted, you can always try to do it yourself, although you’ll experience several challenges, as discussed above.
- Movewise – Estate agent fees: the essential guide, updated for 2022
- HOA – Estate agent fees – and how you can save in 2022
- Property Personel – ALL ABOUT ESTATE AGENCY COMMISSION
- Indeed UK – How much does an estate agent earn? (With career progression)
- Kevin Hanley – Which type of estate agent is right for you?
- The Guardian – Do I need to pay the estate agent’s fees if I pull out of a sale?