by Mark Johnston
Government Plans to Help Private Property Sales.
When it comes to selling a property, most home owners turn to a local estate agent for a valuation, photographs, listing the property both in the branch and online, while also supplying the traditional for sale board.
Most high street estate agents have traditionally used their shop windows as their biggest draw for choosing them, yet they also now see listing properties online, via websites such as Rightmove, Zoopla and FindaProperty, as crucial.
Traditional estate agents charge a fee for selling services and offer advice. Some people may want to avoid these fees by making a private sale, and websites have been set up aiming to link them to potential private buyers.
A recent report from Which?, the consumer help magazine, found estate agent fees range from 0.75 per cent to 2.5 per cent, with 1.8 per cent the average fee. Selling a £300,000 property on this basis would cost £5,400. Basically on average fees typically account for about 2 per cent of a property’s sale price.
However, some property experts feel that selling privately could be a “useful and cost efficient method” and there are some intermediaries now entering the market to help consumers to do so.
It seems that soon under new Government proposals, which are to remove restrictions on websites that allow vendors to advertise direct to the public, home sellers will find it easier to avoid handing over thousands in fees to estate agents.
Tepilo, sellmyhouse.co.uk and housesimple.co.uk are just a few of the web based intermediaries that will benefit from the governments new plans.
Jo Swinson, the new consumer affairs minister, said: ‘These intermediaries help buyers and sellers contact each other at a low cost, but they do not engage in other estate agent activities”.
The Department for Business, Innovations and Skills (BIS)has proposed amendments to the Estate Agents Act so that web-based ‘intermediaries’ that allow sellers to advertise their home online direct to buyers, will no longer be treated in the same way as estate agents.
Some experts believe that by reducing the regulations for these businesses it will open up the market and increase choices for consumers looking to save costs when buying or selling a property.
At the moment these intermediaries find it difficult to access so of the powerful property web portals such as, Zoopla, Findaproperty and Rightmove, as they are paid by estate agents to aggregate listings and provide house hunters with a one-stop shop to search for properties.
However, Peter Bolton King, global residential director at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: ‘These amendments have the potential to place homebuyers and sellers at significant risk, an unintended consequence that RICS, and other stakeholders, highlighted during the department for Business, Innovations and Skills’ (BIS) consultation on the proposals this summer.
In addition, property market commentator Henry Pryor said: “it may make life potentially more confusing for house buyers”.
Some property expert did also warn that in order to avoid estate agents fees consumers would end up with less protection during the transaction.
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