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National newspaper says agents’ fees are biggest barrier to downsizing

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Estate agents’ fees were named as the biggest financial barrier for downsizers to sell up and buy somewhere smaller.

The Daily Mail yesterday said that estate agents’ fees average 1.8%.

The paper said that downsizing costs vendors almost £29,000 in costs, adding that “Stamp Duty is only half of it”.

The article, in the weekly Money Mail section, said the costs were “crippling” and were a “huge obstacle” to people wanting to downsize: the paper said it is simply not worth their while to move once costs are factored in.

The piece took as an example a four-bedroom home worth £490,284 with the owners wanting to downsize to a two-bedroom home at £292,797.

Stamp Duty would cost £4,640.

However, the average estate agency fee at 1.8% – the Mail drew the figure from an outdated Which? figure which has several times been cited in Advertising Standards Authority cases – would come to £8,825 plus VAT, a total of £10,590.

Only yesterday, online agent HouseSimple was banned by the ASA from claiming that high street agents charge “1.5% to 4% (plus 20% VAT)”.

According to yesterday’s Mail, other costs would include conveyancing at £2,000 and a survey at £600.

Altogether the Mail put the downsizing costs at £28,830.

That would leave a pensioner swapping a four-bed for a two-bed with £168,657 after the move, said the paper, which seems unaware that Which? has amended its average estate agency fee to 1.3%.

As EYE has repeatedly reported, a number of agents charge less than this. Selling a relative’s property last year, the charge from a well-known regional agent was 1%, and given the length of time to sell and the amount of sales progression the agent had to do, this was not begrudged.

Which? has previously put the average estate agent fee at 1.8%. It now quotes My Home Move’s average of 1.3% – although it does claim that fees can range from under 1% to 3.5%.

The whole issue begs the question as to whether high street agents should openly state their fees.

We fully understand how difficult this issue is.

But has the time come?

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