In the future - Using an estate agent

Estate agents generally charge a percentage of the sale price of the property. This can differ according to the area you live in. London and the South-east are generally the most expensive, with agents charging between 2% and 3% of the price. If you give them a 'sole agency' -that is, agree that you will instruct no other agency on the property -then they may charge 2% (plus VAT). If you instruct several agents, the commission has to be shared between them, and so is likely to be 0.5% (plus VAT) extra.

Provincial estate agents may be 0.5% cheaper in both cases. If you're selling the ancestral home, however, you may find an agent charges 3%.

Since the first action of most flat- or house-hunters is to put themselves on every relevant estate agent's list, there doesn't seem a lot of point in instructing more than one agent -at least to begin with. If you have several weeks or months with no success, you might consider changing agents rather than adding another.

You should also have a rethink as to whether the price you are asking is actually realistic or whether the estate agent has persuaded you to pitch it at too high a level. Since agents are rewarded through a percentage of the selling price, it is in their interest to arrange a sale at as high a price as possible, and so this may lead them to suggest an unrealistically high figure.

To balance that, however, it is also in their interest to sell the place as quickly as possible, as they don't get their fees until the sale is completed.

In the future - Selling a property

My feeling is that buying and selling property is a horrid enough business as it is, without all the characters involved starting to behave like JR. The only thing to do is grit your teeth, keep your fingers crossed, and behave in the way you would like your vendor to treat you.

Anyway, down to practicalities. When you move, should you try to sell first or buy first? Opinions differ over this. Conventional wisdom says that in a rising market you should fix up your purchase first, and then put your house on the market. That way, you'll benefit from the rise in prices over the next month or two until you arrange your sale.

Many people, however, like to get their sale arranged first, preferring the . . .... see: In the future - Selling a property

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