Just received a completion statement in the post today. Sale price £240,000. Estate agents fees £3,600 plus VAT. Solicitors fees (not my firm) £500 plus VAT. Nothing unusual about that you might say, and you’d be right. Hold on a minute… the estate agents, who cursorily inspected the property, wrote up some particulars and advertised it charged THREE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED POUNDS more than the solicitors, who did all the conveyancing work. Why the fuck do most sellers accept this? Christ, if the solicitors tried to charge that much they’d be complaining from the tree tops. And don’t give me any of that crap about advertising fees and the two things not being comparable – when I started out in this profession some twenty seven years ago solicitors and estate agents charged about the same. Since then, whilst we’ve capitulated to pressures to keep our fees down (with the result that we’re barely making any profit on the work), estate agents have been allowed to quietly increase their fees so that the type of figures mentioned above have become acceptable.
As there is little prospect of property sellers waking up to the fact that they’re being screwed, my advice to any aspiring ‘fat cat’ is to forget about becoming a lawyer with all that training and outside interference by regulators, and become an estate agent instead.