Online agent House Network has accused unspecified numbers of traditional estate agents of hiding their VAT fees.
A statement from the agency claims: “It’s also interesting to note that many traditional high street estate agents add a hidden VAT charge on top of the sale price, whereas we cover VAT charges in the price of the fee so there are no surprises at the end.”
The statement also includes the claim that sellers could ‘save’ as much as £3.5 billion a year if they deserted traditional estate agents.
Using data from HMRC and from its own survey of 2,000 adults earlier this year, House Network claims that 68 per cent of consumers think that estate agents should charge a flat fee and just 12 per cent believe that traditional high street agents charge a fair price.
It claims that, based on HMRC figures from 2015, sellers could have saved an average of £2,844 per home sold had they used an online agent. It says that even larger savings would be possible this year, as house prices in most areas have risen.
It claims that the economy as a whole would benefit, saying in a statement that “many hybrid online agents offer the same service but at a fraction of the price, and the savings could provide consumers with additional money in their pockets that could help bolster consumer spending, and the economy.”
A spokesman for the agency says: “Most people don’t realise that many estate agents haven’t changed their fee rates for years. Charging 1.5 per cent of the sale price now amounts to a lot more than it did 20 years ago, particularly in the capital and south east.”