HOUSE-sellers have been advised to shop around for the best deal when selling their home after a leading estate agent increased its fee by 50pc.
The Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA) said yesterday that 'canny' people should negotiate fees up-front - and slammed auctioneers Sherry Fitzgerald as a "disgrace" for hiking up its commission.
The move could lead to a backlash against estate agents. Websites which help people sell their homes privately for less than €200 said yesterday they had seen a marked increase in the number of inquiries.
Website www.privateseller.ie said that since Sherry Fitzgerald announced it would hike up its prices, it has received twice the number of calls it normally would from people seeking to place an advertisement.
Earlier this week, the company said it would increase its fee from 1pc to 1.5pc which would have left sellers with a bill of €6,000 when selling their €400,000 property.
It claimed the increase was necessary so a "high-quality service could be provided in difficult market conditions". It is one of the largest estate agents in the country with over 100 branches and franchises.
But yesterday the move was sharply criticised by the IPOA, which said sellers should 'vote with their feet' and employ agents with a proven track record of selling homes.
The association represents some 5,000 property owners, most of whom are landlords.
"It's an absolute disgrace that a large auctioneering firm can increase their charges by 50pc plus VAT," chairman Stephen Faughnan said.
"An increase of this magnitude should motivate people to vote with their feet and get better value with more local and focused auctioneers.
"We recommend to our members that the auctioneering fee is negotiated initially and confirmed in writing prior to placing business. The old saying is 'buyer beware', but we would say 'seller beware'."
Fiona McLoughlin, managing director of privateseller.ie, said it had seen a noticeable increase in its business so far this year because canny house-sellers wanted to save money. Advertising a home for sale on the website costs €199.
"The amount of people using the site has doubled this morning, and it tripled yesterday," she said. "We'd normally get about 50 new listings a month, but we've had seven so far today.
"We have been steadily growing. Last year we had about 250 listings at any one time, but this year it's up to 500.
"When the fees go up, it pushes people to try something else. About 85pc of our customers have tried to sell through an agent but couldn't."
Claire O'Gorman from sellityourself.ie said people should consider selling privately before approaching an estate agent as they could save thousands of euro.
"I think we've seen an increase in business because people are getting more savvy," she said. "We're getting more and more business from Dublin, and a lot of rural properties.
"When you go with an estate agent, you also pay for newspaper ads and VAT. I think it's definitely an option everyone should go down."
26 May 2007
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