Who Pays the Estate Agent?
The Estate Agent acts for the current owner, the seller/ vendor, who would pay them a commission (i.e. a % of the sale price of the house) which can vary considerably – depending on what’s been negotiated.
The buyer does not normally pay a fee to buy a property through an Estate Agent. (For the Agent to charge both sides would be unethical). However it is in the agents interest to help you, as without you, the buyer, there’s no sale and no fee to them.
Beware Estate Agents Bearing Mortgages
Estate Agents can make extra money from you – the buyer – by offering to arrange your mortgage for you. Remember that they actually represent the seller not you so that’s a grey area to start with.
However the real reason to be careful is that they can coerce you into accepting “their” mortgage by threatening at the last minute to give the property to someone else. So you might end up panicking and taking a much more expensive homeloan than necessary. OK most Estate Agents aren’t that bad but apparently it has been known to happen.
If offered this “service” by the sellers agent you’re probably best off making it very clear that you already have an independent mortgage broker on the case. You could innocently query the legality and their Trade / professional codes of your accepting this service from them – ie don’t alienate them early on by putting them on the defensive: Put it in terms of mightn’t you get into trouble…
Note that anyone selling mortgages, including Estate Agents, needs to have taken an exam and be “CEMAP qualified”.