Our Fixed Price Estate Agency Philosophy

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An interview with Cameron to explain The Cameron Stephen Fixed Price Estate Agency Fee philosophy.

Amy Lorimer interviews Cameron, solicitor and founding partner of Cameron Stephen & Co solicitors and estate agents based at 14 Constitution Street in Leith, Edinburgh, on the reasons why he offers sellers in Edinburgh a fixed fee estate agency service.

We are sitting in the Rocksalt cafe in Leith on a Monday morning when it is still reasonably quiet...


Is Rocksalt a cafe you come to often?
It is convenient as our offices are just down the street, but yes, it is one of my favourite cafes in Leith.

What does the week hold for you, Cameron?
Well, this week is going to be a busy week. It is the last week of the month and so this Friday we have about ten property completions to arrange and Jayne, our estate agent, has something like four new properties that will be listed. That and all the new business that will come in and arranging closing dates. A very busy week.

But still time to take a break for a coffee?
Certainly. I have to work hard and long hours, but fitting in down time is vital.

So, Cameron, tell me about your fixed fee estate agency service. I think this is something you have always done. Is that right?
Yes. Pretty much from day one, when we started business back in 2009. That was part of our philosophy and one of our core values.

Is it unusual to offer estate agency for a fixed fee?
It was at the time, but it is becoming a little more common now. Most estate agents in Edinburgh will still charge their sellers an estate agency fee on a commission basis. Typically that commission is about 0.75% of the sale price. That's how it has always been done.

Sorry, how does that work? For someone like me who has not sold a property before.
Well, on the commission basis, if you sold your home for £150,000 the bill would be £1,125. If you sold your home for £200,000 the bill would be £1,500. If you sold your home for £300,000 then the bill would be £2,250.

And instead of charging your clients on that commission basis, you charge them a fixed fee?
That's right, we charge a fixed fee of £850.

I see. So, from an estate agent's point of view, the higher the value of the property they sell, the more money they make? Why not do the same? Surely you would make more money that way?
Yes, I can see that it might sound like madness to want to charge less, but let me try to explain it, because this is really the heart of our philosophy at Cameron Stephen.

You and I are both drinking a cup of coffee. The cost of the ingredients are the same. The work involved in preparing and serving these cups of coffee to us are the same. Agreed? So, you would expect the price for the coffee to be the same? You wouldn't expect the price charged for your cup of coffee to be different to the price charged for my cup of coffee?

Well, that how I see selling properties. That's it in a nutshell. I believe that like these cups of coffee, the cost of providing the service for marketing a property are the same regardless of the value of the property being marketed. And so the estate agency fee should be the same for everyone. That in my view is the fair thing to do and the right way to do business.

And at the same time save your client's money.
Yes, we can potentially save our clients many hundreds of pounds for providing exactly the same service.    Now this is important. For exactly the same service. I would even go further than that. I believe our estate agency service is up there with the best that is offered in Edinburgh.

You sound a little evangelical about it.
I am. I remember a few years ago, someone was recommended to us. Although we did the legal work for the sale of her home and the purchase of her new home, she decided to use another firm of solicitors and estate agents in Edinburgh for her marketing. Their bill for the estate agency was a eye-watering £8,000.

How much?!
£8,000. And not only that but there were only three people who viewed. They also charged that person for the costs for property brochures and the for sale board. Even though this is perhaps an extreme example, I just found it completely unjustifiable to charge someone so much for doing so little. To use stronger language, I thought it was a complete rip off.

Sounds like you're on a mission?
I am. We could have provided the same level of service and the same level of marketing for about one tenth of what she was charged.
In my view, there are too many estate agents out there in Edinburgh that charge their sellers a commission of 0.75% and do pretty much what they did ten years ago. They have stood still. If you don't believe me, I suggest you go to some of their websites or take a look at their property brochures. I just cannot understand how sellers are prepared to accept so little and yet be charged so much.

Do you want to name names?
No. That would not be fair of me to do that. The point I am making is that at Cameron Stephen we are passionate about buying and selling properties and all things property. And since Jayne, our estate agent, joined us last year, we have improved no end. We are always looking for ways to improve the service.

And business is doing well?
Yes. Very well. We have had a terrific start to 2017. At a time when the ESPC is reporting a reduction in the number of property listings we are having a record number of listings.

Sounds like you are making few converts?

And your goal?
As always, to deliver the best possible service for the best value to our clients. And to never stop thinking of ways to improve.

And to make more converts.
Yes, that too.


For more information on Cameron Stephen & Co. solicitor and estate agents in Edinburgh and our fixed fee estate agency service take a look at our Selling with Cameron Stephen page.



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