Fall-throughs cost estate agents more than £60m a year – research

More needs to be done to address the high level of fall-through activity being recorded across the country which is costing estate agents more than £60m in lost income, fresh research suggests.

Home Sale Pack has analysed residential fall-through data from TwentyCI and measured it against the estimated cost to the agent when they have to remarket a home they thought had already sold, thus gaining a good understanding of how much agents are out of pocket as a result of fall-throughs.

According to the data in 2023, there were an estimated 269,728 fall-throughs in the UK. The good news for agents is that this marks an annual decline of 14.5 % from 2022, and the second consecutive annual drop after the market rush of the pandemic years saw fall-throughs soar between 2019 and 2021.

The bad news is that these fall-throughs still represent a significant amount of time and money lost to the unpredictability of the home-selling process.

Each fall-through represents a loss in income from the commission an agent would have made on a sale. In a best-case scenario, the home will eventually sell, but a fall-through will mean a significant delay in revenue, while there is the possibility that other agents could be instructed owing to delays.

Home Sale Pack study assumes that the average estate agent charged 1.5% in 2023, meaning that the 269,728 transactions that did fall through equate to £1.2bn in lost or delayed earnings.

However, lost commission is not the only cost that agents incur due to fall-throughs.

When a sale falls through, agents often have to spend time relisting and remarketing a property. Once they have, there is also the cost incurred of conducting the viewing process all over again.

Home Sale Pack estimates that the average viewing costs an agent £23.35, based on the time each viewing takes out of their day, and the travel costs of getting to and from the appointment.

It also estimates that to sell a home requires an average of 10 viewings, which means total viewings costs hit an average of £233.43 per property.

Times this by the number of annual fall-throughs (269,728) and Home Sale Pack estimates that agents spent £63m in 2023 alone on conducting viewings for properties they thought they had already secured a buyer for.

Ruth Beeton, co-founder of Home Sale Pack, said: “The good news is that fall-through rates have declined in the past year, but this decline has only come due to a reduction in market activity, not an improvement in the certainty of the home selling process.

“And it’s not just buyers and sellers who are left frustrated and out of pocket when a sale collapses, it also impacts estate agents, who have to begin the marketing process all over again, costing them both time and money in the process.

“Fall-throughs are often caused by two things above everything else – the late discovery of important information and buyers or sellers getting cold feet – both of which become increasingly likely the longer the transaction drags on.

“We believe that fall-through numbers will radically decline, and do so permanently rather than sporadically, if buyers are simply presented with the most important information they require from the very start. This can be achieved through the better collection and distribution of upfront information on the side of the seller.”

 

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