Originally Posted by astrofool
Your basic assertion is "why should the sales profession exist", it's nonsensical, some people are better at creating, some better at selling, a good EA will most likely get a better price for a property than you will for a number of different reasons.
If I was buying a house, I'd much prefer to deal with the vendor directly, as I believe I'd get it at a better price than if they were using an EA (better being 5% or >).
No, it's slightly more nuanced than that: it's why use a sales agent that's working off high commissions unless they can demonstrably provide more value than they cost.
We live in the era of digital disruption. Middlemen and sales agents are having their professions wiped out by technological advances at a phenomenal rate.
On-line property listing sites like Daft have become the defacto standard means of prospective buyers finding properties they're interested in. This changes the market landscape as the sales agents position as a funnel through which a prospective buyers must be sourced by a vendor has been eradicated.
An EA can add value by taking some of the hassle out of the transaction for a vendor and saving the vendor's time. If that's all they offer for a 5k plus commission, you'd have to place a very high value on your own time to make their value proposition worthwhile (particularly when they'll be billing you separately for any expenses they incur in providing the professional photographer, listing your property on Daft / MyHome etc).
If they can fully offset the cost of their fees (or exceed them) by achieving a 5% or greater variance in a sales price, an EA represents extremely good value for money. However, we've seen no evidence that any EAs assertion they can do so are demonstrably true.
If, as jimwallace197 seems to be insinuating in his last post, EAs benefit from a greater level of access to Property Price Register data than the general public (or have other sources of data which they can merge the register data with), and the data points exist to determine the average variance in prices achieved by EAs versus those listing properties themselves or even via the smaller "fixed fee" (mostly) on-line agents I'd have thought it a bit of a no brainer for them to crunch the numbers and issue press releases or advertisements demonstrating the value they provide to their customers.
I've never seen such an analysis which leads me to believe that it's either unquantifiable or that the metric doesn't back up agents assertions as to the premium prices they can obtain for vendors.