What is the difference between sole, joint or multiple agency?

Sole agency, as the name suggests, is one single agent who is instructed to market your property usually for an agreed minimum period. Some agents tie clients into onerous and/or lengthy contracts, we don’t! Our sole agency period is just 6 weeks, with a proviso that if you are unhappy at any point, simply phone us and we will terminate the contract with immediate effect.

A joint agency is where two companies, normally in different towns, are instructed to sell a property that lies perhaps on the edge of both offices boundaries.  It is also sometimes the case that clients require a national agent based in a larger town to work in conjunction with a local agent in the nearest town.  In this instance, a higher fee is agreed and normally split equally between the two agents.

A multiple agency is a higher fee again, where the seller can instruct any number of agents and will only pay the company that introduces the buyer.  This can create the impression that the seller is overly keen to sell and when the property appears on the internet with a number of agents it can give the wrong impression. We would not normally recommend this type of agency.

Why do fees vary between different agencies?

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. An agent who is offering a discounted fee will usually offer a discounted service.

There are a few things to consider when comparing agents service and fee structure. There is no doubt that the internet is the biggest innovation within the industry in recent years and websites play an important role in the marketing process. At Blount & Maslin we subscribe to Rightmove and OnTheMarket. The Rightmove website receives the most hits by some considerable margin and we utilise additional marketing products from them, including brand plus, premium display and local homepage to ensure our properties stand out from the crowd.

The second biggest innovation in recent years is floor plans. It is essential that your agent uses a professional system as properties with a good quality floor plan receive far more hits than others.

As with most businesses, staffing is a major overhead and any agent is only as good as its weakest link. Employing an experienced workforce naturally comes at a price. At Blount & Maslin we only employ local people, with a depth of local knowledge, so they can sell Malmesbury and the surrounding villages from a position of strength.

I see some agents display the NAEA logo, what does this mean?

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) are now part of the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP) and are the organisation, which represents Estate Agents. They charge an annual fee and require new members to sit an exam to join. Members who are directors or partners within their firms are required to have the appropriate Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance and also join the Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPO) and subscribe to their code of practice.

The government are reluctant to introduce licensing within the industry despite the vast majority of reputable agents being in favour. The greatest protection and comfort the public can get is to use an Estate Agent who is a licensed member of the NAEA, which of course Blount & Maslin are.

What is stamp duty?

It’s the tax charged by the government when you buy a home for more than £125,000. The rate you pay – which depends on the value of your home – changed in England, Wales and Scotland on December 4, 2014.

Under the old rules, you paid a flat rate depending on the value of your property – that same rate applied to the entire transaction. Under the new rules the rate changes on a sliding scale, just like income tax.

How much is stamp duty?

Purchase Price New stamp duty rates paid
0 – £125,000 Zero
£125,001 to £250,000 2%
£250,001 to £925,000 5%
£925,001 to £1.5 million 10%
More than £1.5m 12%


If you buy a property for £275,000, you’ll pay £3,750 of SDLT. This is made up of:

  • nothing on the first £125,000
  • £2,500 on the next £125,000
  • £1,250 on the remaining £25,000

Use the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) SDLT calculator to work out how much you’ll pay.

… for a property worth £185,000?

Previously, you would have paid £1,850 in stamp duty. Now you will only have to pay £1,200, saving you £650.

… for a property worth £275,000?

Before the changes buying a house for £275,000 (the average UK house price) – for which stamp duty would have been 3% – would cost you £8,250. Under the new rules, buying that same house would see you taxed for just £3,750, and you’ll be saving £4,500.

… for a property worth £510,000?

For a £510,000 home, the total stamp duty would have been £20,4000 (a flat rate of 4%). Now that home would attract a stamp duty of only £15,500, and you’ll be saving £4,900.

Why do we have to pay it?

When you buy a property the change in land ownership has to be legally registered at the Land Registry. This process requires a certificate from the HMRC – which they will only issue on receipt of the stamp duty due on the purchase of the property. So, put simply, if you don’t pay the stamp duty, you can’t buy your new home.  Luckily, you don’t have to worry about it as it’s one of the things your solicitor takes care of.

Where did it come from?

It’s an ancient tax, first introduced in the UK in 1694 during the reign of William and Mary to raise money for the war against France. Initially, it was a tax or duty on documents that required the Royal seal (or stamp) to be legally valid ¬ documents like the transfer of ownership of land.

What different types of surveys are available?

There are three basic types of survey – a mortgage valuation, a homebuyers report or a full building survey.

  1. The mortgage valuation: essentially undertaken by the lender to confirm that the property you are intending to buy represents suitable collateral for the loan.  This is essentially to protect their interest and will not provide you with any significant detail regarding the property.
  2. The homebuyers report: this is the most popular form of survey for properties built in a conventional fashion.  The report will grade any works required in order of urgency.
  3. A building survey: this is a comprehensive inspection suitable for all properties, but would be particularly recommended when buying a very old or listed building. It is particularly important if the property has been neglected or poorly maintained, as it will provide a schedule of works required in order to update the property.

Prices naturally vary depending upon the size of the property.  We are able to provide a number of local individuals who are all members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

What is an EPC?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required when selling all residential property. It provides information on the energy efficiency of the property and information about how to improve it.  An EPC is valid for ten years, but if significant changes or improvements were made to (eg insulation levels) it would be advisable to renew the certificate prior to selling.  For brand new buildings an estimated rating is required. An EPC is not required if you are selling a Listed Building.

“We have no hesitation in recommending Keith Maslin and his efficient team at Blount and Maslin Estate Agents. Keith’s wealth of local knowledge is second to none. He visited our property, advised us and we were impressed enough to sign with him. Our particulars were very thorough and the photographs good. One of the team accompanied every viewing and we were kept in the loop throughout the entire process. If we move in the future Blount and Maslin would be our first choice.”