Registration fees, viewing fees or moving fees as some real estate agents call it, are a levy or charge some agents require of clients before they even show them their real estate offering. If you are a seeker that has had to use multiple agents, this is a term you have come to hate, and may have come to believe is just another term for ripping you off for no work done. This fee – usually between 20 and 50 cedis – is typically disclosed from the start and on property search websites like meQasa.com, are stated on the property detail page. However, some estate agents have a pretty good basis for which they charge this fee. Here are a few such reasons:
Commitment fee: Most agents require a token fee that signifies you’ve entered into a binding contract with them and they are solely responsible for finding your desired real estate (office or house) The reasoning here is, you will be unlikely to want to secure yet another agent’s services after having paid money to them to serve your housing needs. It will make little sense for you to secure another to perform the same duty as them when you have to pay both.
Transport/fuel levy: Some real estate agents refer to the registration fee as the moving or transport fee. They say this is to provide fuel for their vehicle (if they are using their own means of transport to get you there and back or to meet you there), or to secure the services of a taxi or trotro for the trip to the property. In situations where this is the agent’s motivation for taking the money, you might find yourself having to pay for each property shown you. Obviously, this will not do. Agents are human though so it’s okay to communicate your dismay. Mention from the start that this will add up to too much and negotiate a more reasonable way to go about it.
Consultation fee: Some agents who are more elite, consider this a consultation fee before the actual service is delivered. They liken it to other professionals like doctors and lawyers who will charge you a consultation fee before prescribing a remedy or taking your case. They defend this by stating that the fee is nowhere near what they would charge as commission on closing a sale with the client. They might have paperwork for you to complete detailing your ideal property, budget, neighbourhoods, etc.
To deter other agents from posing as seekers: This is, possibly, the origin of the registration fees. Some unscrupulous estate agents pose as seekers and go with unsuspecting agents to see their property after which they return with their own clients and close the deal with the homeowners without giving the original agent their share of the commission. So some agents who have been victims of this or do not want to be victims of this scam, charge a registration fee, knowing that fraudster seekers are unlikely to want to part with any money in their pretense.
Sometimes, it is best to talk with your real estate agent about their reasons for charging the fee. Some agents do not charge it at all, others swear by it and yet others are flexible enough to waive it if you ask them nicely enough. If you are new to Ghana, perhaps, this is new to you but is one of the essential things you need to know about renting and buying property in Ghana. Don’t be shy to discuss it with your real estate agent if you have reservations about it. But, hopefully, now you have a better understanding of the basis for the registration fees, you might feel a little differently about it.