We are often asked whether or not a prospective vendor should consider using an online agent.
There isn’t a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to whether you should use an online estate agent.
If you think your property will sell relatively easily and you would be comfortable showing buyers around your home, then using an online estate agent could be good value.
However, if you’re stretched for time or would prefer more tailored support and advice, you may be better off using a high street agent.
Most online estate agents will visit your home to value it, just like a high street agent. However you won’t necessarily get an agent with specific knowledge of the local market, unlike some high street agents.
It is standard with most online agents is that you conduct the viewings yourself.
However, a lot of online agents now offer accompanied viewings for an extra fee of around £300.00, whereas some high street agents include this within their fee.
Some (though not all) online estate agents will vet buyers, typically getting details of names, finances and whether potential buyers are already part of a chain. This is normal practice in high street agent’s offices.
- Lack of local knowledge: Even online agents with regional valuers could struggle to compete with a high street agent who knows your neighbourhood and its property market inside out. Your local agent will have a depth of knowledge and comparable evidence when advising you of the most accurate price guide for your individual property.
- Legwork: Some online estate agents will negotiate offers for you and act as a middleman to progress your sale to completion, but not all will. Having to manage communications with buyers and solicitors on your own can be very time-consuming and stressful. High street agents manage the entire process from inception through to completion and are readily available to advise you either in person or on the telephone. Many people still do prefer the personal service.
- The default option with most online agents is that you conduct the viewings yourself. However, a lot of online agents now offer accompanied viewings for an extra fee of around £300.00, whereas most high street agents include this within their fee.
- If you choose an online agent, and have to conduct viewings yourself, you’ll need to be comfortable showing strangers around your home and be available during evenings and weekends. High street agents employ trained sales people to conduct viewings, and most viewers prefer to view property without the vendors being around. Security needs to be a consideration here too
Paying up front
If you opt for this type of package, you won’t be paying on results. In fact, you’ll have to pay even if that company doesn’t end up selling your house. Most high street agents may charge an upfront marketing fee but if the property does not sell then you would not be liable for the full fee.
Because most online estate agents charge a flat fee rather than commission, they have less incentive to get the best price for you. They have reputations to maintain however, and many companies claim they usually achieve the desired asking price. High street agents normally work on commission therefore it is in their best interests to attain the best price for you, and in turn the most commission for them.
In most cases, using an online estate agent will be a lot cheaper than using a high street agent. The more expensive your home is, the more you stand to save if they charge a flat fee. Beware of additional costs however as they quickly mount up. Ultimately, the fee can become fairly irrelevant, it’s more about the service you receive and the end result.
Packages can be tailored to your specific requirements, which is normal practice for high street agents in any case, and you can often track viewings and feedback online (although once again, some high street agents offer this, too). At the moment, online estate agents only have a small share of the estate agency market, they have a very long way to go to compete in this marketplace.
So what is right for you?
It will always come down to the individual choice, which should never be made on fees alone. Research the market leader in your area, have three valuations carried out and check out their web sites to make sure your property fits in with the type and price range of property your chosen agent is currently marketing. If your property warrants the best exposure and highest level of service then this won’t come cheap, however, if you achieve the best result, paying low fees can be false economy. The old saying of you get what you pay for still rings true!
For more information, please call us on 01434 622234 or contact us online.