Should I use an online estate agent?

Posted 11 September 2015 by Keith Osborne

The debate over the significance of online estate agents is one of the hottest talking points in property, sparking considerable animosity between the tech-savvy online-only operators and long-standing high street names.

The debate over the significance of online estate agents is one of the hottest talking points in property, sparking considerable animosity between the tech-savvy online-only operators and long-standing high street names. Although online agents currently boast just a 5% market share, their popularity is undoubtedly on the increase.

Cost 

Online agents claim they can significantly undercut the ‘percentage’ system charged by high street estate agents. If a traditional agent charges 1.5% of selling price, this would still result in £4,500 of costs for a £300,000 home. Even the pricier online agents appear to charge less than £1,000 for their services.

The fees offered online are attractive to proactive sellers who are willing to take care of the nuts and bolts – such as conducting viewings – themselves. Packages vary significantly between different companies, from true DIY services to pay on completion options. For more on this, see our guide to choosing an online agent.

Service

High street agents prefer to fight their battle on the customer service front and remain suspicious of the pricing structures offered by their online counterparts. Many long-standing traditional agents view the online process as simplistic and claim their counterparts simply offer access to the largest property portals.

High street estate agents believe that the online model simply cannot compete in terms of service, with a thorough procedure running from marketing to completion justifying the additional cost of the traditional option. 

Opening hours are one area of customer service, however, where online estate agents outstrip their counterparts. Online agents are open for an average 86.9 hours per compared to 67.2 hours for high street agents.

Technology

A sticking point among some high street agents is the suggestion that they feel threatened by online agents or are failing to adapt to the changing technological needs of the market. A report by the marketing agency The Chat Shop showed that while traditional agents are adapting more quickly to the online marketplace than originally expected, online agents lead the way on all key metrics.

Questions to consider

The packages offered online vary significantly, but the hands-on process required to sell your home using an online agent won’t be suitable for everybody. Ask the following questions before diving in:

  • Am I prepared to conduct house viewings?
  • Do I trust the valuations given by online agents?
  • Am I prepared to negotiate a deal with a buyer?
  • Am I the best person to sell my home?

 

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