Estate agents under pressure from online agents

Posted 6 September 2016 by Ben Salisbury

Traditional estate agents are seen as offering 'poor value for money' and need to get across the work they do to sell a property, according to new research

New research highlights what the public think of estate agents and reveals the growing popularity of online agents.

Almost a third of homeowners think estate agents provide ‘poor value for money’ and 85% would consider using an online agent to sell their home.

With the fee described as the most important deciding factor in choosing an agent by 56% of respondents, the rise of cheaper alternatives to traditional estate agents is an area that agents will have to address if they are not already doing so. 96% of people said they would compare the fees of an online agent with a traditional agent if they could to help decide who to use to sell their home.

However, despite cost being so crucial, it is evident that homeowners expect a lot for the money. A quarter expect to pay a fee of between 0.5% and 1% to cover all services provided by an estate agent. The national average is 1.1% which illustrates that there is a need for estate agents and the industry to better educate consumers about what a fee covers and what work goes into selling a property.

As part of the fee 52% of consumers expect photography and 49% expect to see their property listed on the main property portals. 10% even expect an open day for their property, 6% expect video marketing services and a further 10% expect virtual tours to be included as standard.

38% of consumers expect estate agents to provide support and guidance from valuation to completion as part of their service, even for a low fee.

Research by Netanagent.com an estate agent comparison site reveals a sizeable gap between UK homeowners and estate agents about what is involved in selling a property and reveal that there needs to be more transparency around the sales process in a market that is changing rapidly through the rise of online estate agents and property portals.

The study suggests homebuyers underestimate the work involved in selling a home and that estate agents have a hard task to change perceptions about their value.

netanagent.com managing director, Alex Thorpe, comments: “What’s clear from our research is that homeowners don’t necessarily understand the sheer amount of work that goes into selling a property. There is a real need for estate agents to better promote the value they can bring consumers so sellers can truly understand the best estate agent for their needs.”

Just 18% of homeowners see estate agents as ‘helpful’ and only 20% describe them as ‘knowledgeable’, whilst 35% describe estate agents as pushy, with 30% viewing them as ‘poor value for money’.

Leaving a good impression on a homeowner is important because behind fees, personal recommendations are the second most important factor in selecting an agent, with local knowledge and responsiveness also seen as important.

The research also shows that more and more homeowners are prepared to consider using online agents to sell their property, with 85% saying they would consider this option. This illustrates how the market and property selling environment is changing and how online agents now present a viable alternative to traditional high street estate agents.

Despite this growing trend, many still appreciate the services offered by traditional agents with many homeowners preferring to ‘speak to people face to face’ and for ‘local people to sell my house in the local area’.

“With more savvy consumers who are willing to shop around and the rise of online and hybrid estate agents enabling sellers to do more themselves, the pressure is really on to show people that they are getting value for money,” said Thorpe. 

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