Jun 14, 2016

With a rise in online agents cropping up every week or so and having the opportunity to cut your fees to sell, would you opt for an online agent? There has been a long-standing argument over which type of agent is best suited to today’s market. Lets take a look at some of the pros and cons of using Online Estate Agents.

Well for one they are cheaper, but is that always a good thing? Online agents are able to charge less than the High Street agent because they effectively cut out the middleman – the estate agent. With the likes of Rightmove sculpturing the way in how we now buy and sell houses, many online agents would argue the fact that house buyers start the majority of their search online and not through shop windows (which is a fair point) and by using their services, you can quickly, cheaply and easily advertise your property online, but we must remember that this is the age of technology and Rightmove is only another form of marketing the property. By cutting out the Estate Agent, your limiting yourself from benefiting from a quality, reliable property valuation, which means your property could be undervalued or overvalued, scaring potential buyers away. Online Agents generally work from national call centres where they base their knowledge on limited internet stats, whereas a High Street agent can offer unrivaled local knowledge with knowledge of future developments and news (which can positively effect your property value). The traditional model of using High Street agents also guarantees that property viewings are accompanied with a skilled sales person and negotiator, to maximise the sales price, not to mention offer a more tailor made marketing package depending on your requirements.

Which agent should I choose? In an industry that is not heavily regulated and anyone can open up an estate agency business, when choosing the right online agent – doing your homework is key! In a recent report about online agents, it was brought to light that many of those working for the companies were not regulated by a redress scheme(s) and where therefore not abiding by the law. Many online estate agents will also boast about the amount of market share they have within the area, but another important point that has to come to light is the fact that online estate agents do not disclose how many properties they have sold in the past, although Online Agents are open 24/7 and have round the hour national call centres. Go with an agent that makes you feel comfortable, that has your best interest at heart and one that is competent – more importantly one you can rely on to get your property sold. The way we buy houses has not yet changed to a simple “Here is a house, do you want to buy it”. Its about  “What should we ask for this house? What marketing methods should be put in place? What’s the marketing strategy? Who is the target market” It’s about negotiating the deal and ensuring it gets through to a successful completion. Although online agents are far cheaper than traditional estate agents, with fees generally starting as low as £400 and High Street Agents charging an average of 1% of the sold price, it is a very DIY approach – sellers have to conduct their own viewings. Doing it yourself almost always translates into a more stressful and longer process and a lower price.

Why haven’t online agents taken off? Property is not like another other industry, it is not simply like going into a store or going online and buying a book, plus property has been the last market to embrace the Internet and people do not move homes that often. High Street Agents provide a much wider service and their marketing exposure is also wider. Although 98% of searches start online, the perfect buyer could see your property in the newspaper/walking past a window shop or better yet be contacted by a database of buyers ready – stored by the agent who has built up a relationship with them.

Final Thoughts

The main difference is this, if you would rather prefer to have the biggest assets of your life dealt with over the Internet for a reduced fee in the light of trusting names you cannot put faces to, then the online method is best for you. But if you would like to ensure that at any stage you can call your dedicated support personnel or pop down to their local office then the high street method is best opted for.

There is much speculation about whether the rise of the online agents will bring an end to the High Street Agent, one must remember that houses are the biggest assets we will ever own, so how they can fully migrate to be sold purely over the internet and through call centres does not come across well. Many factors change during the process, such as prices, specifications, areas and the need for local and professional knowledge, which cannot be handled by online agents. The rise in the number of online agents will in the long run be a good thing for High Street Agents. The Internet has revolutionised the property market and those that are not taking this into account will only fall behind. If we look at other industries, there is always room for online operators, like for example the retail industry, but where there are prices that cannot be beaten; there are also many downfalls.