Local Estate Agent or Online Estate Agent
How do you decide? Is there a difference?
We have put together a few pro’s and cons.
Check the key factors to consider if you’re thinking about using an online agent to sell your home.
Online estate agents are increasingly popular. Lower overheads allow online agents to offer cost-conscious vendors potential savings when it comes to selling their homes, making them an attractive option for many sellers.
For the most part, the services offered by online agents will be similar to those of traditional local estate agents. However, Angela Kerr, director at HomeOwners Alliance, recommends consumers do their homework. “Online agents are not all the same and their packages can be very different.”
So, what are the main advantages and disadvantages of using an online estate agent?
The pros of using an online agent
Online agents offer similar services to traditional local estate agents; they will value your home, produce floor plans, take professional photos and promote it on property listings websites. They can also arrange viewings, negotiate offers on your behalf and liaise with your solicitor, depending on the packages you choose.
The key difference is that, with no expensive branches to maintain or local staff to employ, online estate agents can potentially undercut high-street agents by charging lower fees.
Control over the process
If you’re willing to manage the house sale yourself, using an online estate agent can give you the feeling of greater control over the sales process. On cheaper packages, you may need to carry out viewings yourself.
Furthermore, unlike the high street, the internet is always open. Whether you’re uploading your own photographs or managing potential viewing times, you’ll have round-the-clock access using an online estate agent – and so will potential buyers.
Potential for greater exposure
You may have the freedom to appoint multiple agents without them charging you a higher fee, as is usually the case with high-street agents. However, you should always ask to see the contract, if there is one, so you can check the terms and find out whether there’s a tie-in period.
The potential cons of using an online agent
Some online agents require full payment upfront, which is non-refundable, even if your property doesn’t sell. Some will allow you to pay when your property sells, while others offer ‘No sale, no fee’ packages, although these may be more expensive than upfront packages. It pays to do your homework, so you don’t get caught out.
Lack of local knowledge
While more established online estate agents can offer a 24/7 service, you may find yourself dealing with call-centre staff who have little or no insight into the area where you live. This could affect the valuation of your property and the effectiveness of any online advertising.
David Blake, Principal Mortgage Adviser at Which? Mortgage Advisers, recommends a cautious approach: “Online agents may struggle to compete with a high-street agent who knows your neighbourhood and its property market inside out.”
However, some online agents do offer support from experienced local property agents in some of their packages, so – if local expertise is important to you – check carefully before making your selection.
Lower percentage of sales
Despite the increasing popularity of online estate agents, more than 90% of sellers still choose traditional high-street agents to sell their home4. However, many sellers risk getting a bad deal because they don’t do their research, according to the HomeOwners Alliance5.
Don’t take anything for granted: it may be possible to save money selling your home online, but it’s important to understand exactly what services you’re getting from the start, and to read the small print so you avoid any nasty surprises.
Remember that the market is evolving all the time. For example, hybrid estate agents bridge the gap between online and traditional agents, aiming to provide sellers with the best of both worlds. They can offer a full estate agent service, including face-to-face contact and access to local experts. Kings Property Consultancy operates a hybrid service their office in Streatham covering the surrounding area.
Whichever route you take, make sure the agency you choose is registered with The Property Ombudsman, or a similar governing body.
Traditional Local Estate Agencies
While traditional, local estate agents might not have the same immediate conveniences as online agents, there are still things to consider that might make them a better fit for you.
One of the most obvious places where traditional local agents might be a better fit is that they are likely to have a wealth of local knowledge that you can benefit from when it comes to the valuation of your home. While online agents may have a large database to pull from, that may not be fully reflective of the reality of home values in your area.
The other positive of using a traditional estate agent is that you have far fewer things to directly worry about. They will often take on a lot of the duties themselves without you having to worry about things like managing and marketing the sale of your home.
Obviously, with the extra features that are often offered by traditional local estate agents, that comes with a higher price point. While you won’t have to pay upfront, the costs of commission for traditional local estate agents are often far more significant than those for online agents.
The extra work that a traditional local estate agent will put it can be positive but it also means that you will have a lot less control over the entire process which is something that might not be suitable for many people who are willing and able to take on some of the work that is involved in selling their home.
The reality of whether you choose an online estate agent or a traditional local estate agency will very likely come down to your personal circumstances and which compromises you’re willing to make while selling your home. After all, selling your home is one of the most stressful and difficult things that you can do, so it makes a lot of sense to try and make sure to make the process as easy as possible.
Somewhere in the middle with a hybrid estate agency which can offer you the best of both worlds. Kings Property Consultancy operate from a serviced office in Streatham and cover the surrounding area’s , Croydon, Mitcham, Thornton Heath, Crystal Palace , Upper Norwood and South Norwood. Contact one of the team for a friendly no obligation chat.