Online estate agents have risen in popularity in the past 5 years, with the likes of Purplebricks, eMoov, HouseSimple and others selling thousands of properties across the UK.
The attraction for using an online agent is that sellers can save thousands of pounds and avoid traditional High Street estate agent’s commission. This low-cost online alternative is especially worthwhile for homeowners with high-end luxury homes because the higher the value of a property, the higher the amount you would pay to a traditional estate agent in commission fees. In comparison, online estate agents charge a fixed price, flat fee to sell your home – regardless of how much the property is valued.
More and more people are considering ditching their local High Street agent in favour of a cheaper online alternative – but how do you know if an online agency will actually live up to the hype? We take an in-depth look at the pros and cons of online estate agents to help you make an informed decision and answer the burning question – are they actually any good?!
How Successful are Online Estate Agents?
Online estate agents rely on the power of Rightmove and Zoopla to generate interest in their clients’ properties. Recent research has found that 90% of people start their property search online, so advertising your house online is essential to promote it to the largest possible audience of buyers.
Local high street estate agents may only be able to target buyers in the local area through their own database of clients, but by advertising your property online, you remove the limits of localised advertising and can reach potential buyers right across the UK, and even across the world!
Some traditional estate agents will claim that because online agents do not get paid according to a percentage of the sale price, that they do not have an incentive to achieve the best possible price for your property. Because high street estate agents will earn more money for themselves if they can sell your property for a higher price, they have a good reason to try and achieve the highest price from buyers. However, the evidence suggests that online agents are actually pretty good at securing a good sale price, with the best online agents claiming to achieve 96-99% of asking price.
To get a real sense of how successful online estate agents can be, it’s best to weigh up the pros and cons, then decide if an online agent will be the best choice for you an your property. Below we’ve listed the benefits and disadvantages of this new breed of estate agent in detail – to help you make an informed decision about how to sell your home online.
Online Estate Agent Pros:
Save money on commission fees
Online agents offer a low cost, fixed-fee service where you will pay anywhere from £300-£1500 to sell your property. This can save you thousands of pounds compared to selling with your local high street estate agent.
Advertise to millions of buyers
Online agents will advertise your property on the main property portals, including Rightmove and Zoopla, which attract millions of people looking to buy property in the UK. It is hugely important that you promote your home to the biggest possible audience to help you find a buyer quickly, so listing on these popular websites is an essential part of the process.
Choose how much help you need
Unlike their high street counterparts, online agents usually offer a range of packages and optional services for you to choose from. This means that you can choose how much help you want and you won’t end up paying for part of the service that you don’t actually need!
Expert advice and useful information
Whether you choose to sell with an online-only agent or a hybrid estate agent, you will still be able to find useful information and support to help you through the sale of your property. Most online agents will have a range of useful articles, blog posts and free downloadable guides on topics ranging from writing the perfect property description, to negotiating the best offer with buyers. Some online agents will even offer sales progression from experienced professionals to help take the stress and hassle off your plate.
Get support when you need it
Because online agents do not have a physical office with traditional 9-5 opening hours, they can be much more flexible with how and when you can contact them. Most people are busy during normal office hours, which can make it difficult to organise things with a traditional estate agent who is only available during the hours you are most busy! Online agents, on the other hand, can be open 24/7 and will usually have a call centre with support staff ready and waiting to answer your questions whenever you call.
Online Estate Agent Cons
Little or No Face-to-Face Support
Because most online agents operate purely online and do not have a physical High Street office, it is highly likely that you will not have any face-to-face contact with them throughout the sale of your property. However, “Hybrid” estate agents (who will usually charge a slightly higher fee) have a network of independent local property managers who will conduct professional valuations, take photographs, create floorplans and occasionally conduct viewings. So if you are keen to communicate with your agent in-person, a hybrid agent offers a good middle ground between the comprehensive support of a traditional High Street agent and the online-only approach.
You still pay even if they don’t sell your property
Because online estate agents charge an upfront fee to sell your property, you will still have to pay them, even if they don’t successfully sell your property. This is a concern for many cash-conscious sellers as you can end up handing over £1000 for a service that doesn’t actually work. Traditional estate agents operate a “no-sale-no-fee” model, because they only get paid their commission if they successfully sell the property – so although you will end up paying more to a high street agent, you can guarantee you won’t pay a penny if you don’t sell your home.
More Time and Effort for you
If you use an online agent to sell your home you will need to do more of the work yourself. Depending on which online estate agency service you choose, you may have to create your own property advert, manage and respond to enquiries from buyers, arrange and conduct your own viewings and negotiate with interested buyers to secure an offer. If you don’t have much free time on your hands or have no desire to spend your time dealing with the sale, you may want to consider using a traditional High Street estate agent instead.
You may not achieve the best price
Some people argue that because online estate agents take an up-front fixed fee from their clients, they have no incentive to secure the highest possible price for your property. High street estate agents take a percentage of the sale price of your property for their fee – which means that they receive more money if they secure a high price. Online agents, on the other hand, will receive the same fee regardless of how much they sell your home for.
NOTE: Despite this, most online agents claim that they can secure upwards of 96% of asking price.
So there you have it! Our comprehensive overview of the pros and cons of online estate agents. If you want to sell your home privately but need to reach the biggest possible audience of buyers then an online agent is a great way to advertise your home on Rightmove and Zoopla without paying thousands in commission to a traditional High Street estate agent.
Check out our online agent upgrade service to advertise on Rightmove and Zoopla and choose from a variety of payment plans including up-front and no-sale-no-see from some of the best online estate agents in the UK!
Find out more about online estate agents and how you can sell your home online in our guide articles below: