It’s so much more than bricks and mortar

Should You Use an Online Estate Agent?

6 July 2017

Should You Use an Online Estate Agent?

Should I Use an Online Estate Agent?

There are plenty of high-profile advertising campaigns out there extolling the virtues of online estate agents but here’s what you need to know about selling your home this way:

Pros

1) If all goes well you will pay less for selling your home through an online agent.  They offer fixed fees and have packages to suit your needs depending if you want to do your own viewings or have viewings conducted by the agent.

2) The vast majority of people find properties online these days and online agents use Rightmove, Zoopla and other property portals so your home will be seen by potential buyers.

3) Online agents will provide you with a “For Sale” board if you would like one.

4) If you choose to conduct viewings yourself, then you may feel you have more control over the process of selling your home.

Cons

1)  Online agents operate from a nationwide call centre and may have limited knowledge of the market in your area therefore valuing your house is often done using online data which may be completely unrealistic or well below the market value of your home.  In our opinion there is no substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a reputable local agent who has an in-depth understanding of the market in your area and a proven track record in successfully selling your type of property.

2) Online estate agents do not have the same commission based incentive to get you (and them) the highest price possible.   Traditional agents will use their negotiating skills and experience to achieve the best price possible.  Online agents can offer a commission based package but then you need to assess what you are gaining from using one in terms of any financial benefit versus the level of experience offered.

3) Some online agents will take offers and negotiate on your behalf, others will leave it up to you.  Many vendors don’t feel comfortable haggling directly with buyers and prefer distancing themselves from the negotiations. 

4) In terms of our own experience of negotiating with online agents it has not been very positive.  It has quickly been evident that they don’t have the in-depth local knowledge or the kind of experience offered by their traditional established counterparts.

5) We have heard of “prospective buyers” gaining access to credit cards whilst they have been left alone to have a look around and committing identity theft and credit card fraud.  Our advice is never leave people viewing your home unaccompanied. 

With both types of agents, we believe it is really important to establish who will be your main point of contact and find out if they will be showing people around your home or if they outsource viewings. The agent who comes to value your home may well not be the individual you who is your main contact, so it important to meet those that will be closely involved in the sale.  Viewber is a growing service whereby agents outsource their viewings to a company which provides vetted local people (“Viewbers”) who show buyers around your property having looked at the online details and any notes the agent will have passed on.  They most likely won’t have a property background but they will know the local area.   It is a personal decision whether you would be happy with this set up but you should at least know whether the agent you appoint uses these kinds of services.

Which ever you decide, personality plays a huge part…our advice is only instruct somebody you like and trust. You want someone who will fight your corner and get you the best possible deal, not only in terms of price but the whole package which includes terms that are favourable to you, for example on timings of the move.  

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