Online vs High Street Estate Agent: Which Is Right For You?

26 August 2021

Online vs High Street Estate Agent: What You Need To Know

In the past decade, there has been a rapid increase in the popularity of online estate agents, with many vendors opting for the low cost option of selling their house online. But are online estate agents really as good as they sound, or should you stick with a traditional high street estate agent?

I want to help you to make the right choice when it comes to choosing the perfect estate agent to sell your home. So, in this article, I’ll explain the pros and cons of both online and high street estate agents, as well as exploring alternative options.

 

Online vs high street estate agent

Online Estate Agent vs High Street Estate Agent

If you’re thinking about selling your home, you might be wondering whether you should choose an online estate agent or a high street estate agent. It isn’t a straightforward choice and the answer won’t be the same for everyone.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both online and high street estate agents, exploring each option in more detail.

What Should You Know About Online Estate Agents?

An online estate agent is pretty much what it says on the tin: they don’t have an office that you can walk into, as all their business is conducted online. The only time you’re likely to meet your online estate agent is when they initially visit your property to complete a valuation and take photographs of the property.

When you choose an online estate agent, you’ll usually be required to pay an upfront fee. This covers the time the estate agents spend creating your property advert and uploading it onto sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla. You’ll then be charged extra for selected ‘premium services’ such as viewings hosted by an estate agent and a premium listing on Rightmove.

Popular online estate agents include Strike, Purplebricks and Yopa. Let’s take a look at the typical prices charged by these brands:

Strike Purplebricks Yopa
Upfront cost Free £999 £999
Hosted viewings £699 £300 £400
Premium marketing £499 £125
Total £1,198 £1,424 £1,399

 

As you can see, the fees appear attractive at first glance, especially the fee-free offering of Strike. However, once the extras are added on, the fees begin to creep up.

Why Are Online Estate Agents So Cheap?

Many people opt for online estate agents because of their low prices. And it’s true – many vendors will pay less with an online estate agent. So, how can an online estate agent afford to price their services so lowly?

Firstly, they operate without the overheads of a retail location. They don’t have stores in which they advertise or have staff based, so they can pass this saving onto customers. Sounds attractive, right? However, this also means that they don’t have that local knowledge that local estate agents are renowned for. This means that their valuation of your home is more likely to be based on online data, rather than knowledge of the local property market.

Online estate agents also offer a lower level of service than traditional estate agents. All of their marketing is done online, through their own website, Rightmove and Zoopla. In contrast, local estate agents will also use offline methods, such as contacting potential buyers and advertising in their store window and local newspapers.

Finally, online estate agents typically have less staff, who operate from a call centre. This means that you don’t get the personalised experience of having a dedicated point of contact – your point of contact is a call centre.

Whilst online estate agents are an attractive option thanks to their low prices, it’s also important to note that they have a lower completion rate, as well as typically securing lower prices for houses sold, when compared to high street estate agents.

Pros And Cons Of Online Estate Agents

So, now you know the facts about online estate agents. But what are the pros and cons of choosing to sell your property with an online estate agent? Of course, I can’t speak for every online estate agent here as each will be slightly different, but I can offer an overview based on my own professional experience, combined with the past experiences of my clients.

Advantages Of Online Estate Agents

  • Fixed fees, which are often lower than high street estate agents.
  • Online estate agent call centres often offer extended opening hours, outside of the usual 9-5 of a high street estate agent. This means you’ve got a wider opportunity to get in contact.
  • Higher level of control over your sale, including conducting your own viewings and negotiating a price directly with your buyers.

Disadvantages Of Online Estate Agents

  • Fees typically paid upfront, meaning that even if your property doesn’t sell, you’ve already paid the fee.
  • According to comparison website GetAgent, around 50% of properties listed by online estate agents don’t end up selling.
  • Properties sold with online estate agents will usually sell for less than those sold by traditional estate agents.
  • An online estate agent will usually market your property for a set period of time. If it doesn’t sell within this window, you may be charged an additional fee to continue marketing your property.
  • The upfront fee usually only includes listing your property for sale. You’ll typically then be charged extra for hosted viewings, professional photography or a premium Rightmove listing.
  • Communication is usually through email or telephone only – you can’t usually meet your online estate agent for a face to fact meeting.
  • Online estate agents usually rely on online data for valuations, as they don’t have the same knowledge of the local property market as a local estate agent. This means your house may be under or over valued.

What Should You Know About High Street Estate Agents?

As the name suggests, you’ll find high street estate agents, or traditional estate agents, in almost every town and city across the UK. These estate agents use a combination of both online and offline marketing techniques to sell properties. This includes contacting potential buyers and advertising your property in their store windows and local newspapers.

High street estate agents are experts in their local area. This is because they only cover a small “catchment” area, so they can educate buyers about the location, as well as offering a more accurate valuation for your property.

The fee for a high street estate agent is typically based on the sale price of your property. So, the more your property sells for, the higher the price you’ll pay to your estate agent. This percentage usually begins at 1% + VAT, with some estate agents charging up to 3% + VAT of your property’s sale price.

However, the services of a traditional estate agent are usually offered on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis, meaning that if a high street estate agent doesn’t sell your house, you won’t need to pay a penny.

Pros And Cons Of High Street Estate Agents

I’ve explained the basics of high street estate agents, but what are the pros and cons of opting to sell your property with a high street estate agent? Again, I can’t speak for every high street estate agent here, but I’ve put together the main advantages and disadvantages of choosing to sell with a high street estate agent, based on my own experiences.

Advantages Of High Street Estate Agents

  • No sale, no fee. This means that if your property doesn’t sell, you won’t have to pay a penny.
  • Properties are usually sold faster with high street estate agents than online estate agents.
  • High street estate agents are experts in their local area.
  • You can meet your estate agent in person at their local office.
  • Many high street estate agents will host viewings with your buyers, allowing you to take a hands-off approach to selling your property.
  • Commission fees give your estate agent an incentive to secure the best price possible for your property. After all, the more your property sells for, the higher their fee will be.

Disadvantages Of High Street Estate Agents

  • Fees are typically higher than with an online estate agent.
  • Fees are commission based, so you won’t know the final fee until you agree a sale on your property.
  • Contracts will typically have a fixed term length, meaning that you can’t switch to another estate agent until your contract ends.
  • Most estate agent offices are open 9-5, Monday to Friday. Some may be open on Saturday mornings, but it’s rare to find a high street estate agent that is open in an evening or on a Sunday.

But What About The Costs?

Ok, so I know online estate agents are cheaper – we’ve already discussed that. But we’ve also discussed how a traditional estate agent will typically be able to secure a higher price for your property than an online estate agent. Let me illustrate that point a bit clearer.

Online Estate Agent Traditional Estate Agent
Valuation price £200,000 £200,000
Sold price £195,000 £200,000
Estate agency fees £999 £2,400
What you really get for your property £194,001 £197,600

 

When you look at this example, you see that the difference in estate agency fees is £1,401. However, because the traditional estate agent was able to secure a higher sale price for the property, the vendor is actually £3,599 better off. So, next time you compare the fees of online and traditional estate agents, remember to take this into consideration.

Is There An Alternative?

There are pros and cons of choosing to sell your property with either an online estate agent or a high street estate agent. These must be carefully weighed up before you can make an informed decision on the right way forward for your house sale.

But is there an alternative to online or high street estate agents?

I’m going to let you into a secret. There is a way to sell your home, completely hassle free, which is different to online or high street estate agents.

Imagine if you could put your house on the market with an independent estate agent, who would manage your sale from start to end? One person to value your home, market your property, conduct the viewings, negotiate offers and manage the sale all the way through to completion. Someone to be with you every step of the journey.

That’s exactly what I offer. I’m not an online estate agent or a high street estate agent: I offer a bespoke and personalised service, taking the stress out of selling your house.

I hear stories of vendors having to ring round different numbers, struggling to get an update on the sale of their house. That’s not how I do business. From the day that you decide to list your home with me, I am with you every step of the way. I’m here whenever you need me, and I’ll work with you to find the perfect buyer for your house, for the right price.

Find out more about my independent estate agent service here

The Best Way To Sell Your Home

There’s no right or wrong way to sell your home. I believe that selling your home is a completely individual process, and you need to be completely comfortable with the option that you choose. The most important thing is to weigh up the pros and cons of each option and make the right choice for both your property and your family.

If you’re thinking of selling your property, I’m here to help. I can talk you through the different options and give you my professional opinion when it comes to selling your home. If you’d like a chat about the best way to sell your home, or to request a no-obligation valuation, get in touch below.

Get in touch

Get in touch

T: 07920 097 175

E: linda.stringer@exp.uk.com

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