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:
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.