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How to Choose a Good Online Estate Agent

Housing-Market / UK Housing May 27, 2019 - 06:41 AM GMT

By: Sumeet_Manhas

Housing-Market

Traditional high street estate agents still control around 95% of the market, but in recent years a newer type of intermediary, the online estate agent, has gained a significant foothold in the sector. Using an ever-expanding range of technological options, a reliable online agency can now offer a similar level of service to their high street equivalents. And because an online operator has substantially lower overheads, homeowners are usually charged a fixed fee which may be just a fraction of the price charged by a bricks-and-mortar estate agent.


However, it’s important to bear in mind that choosing a good online estate agent is always about more than just the cost involved. There are a number of other important aspects to bear in mind.

Reputation

Just as you would gather information about the level of service offered by a local estate agent, you should aim to do the same for an online agency. An agent’s website will quote statistics such as the ‘average percentage of the property asking price achieved’, and may say how long an average property will take to sell. Nevertheless, it is important to cross-reference such data, both by ensuring you understand how the quoted figure was calculated and also looking for some other form of supporting evidence. This could, for instance, be the quality and volume of customer reviews, especially any recurring themes (both positive and negative) which seem to be mentioned. Most online estate agents seem to be using Trustpilot or AllAgents as their main source of reviews.

What services are offered?

You will almost certainly pay a fixed fee, usually between £500 and £1,200, but this will invariably cover different levels of service. While some sites may just list your house for sale, other agents may introduce you to a recommended valuer, or appoint a dedicated local agent to handle property viewings. And when it comes to negotiating a sale, some online estate agents will represent your interests rather like a local high street agent would be expected to do.

Most sellers understand the need to be aware of micro-trends within a local area, and how they can influence house sales. So it is important to gauge just how much ‘local’ expertise you will actually get for your fixed-rate fee.

How will the property be marketed?

You should, of course, ensure that your property will be listed on the big two property portals; Zoopla and Rightmove. But are any other websites used? And does the online agency have a waiting list of potential buyers to whom your property details will be sent automatically?

If digital marketing is to be successful, that success will most likely depend on the calibre, frequency and range of the online presentation. So carefully check the quality of the photo images and floorplans an agent produces. In addition, make sure you understand the geographical reach of any online advertising, and that you are clear about the agent’s procedures for handling the subsequent enquiries from prospective purchasers.

Payment

Your would-be online representative will quote a fixed fee for selling your home. But there may well be different prices, or add-ons, for different levels of service. In addition, some agencies may ask for a fee up front, while others may only charge a fee once your property is sold.

Do bear in mind that, whereas many high street estate agents will not charge a fee unless your house is eventually sold, most online agencies will charge a fee regardless of the outcome. A further issue here is that once you have paid out a fee in advance and your property has been listed, some online agencies may no longer have any great incentive to push hard for a sale on your behalf. Luckily this situation has started to change over the last 12 months, with the larger online estate agents such as Yopa now offering ‘no sale, no fee’ options.

Though selling a house online may not suit all homeowners, there are considerable savings which can be made. However, as with the purchase of any other online service, the key is to do your research thoroughly. So do make sure you understand exactly what you are paying for and know precisely what you can expect in return.  

By Sumeet Manhas

This is a paid advertorial.

© 2019 Copyright Sumeet Manhas - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


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