Online vs High Street Estate Agents

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online estate agent in office

When selling your house, the traditional route has always been to use high-street estate agents. But, with the rise of the internet and so many estate agent house sales falling through (one in three), there has been a dramatic increase in online and hybrid estate agents. We won’t lie, there is a certain level of controversy around using online estate agents, but we’ll delve into that later in the article.

Online estate agents tend to be run via a website, office or call centre, occasionally sending out regional representatives to look at houses and use third parties to collect marketing materials. High street estate agents, however, tend to run everything out of a physical place but may advertise on Rightmove and Zoopla too.

This article will discuss the main differences between online and high-street estate agents, which may be better for you, and the costs of using their services. If you’re looking for something specific, please use our interactive menu:

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Online vs High Street Estate Agents Fees

The critical difference between online and high-street estate agents is their fees. Online estate agents may offer you their services at a fixed price, which will vary significantly depending on the company. Some will cover all services for a fixed fee, others will offer different packages to include ‘additional services’ like Strike, and some online estate agents, like The Property Selling Company, will pay for your fees.

On the other hand, high street estate agents will ask for a certain percentage (usually 1-4%+VAT) of the final sale price. Again, however, the coverage of services will differ depending on the firm you choose.

On the face of it, most online estate agents seem significantly cheaper than high-street estate agents, and you’d be correct! If you sell your house with a traditional estate agent, you are much more likely to spend three times the amount you would have paid with an online estate agent.

But, you should take the price advantage of some online estate agents with a grain of salt because you need to look at the fine details to avoid being hit with hidden fees and costs later down the road. For most online estate agents, you will have to pay even if you don’t end up selling your home with them — which can be a costly and annoying ordeal.

Most online estate agents that offer packages will allow you to take up a cheaper starter package, but this won’t cover things needed to sell a house, like; photographs, viewings, open days, sale boards, and marketing.

Online vs High Street Estate Agent Services

When you receive valuations from high street estate agents, they may overvalue your home to win your business. This is a common practice in the industry to compete with the cheap fees associated with online estate agents. Before you choose an estate agent service, you request three different valuations and then create an average, as this will allow you to have the best possible guess at your house value.

Whilst high street estate agents will accompany house viewings, undertake checks, organise valuations and handle negotiations on your behalf; some online estate agents will expect you to cover these parts of the house sale yourself. Although, this is only sometimes the case, as some companies will also cover this in their service.

Most high street estate agents will assign you a personal account manager who will act as your point of call throughout the house-selling process. On the other hand, most online estate agents will use call centres and consultants, but every time you ring up, you may meet a new representative on the phone. The personal connection is minimised, and if you are involved in a complex house sale, it may take longer to complete the house as only some of the team will be up to speed on your situation.

Online vs High Street Estate Agent Local Knowledge

There is a perception in the residential property industry that online estate agents lack local knowledge. In some cases, this can be true compared to a high street estate agent, but it all depends on property experience. Some online estate agents may have regional representatives with years of prior knowledge of a local area as they worked as an estate agent.

But, on the whole, most high street estate agents will be able to give you better current local knowledge, especially on local market trends. They may also have a bank of potential buyers and sellers already on their mailing list, which can speed up your sale.

Another positive to high street estate agents having local knowledge is that they may be familiar with your local solicitor, which may improve the communication and speed of conveyancing and completion.

Online vs High Street Estate Agent Best Performance

High street estate agents will likely be able to squeeze out a little more money from the prospective buyer due to their years of training, local knowledge and hands-on role. An online estate agent may be less inclined to get the best price possible for you because they are making no percentage on the sale of your actual house due to their fixed fee.

However, online estate agents can sell your home significantly faster than a high street estate agent, with the shortest claiming to sell your house in seven days. But high street estate agents will be able to squeeze slightly more money out of the buyer and generate almost double the number of offers that you receive.

Some online and high street estate agents will also let you negotiate onward purchases, but you should ensure this service is provided before you choose their company.

Which Is Better: Online or High Street Estate Agent?

Which is better will ultimately depend on you and your situation, how flexible you are on timings, how hands-on you want to be, how much money you wish to spend and what kind of property you have.

If you sell your house via an online estate agent, you will save money by not having to pay a percentage of your final selling price, but you will need to pay solicitor fees — unless you choose a company like The Property Selling Company or Yopa. With a high street estate agent, you may earn slightly more on offers due to their negotiation skills but lose out when you have to pay the percentage of the purchase price.

The best online estate agents in the UK will tailor the timelines to you and be members of The Property Ombudsman or the National Association of Potential Buyers, which means they follow strict guidelines to ensure you are treated fairly throughout the process. You should check online estate agents’ Google and Trustpilot reviews and look at what previous customers have said about their service — this should ensure you don’t use an online estate agency that doesn’t put its customers first.

If you would like any tailored advice, please contact us – as we are more than happy to help!

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Tom is a Digital Content Writer passionate about sustainable property & property trends. Regardless of the subject, he will always write blogs of the best calibre. Read more about Tom here.

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About Tom Condon 126 Articles
Tom is a Digital Content Writer passionate about sustainable property & property trends. Regardless of the subject, he will always write blogs of the best calibre. Read more about Tom here.

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