Online estate agents market themselves as the most affordable alternative to the high-street agents. Indeed, these estate agents can charge lower fees compared to the high street agents even though they only account for 5% of property sales. But how do online estate agents they work?
To begin with, online estate agents offer the same services as the high street estate agents. However, the difference is that they mostly value and market your property. They may also arrange for viewings, negotiate offers and liaise with the conveyancer even though this varies from one estate agent to the other.
Some of the significant differences between online estate agents and high street agents include the following:
- Viewings – While high street agents will fully take up the role of conducting viewings by prospective buyers, the default option for estate agents is that you conduct viewings by yourself.
- Fees – Online estate agents tend to charge less fees than the high-street agents. Even then, you may have to pay them upfront regardless of whether the company will sell your property. Unlike the high street agents whose fees is a percentage of the selling price, estate agents charge a fixed rate. The disadvantage of this is that the agency does not have an incentive to negotiate for the best price possible for your property.
- Communication – In most cases, communication with the estate agent will be through phone or email. However, there are those online agents who many opt to visit the property to take photos as well as create floor plans. You may be assigned a personal account manager even though chances are you will not meet them in person.
- Marketing – Just like the high street estate agents, the online agents will market your property until it sells of the contract ends. This is usually dependent on the package you have chosen. While the majority offer 12 months as standard, some offer six months only. Having said that they may not go into as much detail, such a explaining your high end kitchen worktops or new bathroom.
- Valuations – The majority of online estate agents will visit your property to value it just as high street agents would do but you may not get an agent who understands the property market in your area. Although some online agents opt to using local experts for valuation you need to know that you do not have to use the valuation that is done by the online agent. Instead, you can as a high street agent for a free valuation and use it to determine the asking price.
- Vetting buyers – A good high street agent will know if the potential buyer is a quality applicant. Online estate agents too, take the details of the prospective buyers mainly their names, finances as well as establish if the buyer is already part of a chain. Thus, you will do well to ask your agent how it works.
- Speed of sale – According to the leading ‘Sell House Fast’ agency Ready Steady Sell High street agents are statistically quicker at selling property than online agencies. The main reason is they know the area better, they can put a better valuation down, and they likely have lists of buyers looking for property in particular areas. Having said that the average sale time for any agent is around 6 months, so be prepared to wait!
Overall, online estate agents are not different from the high-street estate agents in terms of the services they offer. The difference is in the manner in which these services are offered by the two.